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Gujarat 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 traditions.

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.

Nearly 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
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 tradition.

February/March Fairs & Festivals

Kutch Utsav :
In 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, pilgrim centers.

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.

Bhavnath Festival-Mahashivratri
Just 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
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 Fair
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.

Janmashtami Festival
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 & Festivals

Tarnetar Fair
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.

Ravechi Fair
Ravechi 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 & Festivals

Nine 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 Fair
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)
A 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.

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