India is a diverse nation. Everyday people are celebrating something in various parts of this huge nation. We know about many religious and cultural festivals but have very basic (in many cases none) knowledge about the art themed fairs & festivals celebrated across the country along with some traditional religious festivals which are pulling many tourists now a days.
This specific Travel series of mine concentrates on the calendar of those festivals which every Indian should proudly attend and enjoy!
The fair is held for three days every year in August. The 2017 dates of the fair are 25th to 27th August. The 2018 dates are yet to be announced.
Where & How to Reach?
The Tarnetar Mela is also known as the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Mela. The mela or fair is organised in a village called Tarnetar in the town of Thangadh. Chotila is the nearest town or city center from Tarnetar which has ample options for accommodation. There are a few lodges and small scale hotels in Thangadh (8.2 km i.e. 17 minutes away from Tarnetar). But still I would recommend you to secure your stay in Chotila. Chotila is very well connected by roads to all the major cities in the state. The nearest railway station to Chotila is Than Junction, which is 23 km i.e. 35 minutes away from the destination. The nearest airport to the destination is Rajkot (45.1 km i.e. 50 minutes away).
Gujarat tourism also offers special packages and tented accommodation which you can review on their official website.
What is it?
The fair is held at the grounds of the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Temple. The festival and the mela are celebrated together as a ceremony of the wedding of Mahabharata characters Arjun and Draupadi. According to numerous mythological tales, Draupadi swayamvar took place in Tarnetar. This was the location where young Pandav Prince Arjun won Draupadi by piercing the eye of a fish in the pond. The tradition of holding such a swayamvar continues here even today. Unmarried men and women from tribal communities visit the fair looking for a prospective match. According to the customs the men stand under embroidered umbrellas looking for a bride while the women go around with an umbrella looking for a groom. The single women wear red zimi (skirt) and married women wear black zimi. The bachelor men wear colourful dhotis, artistically designed waistcoats and a Pagadi (head-cloth twisted at an angle).
This vibrant mela opens you to the colorful and vibrant Gujarati culture. Women wearing colorful costumes perform folk dance to music and showing off their glittering jewelry. Rabari women of nearby Zalawad perform the famous circular folk dance called rahado. Nearly two hundred women perform rasadas (a famous traditional dance form) in a single circle, to the beats of four drums at a time and the tunes of jodia pavas (double flutes). You can also enjoy a cattle exhibition in the fair. The villagers also organize Rural Olympics along with bullock cart and horse race. The colorful umbrellas are also one of the main attractions of the fair. Many bhajan mandalis (groups who play religious music) attend the festival to entertain their audiences with their strong voices and special instruments. A large portion of mela covers shopping stalls for tourists. People sell coulorful umbrellas, ethnic jewelry and small statues of deities as well as traditional attires with tiny mirrors embroidered into the clothing.
The fair is attended by more than 50,000 people each year. Kolis, Rabaris, Bharwads, Khants, Kanbis, Kathis, Charans, the Harijans and the Desh-rabaris participate in this fair in huge numbers.
Around the destination
Kutch is 303 km away from Chotila. If you are visiting the fair, I will surely advice you to visit Kutch along.