Tarnetar is famous for the three day Swayamvar ( husband-hunt)
organized every year in August/September. Colourfully dressed young
women walk through the fari and select a groom among the young men
collected under gorgeously embroidered umbrellas.
We reached Ahmedabad in
search of the colourful and vibrant culture of Gujarat and were told
to visit the Tarnetar fair to get the real feel of this state. We
hired a private taxi and started on the Ahmedabad Chotila
highway. On the way were several trucks and tempos filled with
colorfully dressed people- joy and expectancy on their faces, heading
for the same destination. At Chotila we saw a whitewashed temple with
a single flag fluttering in the sky. From there a very bumpy road
took us to Than eight kilometers away.
Tarnetar village is
famous for its annual three days festival, held in the month of
Bhadrapad Sud 4th, 5th and 6th (
August/September). The name Tarnetar was originally Triniteshwar
or the three eyed Lord Shiva, whose temple is the main source of
attraction here. The festival is held around this sacred temple.
There is a kund or pond near the temple which has a famous
legend attached to it. According to the legend, Draupadis
Swayamwar was held around this pond and Arjun won the lovely princess
by piercing the eye of the fish rotating at the end of a pole, while
looking at its reflection in the ponds water.
The famous legend has
given rise to this festival at Tarnetar where a local Swayamwar is
held every year. The present day Swayamwar is equally interesting. We
saw beaming young men in traditional dress, sitting under gorgeously
embroidered umbrellas. Young women in reach of grooms went around
these umbrellas selecting groom. If a girl stops to talk to a man it
confirms her willingness to marry him. After the fair, the marriages are finalized.
The pond near the Shiva
temple is also considered sacred and the local people have great
faith in its powers. Most visitors do not leave the place without
sprinkling its holy water on their bodies.
For the people of
Saurashtra this festival is an ocassion to meet friends. Besides being a alliances and social meeting, it is also a market place for buying and selling cattle and crops.
The Tarnetar fair covers
a large area and the atmosphere is full of colour, music, dance, fun,
frolic and love. We saw many temporary stalls selling a variety of
local handicrafts. Some shops were selling ornaments for women like
multi-colured and silver and white metal jewellery. Other stalls were
selling colourful banjara or gypsy with traditional mirror work on
the blouse and skirts. Statues of various Gods, chiefly Lord Shiva
were also being sold.
Men and women were
thronging the stalls where they were getting the names of their
beloved tattooed on their forearms and the religious were getting the
names of their gods imprinted on their foreheads. Some women wanted
artificial beauty sports on their chin and cheeks!
For the children and the
adventurous there were merry-go-rounds, giant wheels as well as horse
riding. There was plenty to eat and drink- from typically Gujarati
snacks like batata-vada, shrikhand, bhajiya, bhel puri, dhokla to ice
creams, cold-drink and chilled sugar cane juice.
The festival was further
enriched with typical Gujarati folk dances- raas and
garba. The dancers were wearing beautifully embroidered
colourful waist-coats and their umbrella-shaped shirts were
billowing beautifully with their movements. The Tarnetar fair is also
famous for its Rasda and Hudo dances in which the clapping of hands
and stamping of feet demands a great sense of timing, which the women
learn through practice.
The drums and manjira
(cymbars), sounds fill the fair the air. A popular but unique
musical instrument, the Jodia Pava (double flute) was
being magnificently played by some of the young boys of Saurashtra.
We left the Tarnetar
fair, with beautiful memories of young girls choosing their grooms,
folk dances and songs, shopping and the colourful vibrant atmosphere
of joy and happiness.
Visiting Tarnetar Fair
The nearest airport is
Rajkot from where Tarneta village is 75 kilometres away. You can
reach Tarnetar From Ahmedabad by road and rail. The tourism
department also offers a Package tour.
The Tourism Department of
Gujarat arranges tented accommodation at the site of the Fair. A few
well-decorated mud huts with modern amenities are also made