Festivals of Gujarat
Dangs Darbar is the name of the annual fair held every year in Ahwa,
the most important town in the Dangs a few days before Holi. The
Dangs is one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat and is
located high in the Saputara hills, the original home of the
adivasis, the tribal population of Gujarat. The name 'Darbar' dates
back to the time of the British, when a darbar of Rajas and Naiks of
neighbouring area used to assemble there. Today it is called
Jamabandi Darbar and the District Collector officiates at it.
Thousands of tribal people flock to Ahwa from all over the district,
dressed in bright colours sounding the Shehnai and beating their
drums. Folk dances, dramas and songs enliven the air during the
The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in the city of Junagadh is the site of the Bhavnath Mahadev fair held for five days in February, during the festival of Mahashivratri. The Mahapuja of Lord Shiva takes place at midnight in this temple on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Magh. When the puja (prayer ceremony) starts, Naga Bavas (naked sages) living nearby, move towards the fair seated on elephants, holding flags and blowing conch shells. It is believed that Lord Shiva himself visits the shrine on this occasion. Visitors are served free meals by the organizers. Special stalls sell idols, rosaries or holy beads brought by vendors from Ayodhya and Mathura, utensils of brass and copper, sweets and fruits.
Around 40 kms from Bhuj, it is known for the samadhi of the famous
saint Menkan Dada who served the community with great love and
dedication and won their devotion. He was an
incarnation of Lakshmanji. A large fair is held on Magh Vad when a
large number of Dada's followers from different parts of Gujarat and
Rajasthan come to the Samadhi and participate in religious rituals.
This magnificent fair is held every year at Vautha, where two
rivers, the Sabarmati and the Vatrak meet. Like most fair sites in
India, this also has both mythological and current religious
associations. The Vautha Mela site is 3 square miles in area.
Legends hold that Kartik Swami or Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva,
visited the site. This is why the fair is held during Kartika
Purnima, the full moon night of the month of Kartik, corresponding
to November. The site, also known as Saptasangam, is at the
confluence of seven rivers. The most important Shiva temple here is
the temple of Siddhanath. Also, major Donkey trading fair is held.
The Shamlaji Melo, also called the Kartik Purnima fair is held in
the month of November every year and lasts for about two weeks. It
is attended by almost two hundred thousand people from adjoining
districts and even from Rajasthan. The pilgrims come in groups,
singing devotional songs and carry religious banners to have a
darshan (worship)of the deity at the Shamlaji Temple. The Shamlaji
Temple is a renowned Vaishnav Shrine and the deity housed here is
known by various names included Gadadhar (bearer of the mace) and
Shaksi Gopal. The fair is also popular with the tribal people of the
area, particularly the Bhils, who revere Shamlaji, the deity they
refer to as 'Kalio Bavji', the dark divinity. The temple is of great
archaeological significance as it was built in the 11th century.
Apart from a darshan of the deity in the temple, the pilgrims
consider a bath in the river Meshwo essential.
It is celebrated with lots of folk music and dance as well as kite flying. The atmosphere at the festival is electrifying-glass strenghtened threads of the Indian fighter kites are matched against each other in the air, and the kite fighter who cuts the other thread is the victor. Typical food like Undiya, sugar cane juice and local sweets are served to celebrate the day.
Dance Festival - Modhera
Resting on a knoll in the village of Modhera, the ruins of the 11th century Sun Temple are an impressive sight. The outer walls of the temple are covered with sculptures in which the figures of Lord Surya, the sun god are prominent. The Sun Temple is the site of an annual festival of Indian classical dances organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat. The idea is to present classical dance forms in an atmosphere they were originally presented in.
The Kutch Mahotsav
Mahuram is the date when Muslims commemorate the death of Prophet’s
grandson, Hussain. The highlight of this Muslim festival is the
Tazia procession, which includes acrobats, drummers and singers.
Miniature replicas of the martyr’s tomb are carried during the Tazia
procession. The Tazia is made of bamboo and tinsel, and are double
storied dome structures. There is competition among participants to
offer the best Tazia, acrobatics, music and gymnastics. Tazia is a
Persian term for weeping, and devout followers beat their chests to
express grief. Shia Muslims fast for 10 days during the
The mammoth procession of Rath Yatra at
Ahmedabad is the biggest in Gujarat. It starts from the Jagdish
Mandir situated in the Jamalpur area of the city early in the
morning. There are three separate chariots for the idols of Krishna,
Balram and their sister Subhadra. The chariots resemble those at
Jagannath Puri and are adorned with garlands. Music bands and Bhajan
Mandlis lead the procession. Decorated elephants also move with the
procession and gymnasts and acrobats perform astonishing feats.
Numerous sadhus of all Vaishnavite sects and devotees join in this
procession headed by the Mahant of Jagannath Temple.
The full moon of Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festival days of the year, when farmers and agriculturists come to Ambaji, a place that derives its name from Goddess Ambaji whose shrine is located here. On this occasion, a large fair is organized on full moon days. In the evening, performances of Bhavai, the folk drama of the state is held and Garba programmes are organized. The devout attend readings of the Saptashati, the seven hundred verses in praise of the goddess and visit the temple for a darshan (worship) of her. The Ambaji shrine is the principal shrine of the goddess in Gujarat and its origins are still unknown. The Temple of Ambaji is recognized as one of the original Shakti Pithas (religious texts) where, according to the ancient Scriptures, the heart of the goddess Ambaji fell to earth when her body was dismembered. A triangular Vishwa Yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable 'Shree' in the centre, represents the deity.
Navratri, meaning nine nights is a colourful and ancient festival honouring the Mother Goddess- the Divine Shakti who supports the entire universe, protects worshippers, destroys evil and grants boons to her children. The mother goddess has seven well-known forms, including Kali one of her fiercest manifestations. Navratri is held annually in September-October and is celebrated with joy and religious fervour. An interesting feature of Navratri is the Garba and the Dandia-Ras dances. The costumes worn for the dances are traditional and extremely colourful. These dances start very late at night and end in the early hours of the morning.
Dussehra, a ten-day festival in September-October is symbolic of the
triumph of good over evil.
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