could well be termed the 'Land of Festivals and Fairs' with
almost 3,500 of them being celebrated in different parts
of the state every year. Like elsewhere in India, the festivals
and fairs of Gujarat revolve around an occasion - be it
the turn of a season, the time for harvesting a golden field,
or a religious event from India's extensive and rich mythological
What's more, these fairs and festivals, governed by the
solar and lunar calendars of old world astrology, offer
the visitor an excellent opportunity to experience the diverse
cultural and religious identity of the people of Gujarat.
Gujarat has always
been known for its splendid and evocative festivals. An estimated
two thousand festivals are celebrated every year in Gujarat.
More than two hundred of these are unforgettable occasions
that attract tens of thousands of people. Though rooted in
religion and mythology, these celebrations centreing around
gods and goddesses are truly secular socials in which people
of all faiths participate.
3,500 small and big fairs and festivals are celebrated in
Gujarat every year. They are mostly organised during the change
of season. Festivals apart, even the fairs have a backdrop
of some relegious day or association. These are mostly held
in the vast open expanse. River sides, sea shores, sacred
ponds, hills, reservoirs and confluences of rivers. Fairs
are held on the full moon day. The cool bluish yellow light
of the full moon floating in the sky and its reflection causing
shimmers on the ripples of the river adds to the charm and
enhances the beauty of the landscape.
January Fairs & Festivals
Kite festival falls on January 14 each year heralds a change
of season, marking the movement of the Sun into the northen
hemisphere. Kite flying day in Gujarat is like no other day,
anywhere. On this day the sky all over Gujarat gets dotted
with innumerable kites. Kite flier engages another to prove
the superiority of his thread and the kite flying skill. Thousands
of Kites and Kite flying thread are prepared in advance. Since
1989, this regional highlight has been turned into an International
Kite Festival, sponsored by T.C.G.L. The Festival attracts
kite enthusiasts from all over the world.
Dance Festival : Modhera
The llth century Sun Temple at Modhra in North Gujarat, is
an impressive sight. The temple has its own architectural
importance. An annual festival of Indian classical dances
at the site of the Sun Temple is held during the third week
of January every year, after the festival of Uttarayan. Artist
of Indian classical dance perform their art during three days
festival. People from India and abroad to experience the cultural
February/March Fairs & Festivals
Kutch Utsav :
February there is very special opportunity to visit Kutch
intimately. Kutch Utsav: Ajourney in to history. A visit to
lndia's oldest traditional and cultural icons. Welcome to
Kutch Utsav- Forget the world. Kutch Utsav is a tour of life
and time of Kutch : Its beauty, its ethos, its traditions,
its history and its culture. It is the most unforgettable
experience of the world's oldest and richest cultural heritages.
It contains travel, entertainment and cultural exposure. Virgin
sea beaches, inscrutable desert lands, breathtaking landscape,
thriving wildlife, bird sanctuaries featuring exalted species
such as the Flamingo, historic monuments, forts and palaces,
During the tour, you will be a special guest of Tourism Corporation
of Gujarat Limited, and every requirement of yours - travel
, boarding, lodging, cuisine, sightseeing, tour guidance...
will be taken care of, with that unique Eastern hospitality.
at the foot of Mount Girnar in Junagadh is a temple called
"Vastrapata Kshetra". A five day festival of Bhavnath
is held on this hallowed ground during the Mahashivratri celebrations.
Prayers are offered in this Shiva temple after a dip in the
holy mrig Kunda. Lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country
converge on this place. Prior to the start of the Mahapuja,
a huge procession led by “Naga Bavas” (ascetics
with no clothes on) seated on gaily decorated elephants and
holding flags, gets under way. Series of cultural programmes
are arranged during the perod. Leading troupes and exponents
forms of dance, music and folk stage participate in these
events. Bhavai, folk songs and folk dances attract large audiences.
Mahashivratri fair is also held at Somnath.
March/April Fairs & Festivals
Dangs darbar is held every year in Ahwa, a few days before
Holi. If you want to witness the Tribal dances and hear thetribal
instruments, don't miss the most popular Adivasi fair - Dangs
Durbar. It is inhabited by the Tribals. Their life style is
almost the same today as it was thousands of years back. It
is a different world. Tribal chiefs in their colourful traditional
costumes attend the fair. Ancient tribal instruments called
Kahalia and Tadpur are played.
Holi – Festival of Colour
Holi is a festival of colour. With age being no bar, the young
and old alike take to sprinkling coloured water and Guial
(coloured powder) on one another. Bonfires are lit in the
main squares of the villages, localities and colonies, Men,
women and children collect at the time of the bonfire and
sing and dance. The bonfire is the symbolic repetition of
the victory of good over evil.
Chitra Vichitra is a Tribal fair which takes place 14days
after the Holi at Gunbhakheri' village near Khedbrahma. The
fair is organised at the confluence of rivers and has accociation
with the unique curing powers of the place. It is said that
Chitravira and Vichitravira were cured of diseases when they
stayed at this place. The fair takes its name after these
two people. Thousands of Garasia and Bhil Adivasis visit the
fair with their own drums. The atmosphere becomes alive with
folk songs of women.
July / August Fairs & Festivals
Rathyatra of Jagannath Puri, in Orissa, is world famous. A
similar festival takes place in Ahmedabad too. Right from
the break of dawn, thousands of devotees throng the Jagdish
temple in the heart of old Ahmedabad City. A massive procession
is taken out. The idols of Krishna, Balram and Subhadra are
placed in the main temple charot. This chariot is then pulled
by thousands of devotees. Caparisoned elephants, camels and
decorated trucks accompany the procession. It passes through
various streets and lanes of the city.
Gokulashtami or Janamashtami is a special and very joyous
occasion. All the major temples, including Dwarka and Dakor,
specially dedicated to Lord Krishna are colourfully decorated
on this day. Bhajans and Kirtans in these temples are the
highlights of the day long celebrations. At the stroke of
midnight, when Lord Krishna was born, the chants hailing Lord
Krishna rend the air and the devotees go ecstatic. There are
also live enactments of the scenes from his childhood specially.
The Ras, introduced by Lord Krishna himself in, Gujarat, is
performed in temple and homes. Men and Women both participate
in this rhythmic and colourful folk dance.
August / September Fairs &
Tarnetar is a small village about 75 kilometers from Rajkot
in Saurashtra. Here, one of the most colourful fairs in the
State takes place. Elegantly dressed in colourful dhot s,
waistcoat and head cloth twisted at an angle on their heads,
they hold large colourful embroidered umbrellas which indeed
have become emblems of the fair. Tarnetar is one of the most
important matchmaking melas. An ancient Shiva temple is stood
on the site. The present temple was built on the banks of
a rivulet and has a kund or reservoir in the traditional manner.
It is usually attended by at least 50,000 people. The participants
are tribal people belonging to various groups, such as the
koli, Bharwad, Rabari, Kanbi, Kathi, Charan, and other Castes.
The folk music and folk dances are the principal attractions
of the fair. Tribal folk dressed in their most colourful embroidered
garments and dashing headgear, give themselves up to merrymaking.The
fair is held for three days in September.
Mata Temple is located near Nana Reva in Rapar Taluka of Kutch.
A grand fair is held on Bhadra Sud Atham of Hindu Calender.
More then 30 thousand people participate in Ravechi Fair,
mainly Ahir, Rabari & Charan communities. Special buses
are made available during the fair.
Bhadra Purnima Fair : Ambaji
Ambaji village lies at the foothills of the Aravalli mountain
range in north Gujarat. It is the principal shrine of the
goddess in Gujarat. The temple of Ambaji is recognised as
one of the original Shakti Pithas. On full moon days there
is a virtual festival at Ambaji, but the full moon of Bhadrapad
is one of the four most important festival days of the year,
when agriculturists go to the temple in their thousands, along
with members of the general public. There is a large fair
on this occasion, while in the evening performances of Bhavai
are held, and garba programmes are organised. Over five Lacs
people come here during Bhadra Purnima fair.
October/November Fairs &
days preceding Dussehra have a special significance for the
people of Gujarat. They celebrate Navaratri festival which
is by far the most colourful and prominent festival in the
State.These celebrations are part of the worship by the followers
of the Shakti cult. Meni women and children participate in
the Garba dance to the accompaniment of chorus singing and
beating of the drums and other folk instruments. There are
Garba competitions in major cities and towns. In the Garba
and Ras dances there is music, rhythm, grace, sweetness and
above all colour. It is mode of culture and self expression
of a people unique to Gujarat. On the day following the completion
of nine nights, Dussera festival is celebrated. The day marks
the victory of Lord Ram over the demon King Ravan who had
abducted Lord Ram's consort Site. Effigies of Ravan, Meghnath
and Kumbhakarna, stuffed with crackers, are burnt at a number
of places. The day signifies the victory of good, personified
by Ram, over evil, personified by Ravan.
Deepavali – The Festival of Lights
After vanquishing Ravan and rescuing Sita, Lord Ram made a
triumphant return to his Capital Ayodhya where he was crowned.
To mark the joyous occasion people decorated their homes with
lamps and since then this day is celebrated as Deepavali –
the festival of lights. The backdrop of the black night enhances
the beauty of the tiny earthen oil lamps decorating the houses.
On this day, people worship Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth,
Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and arts, and Lord Ganesh,
the God of plenty. To mark this joyous occasion, a large number
of crackers are burst. The next day of Deepavali is celebrated
as a New Year’s in Gujarat.
Vautha is some 60 kilometers from Ahmedabad where a fair is
held at the Sangam Tirth which is the conf luence of seven
rivers. This is one of the biggest fairs in the State. A magnificent
fair is held every year at Vautha, where two rivers, the Sabarmati
and the Vatrak, meet. The Vautha Mela site is 3 square miles
in area. In the now temporary township at the fair site, visitors
have a choice or several pastimes to indulge in. This is the
only major animal trading fair in Gujarat. About 4000 donkeys
are brought every yearfor sale, usually by Vaniara traders.
Shamlaji Fair ( Kartik Purnima Fair)
three week long fair is held at Shamlaji in Sabarkantha district
of north Gujarat is held during the month of November, every
year. The shrine of Shamiaji is one of the principal Vaishnav
shrines. People from the adjoining State of Rajasthan also
attend this fair. The Shamlaji Temple is a renowned Vaishnav
shrine. It was built in the 11th century. There are several
other temples and shrines as well, all of great antiquity.
It lasts for about two weeks. During this period, nearly 200,000
people of all communities and castes including the Garasias
& Bhils, visit the fair. The fair is also popular with
the tribal people of the area, particularly the Bhills, who
revers Shamlaji. Apart from a darshan of the deity in the
temple, a bath in the river Meshwo is considered essential.
Visitors usually come in groups, an sing devotional songs,
carrying religious banners.