The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is an annual event that is organized every year during the month of February in the golden desert city of Jaisalmer. This year (2016), the event is falling on the 20th of February, 3 days before the full moon rises in the Hindu month of Magh.
The festival is organized by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and is a riot of color and fun as you get three whole days of folk music, dancing, traditional competitions and other entertaining events happening against the stunning backdrop of the stunning Jaisalmer Fort.
Jaisalmer Desert Festival Celebrations
The festival was originally celebrated to commemorate the fulfillment of a prophesy by Lord Krishna that a descendant of the Yadav clan would one day rule the kingdom set on the Trikuta Hill. In the year 1196, when a Yadav by the name of Rawal Jaiswal established his kingdom in Jaisalmer celebrations burst out throughout the kingdom and still continues as an extension of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.
The Jaisalmer Desert festival kicks off with a huge ceremonial procession called Shoba Yatra from Jaisalmer Fort to the Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium. Local Rajasthani men dress in their traditional clan costumes while women wear their finest, brightest, and most colorful costumes to participate in the 3 day extravaganza. The procession is a show of horses, camels and elephants and men carrying swords.
Folk musicians like the Manganiars belt out ballads about love and war and the trials and victories of desert life. The popular tune here is the sad and poignant rendition of the tale of Princess Moomal who set herself on fire to prove her love for Prince Mahendra. Dancing includes classical dance forms such as the Lavani and Kalaripayattu while the Gair and fire dancers who perform breathtaking stunts by spewing kerosene from their mouths onto flaming rods certainly steals the thunder every year. Another high point of the festival is the acrobatic gymnastics performed by the local nomadic Nats.
This years folk music highlights include performances from Swaroop Khan and the celebrated folk singer Manganiyar Ghazi Khan and the festivities will be concluded with performances from the voice of Jaisalmer, Kutle Khan.
When it comes to competitions, there are some traditional classics like the ‘turban-tying’ contest and the ‘best moustache’ contest along with some modern ones like the camel polo. The Border Security Force (BSF) Camel Tattoo and decoration event is also one to watch out for while the fashion conscious folks can enjoy the crowing of Mr. Desert or Maru-Shri.
Camels play a big role in the festival with camel races, camel-back stunts, camel tug of wars and the entertaining camel formation dancing programs adding thrill and excitement to the proceedings.
This year the Jaisalmer Got Talent show is being organized to find and honor fresh talent from the local artistes and performers in the field of art and music.
If that’s not entertainment enough you can watch the mesmerizing sway of the snakes as they are charmed by their masters and enjoy riveting folklore tales performed by puppeteers. There will also be a number of stalls displaying artifacts, handicrafts, and souvenirs where you can pick up great memories to take away with you when you return home.
The festival usually concludes on the full moon day with fireworks against the backdrop of the beautifully illuminated Jaisalmer Fort.
To experience an undiluted taste of Rajasthan and take home the colors and joy of the desert, be there at Jaisalmer on the 20th of February 2016.
How to Reach Jaisalmer
Jodhpur Airport is the nearest international airport. It is 337 kilometers away. You can either hire a taxi, take a train (there are 3 trains that run to Jaisalmer taking approximately 6rs to get there) or hop on a bus (operates every hour) to reach Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer is well connected by rail, which links to most of the major Indian cities. The railway station is located in the center of the desert city. Once you reach the station, simply hire an auto-rickshaw or taxi to go to your hotel.
You can take any state owned bus, luxury coach, sleeper AC bus, cabs, taxis or other private vehicles to reach Jaisalmer by road.0