1) Pushkar Fair
It is believed that Lord Brahma made Pushkar the ‘guru’ of all tirthas. This dominating presence so disturbed the gods that they pleaded to Brahma for a correction in this situation. Brahma agreed to send the Pushkar tirtha into the astral sphere and let it to be present on Earth only for five days. These were to be the last five days of the month of Kartik, from Ekadashi to Purnima. These are the days when the fair is celebrated. Pushkar Mela is a conglomeration of several fairs. One is a religious fair, which spans the days mentioned before. The cattle fair, which has acquired international fame, starts taking shape a week before Ekadashi. From then on, the cattle fair wanes as the moon waxes; the rising full moon on Purnima evening, with the sun setting on the other side of the sand dunes, signals the closure of the cattle fair. In the interstices exists a rural trade and entertainment fair. It is a week long, sometimes charming, often garish extravaganza, finishing on the night of the full moon.
2) Elephant Festival
In Jaipur, the Elephant Festival held on the occasion of Holi attracts a lot of visitors who delight in watching the huge animals dressed in finery being led in a procession. There are elephant races and polo games (both favourites of Rajasthani royals at one time) as well. There is something very mesmerizing and amusing about the sight of enormous pachyderms, their bodies painted with floral decorations, swaying to the direction of tiny mahouts. This festival is unique to the state of Rajasthan. Nowhere else will you see such a celebration of elephants.
3) Jaipur Literature Fest
The annual festival which began on a modest scale in 2006 brings together writers and literature lovers from around the world to Jaipur each year for few days of exciting events, readings, book launches and discussions. In 2012, the festival witnessed an estimated 120,000 visitors from peple across all age groups and backgrounds. Panel discussions and readings simultaneously run throughout the venue making it a favourite with anyone who enjoys great writing and discussion. Acclaimed writers have described it as the ‘greatest literary show on earth’. This interesting festival is sure to inspire you whether you are a writer or a reader.
4) Bikaner Camel Festival
Bikaner is as famous for its tryst with royalty as it is for its savouries as well its festival. The locals begin each year on a lively note with the Camel Festival in Bikaner held in January, organized by the Tourism Department. There are parades, races and dances by camels during the festival, which is spread over two days. Folk art performances, including the fire dances, are also organized during this time.
5) Jaisalmer Desert Festival
The Desert Festival at Jaisalmer is held in January- February and culminates on Magh Purnima (full moon days). Meant to showcase Rajasthan’s rich cultural heritage, this festival features folk dances and folk music performances, held on the gorgeous sand dunes of Sam, near Jaisalmer. Camel races are also part of this festival. The entire city is decorated to receive visitors from all over the country. The golden fort here is illuminated and is a sight to behold.
The full moon in the month of Kartik (October- November) has special religious significance and dozens of small religious fairs take place in village sell over the state during this time. One such is the Kapil Muni Fair at Kolayat near Bikaner, so called after the sage Kapil Muni, who is believed to have descended from Lord Brahma. He is aid to have prayed at the lake here and while pilgrims visit Kolayat through the year, a dip during the full moon is considered to be especially sacred. It is thought that one day spent in Kolayat is equivalent to 10 years spent in any other religious places. A beautifully located temple dedicated to Kapil Muni and 52 shaded ghats add to the sanctity of the atmosphere. A cattle fair is also held at this time when prizes are given for the best breeders of camels, horses and cattles.
7) Marwar Festival
The Marwar Festivak is held annually in Jodhpur in September-October in memory of the heroes of Marwar. The festival is held at the iconic Umaid Bhawan Palace. It is graced by wonderful traditional performances by folk dancers and singers. It is a wonderful way of getting an insight into the heroic heritage of Marwar and a glimpse of their rich cultural tradition.
The second largest animal fair (the first being Pushkar Fair) in Rajasthan is held in January-February and is renowned for the trading of cows, bullocks, oxen, camel and horses. The animals are decorated colourfully and the owners dress up equally lavishly. One of the main attractions of the fair is a chilli bazaar- Nagaur is anyway famous for its red chillies. The fair is full of contests such as camel races and bullock races and performances by a veritable list of entertainers ranging from jugglers to puppeteers. The colourful bazaars are perfect avenues to go on a shopping spree. Music performances are also organized.
9) Mewar Festival
Coinciding with the Gangaur Fetsival, this festival is held in Udaipur during the months of March-April. It signifies the coming of spring. Women carry images of gods to the Gangaur Ghat by Lake Pichola. Soon after this, cultural performances are organized by the Rajasthan Tourism Department. This 18 day festival brings alive the beautiful city of Udaipur.
10) Braj Festival
Braj Festival takes place few days before Holi in the month of March. Held in Braj, a beautiful area around Bharatpur (of the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary Fame), it celebrates the festival of spring. Characterized by spontaneous expressions of music and dance by locals, this is one festival that has not been commercialized yet. Participate in the Braj Festival to celebrate the pure and effervescent beauty of Rajasthan.