Rajasthan is a northwestern state in India that is known for its verdant mountains, ancient temples, wild tigers roaming about inside the Ranthambhor National Park and the mighty Thar Desert. The state’s second most important city is Jodhpur, next only to Jaipur, the state capital. The culture and festivals in Jodhpur are enough to keep locals engaged and tourists from all over the world interested and eager to visit.
There is a lot going on in the historic city of Jodhpur. Locals and visitors talk about several religious events and festivities that make the city burst in music, color and merrymaking. The five most anticipated festivals are the Jodhpur International Desert Kite Festival, Nagaur Fair, Nag Panchami, Nav Sati, and Marwar Festival.
First, what do you do with so much open space and wind around you? Fly a kite. This is what hundreds of people do from all over India and other countries on January 14 every year during the Jodhpur International Desert Kite Festival, also referred to as Makar Sankranti.
This three-day event is a new thing in Jodhpur and it has caught on very quickly. Kite flyers and enthusiasts from the United States, Belgium, England and Hong Kong have participated in the past. It is just so beautiful to see the desert sky come alive with so many colorful and beautifully designed kites.
Second is Nagaur Fair or Cattle Fair, the second largest cattle trading fair in India and which takes place all over the state of Rajasthan in the month of January and February. There’s nothing religious or patriotic about this event but the display of so many animals dressed with garlands and accessories is quite a sight. About 70,000 cows, bullocks, oxen, camels, and horses are traded or sold, along with food, animal accessories and handicrafts.
Meanwhile, a different kind of animal, a much fiercer kind, takes the spotlight during the Nag Panchami, snakes. This festival of snakes that takes place in August and September is popular among tourists and local devotees. Shiva temples are ornately decorated as devotees arrive to offer food and clothing to the serpent king cobra.
The fourth festival, Nav Sati, is a fair dedicated primarily for women. Taking place in March or April, Jodhpur folks-women bathe early in the Banganga River, wear brightly colored clothes, pray to Gauri (the goddess of devotion and love), sing, dance, and exchange sweets. They do these ceremoniously in honor of the goddess and in memory of nine women who performed here an ancient custom of sacrificing oneself for the sake of their husbands.
Finally, the most anticipated event is the Marwar Festival; this is when the party really begins. It is a two-day celebration of fun, dancing, music, shows, and feasting in honor of Jodhpur’s past heroes and rulers. The festival is talked about not only in the state of Rajasthan but also all over the country.
Formerly called Maand Festival, Marwar takes place in the month of Ashwin during the Sharad Poornima full moon, which is sometime between September and October. Locals and visitors gather to watch folk dancers and singers perform traditional shows and lively entertainment about the city’s history, past wars and fallen heroes. This is total immersion for any visiting foreigner who wants to know more about the Rajasthani culture.
What’s so amazing about Marwar is that it is held in spectacular city venues. These places include the Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace and Mandore. These are the leading tourist destinations in Jodhpur and to use them as venues to highlight the culture and festivals in Jodhpur is a very strategic.