DatesStart Date: 05-02-2020 End Date: 09-02-2020
Baneshwar Fair, also known as the Kumbh of tribes, specifically Bhil tribe. The history of this fair is 500 years old. The Bhil tribe, which not only resides in Rajasthan, but also in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, come to Dungarpur just to attend this fair. This itself defines that this tribe takes its rituals and traditions very seriously. The customs and traditions are followed religiously by the tribe during this fair.
The term “Baneshwar” is very much related to “Shivling” as this tribe is a devotee of Lord Shiva and also because in their traditional language Vagdi, Baneshwar stands for Shivlinga. In fact, the fair and puja also starts from the Mahadev temple. However, the true meaning of “Baneshwar” is “master of the delta”. The area of Dungarpur is near a delta, this makes the term Baneshwar very relatable. According to the Hindu calendar, this fair starts from Magh Shukla Ekadashi and lasts till Magh Shukla Purnima. The term Magh here refers to the month of February, as the month of February is called Magh in Hindi. On the day of Magh Shukla Ekadashi, the priest, traditionally called Mathadhish, is welcomed to the site where the fair is supposed to begin. The priest brings a 16cm silver image of Mavji, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, on horseback to the site where the puja is supposed to commence.
Traditionally it is also believed that if Mathadhish (the priest) takes a dip in the river water, it becomes pure. After the priest has taken a bath in the river water, the ashes of the ones who had passed away are thrown into the river, assuming that it would give peace required by the soul of the dead. In Bhil tribe, it is considered sacred to throw the ashes of the dead into the sacred rivers, then and only then the soul of the dead will rest in peace. The ashes of men are wrapped in white cloth will those of women are wrapped in red cloth. The priest, which is brought in by the family members, continues the elaborate ritual of Moksha (peace) and the family members pay their last homage to the ones who have passed away in the previous year.
Taking a bath in the river is considered very sacred and cleansing. After the wailing of the ashes is done, the members of the family clean themselves by taking a bath in the holy river water. After them, it’s the turn for the ones who did not bring the remains of the dead. It’s now their turn to take a bath in the sacred river water and clean away all their sins. After the cleansing process is done, the people of the tribe enter the fair.
The temple of Mahadev, opens at 5 in the morning till 11 at night, just when the fair is held. For the morning aarti, the Shivlinga is bathed with holy water and saffron is drizzled on it then incense sticks are lit and waved over the Shivlinga. For the evening aarti, ash is put on the Shivlinga and burning Diya is waved over the Shivlinga. The devotees offer ghee, rice puffs, coconut and cash as offerings.
There are numerous things done in the fair but the most important out of all is the performance of Rasleela for all the devotees. The devotees also sing their folklores in high pitched voices. The organization of the fair is however, only partially done by the tribes. The fair includes a lot of entertaining things such as magic shows, folk dances and also a traditional way of entertainment, the puppet show. This fair is also the place to sell goods at amazing prices. For all the tourists who are planning to visit Rajasthan, do visit Dungarpur during the month of February as this is the time when the travelers will get the traditional artifacts at a reasonable rate in the fair like the puppets, marble works, traditional bangles and things made out of glass.
A lot of stalls in the fair also offer authentic Rajasthani food like dal baati, churma, gatte ki sabji, ghewar and much more. The food items are endless, so for all the foodies who want to visit Rajasthan, February is the perfect month for you.
Since Rajasthan is the land of Rajputs and brave worriers, hunting and shooting are two basic things for people here. In the fair you can also get swords and spears, bow and arrow made out of bamboo is also sold, this is an authentic piece for hunting among tribes. The Bhil tribe has an amazing talent and love for archery. Because of their amazing talent in the field of archery, they were even talked about in the great “Mahabharata”. In fact, the term “Bhil” is derived from the word “bhilli” which in local language stands for bows. This tribe is not just limited to archery, they are also famous for their traditional dance Ghoomer and their beautiful paintings called Pithora. For the tourists who are big time art lovers, must definitely visit this fair to buy the traditional pieces of goods. And the best part about these paintings is that they are handmade and by buying those paintings, it would promote their art more into the world.
Rajasthan is a place of diverse talent. Traditional art forms like the dance Ghoomer and authentic paintings like Pithora are also only seen here. By visiting and witnessing things like these, it’s a huge promotion of their art form. These beautiful art forms, if introduced to the world, would make it worth a lot more than it already is. These kind of art forms are priceless and can only be seen in this beautiful place called Rajasthan, the land of worriers. By visiting such fairs it would definitely improve their revenues and would also be a big help for them to organize the same fair with better amendments the following year.
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