Rajasthan is situated in the north-western part of India. It covers 342,239 square kilometres (132,139 square miles). Rajasthan lies between latitudes 23 degree 3'and 30 degree 12', north and longitudes 69 degree 30' and 78 degree 17', east. Compared to many countries that are located in a similar latitudinal belt, such as in northern Arabia, Rajasthan has a less harsh climate. The State's scorching and dry summers and its parched landscape is undergoing significant changes because of the developmental effort that have led to the spread of the Indira Gandhi Nahar.
The southern part of Rajasthan is about 225 km from the Gulf of Kutch and about 400 km from the Arabian Sea. Rajasthan is bounded by Pakistan in the west and north-west; by the State of Punjab in the north; by Haryana in the north-east; by Uttar Pradesh in the east, by Madhya Pradesh in the south-east and Gujarat in the south-west.
The Aravali mountain ranges that run from Delhi to Gujarat cut through the State almost vertically. The Aravali ranges divide the State through south-east and north-west. The north-west region covering two-thirds of the state consist mostly of a series of sand dunes. Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and part of the Jhunjhunu districts form part of this region. The eastern region has large fertile tracts.
The climate of Rajasthan varies from semi arid to arid. The mercury touches 49 degrees centigrade at some places during summer and drops below freezing point during winter.
Though the average annual rainfall ranges between 200-400 mm, it is as low as 150 mm in extreme arid zones and as high as 1000 mm in the south eastern part of the State. Most of the rainfall (60-80%) is received with the South west monsoon in the period from July to September. The average number of rainy days vary from 6 to 42 depending on the aridity of the area.
People and Administration
The people of Rajasthan are famously called the Marwaris. The term Marwari has come to mean a canny businessman from the State of Rajasthan. The Birlas, Goenkas, Ruias, Singhanias, are among the top business groups of India. They are the famous marwaris from Rajasthan. The people of Rajasthan are of course, a lot more than the popular marwari. The term marwari is used rather sweepingly over a diverse set of people.
Equally famous are the Rajput chieftans of Rajasthan. These are the ones who built the grand forts, palaces and havelis of Rajasthan. History is replete with legends of their bravery, their romantic forays and their adventures. Local ballads sing songs of their valour and their sacrifices.
Rajasthan comes alive with exuberant folk dances, melodious music and spectacular festivities. Typically, men still wear twirling moustaches and women adorn themselves in multihued costumes. The people speak local dialects, and an old saying explains that the dialect and the men's turban change every 24 miles. The group of dialects spoken in Rajasthan is called Rajasthani.
Traditional Rajasthani music is very typical. The folk music has a very melodious and typically local flavour. Bards sing ballads of local heroes in this musical style. This has also attracted the attention of modern day music composers. Music also received the patronage of the kingdoms of Rajasthan till recently. This led to the development of classical Hindustani music in the courts of the Palaces.
Rajasthan has a fair for every religious occasion, for every change of season and for every harvest. The people of Rajasthan work hard, are peaceful and law abiding and enjoy their culture, their music, festivals and fairs.
The 2001 Census of India enumerated 56.5 million people in Rajasthan. About 70 per cent of these live in eastern and south-eastern regions of the State. Hindi is the predominant language spoken. Besides, Rajasthan and several dialects of Hindi are widely spoken. Business is conducted in Hindi and English. Literacy is 61 per cent. The prominent religions practised are Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism.
There are 32 administrative units, Districts, in Rajasthan. Jaipur is the Capital of the State. The Congress party has been elected to power.
The High Court is situated at Jodhpur, with a bench at Jaipur.
- State Tree - Khejari
- State Flower - Rohida
- State Bird - Godawan or Great Indian Bustard
- State Animal - Chinkara (an antelope)
The camel festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Rajasthan Government in January every year in Bikaner. The festival begins with a colourful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh fort. The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the directions of their trainers. bridal bridles, bejeweled necks, jingling anklets and camel shadows, cast a spell on the audience. In the evenings, is held a traditional rendezvous of renowned artistes and folk performers of Rajasthan.
The fair is held every year in January-February in Nagaur, is a trading fair for cattle and camels and gives one an opportunity to catch up with rural life as owners from all over the state camp on the outskirts of the town while they buy and sell animals. the hides of the animals, cut into wonderful patterns, are particularly attractive.
This 18-day festival is celebrated to welcome the advent of spring and coincides with the festival of Gangaur in Udaipur. It is significant for the women of the state as it is time for them to dress in their best. The women gather to dress the images of Issar and Gangaur and then carry them in a ceremonial procession through different parts of the city. The procession ends up at Pichhola Lake where the images are transferred to special boats amidst singing and festivity. Cu1tura events are held at the end of the festivities and they include songs, dances and a display of fireworks.
Kaila Devi Fair
The fair is held in March or April in Kaila village in Karauli district and it holds an important place among the celebrated fairs of the state. The fortnight-long fair is held on the banks of the river Kalisil in the hills of Trikut about 2 kilometres from Kaila village. It houses the images of Mahalakshrni and Chamunda. Kaila Devi has been regarded as the guardian deity throughout the ages by the Khinchis, the Yadavas and the princes of Karauli. A small temple dedicated to Bhairon is situated in the courtyard and facing the shrine of the devi is the temple of Hanuman. Throughout the year, there is a steady flow of devotees.
Mahavir Ji Fair
This fair is held at Mahavir Ji between March and April to commemorate Shri Mahavir Swami, the 24th tirthankara (saint) of the Jams. The temple is located in an enclosure known as katala where devotees come to pay homage.
The three-day festival is held at Mount Abu in June every year and is a feast of folk and classical music and window to the tribal life and culture of Rajasthan. The festival begins with the singing of a ballad which is followed by Gai Ghoomar and Dhap folk dances. Boat races and qawwalis are also organised.
Held during the monsoons, July Teej is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati and this time it is married women who pray for a happy and long married life. Though celebrations are held all over the state, it is particularly colourful in jaipur where a procession winds Its way for two days through the Old City. It is the festival of swings which are decorated with flowers and hung from trees. Young girls and women dressed in green clothes sing songs in celebration of the advent of the monsoon. The Teej idol is covered with a canopy whereas the Gangaur idol is open.
The fair is held at Gogamedi in Ganganagar district in August in memory of a popular hero of the area known as Goga among the Hindus and Jahar Peer among the Muslims. The Kayam Khani Muslims claim to be descendants of his. Gogaji is popular as a snake god and almost every village in Rajasthan has a sacred place dedicated to him. Staunch followers of Gogaji believe that by invoking his name, a snake bite and other diseases can be cured. It is said that Gogaji went into samadhi at GogaMedi and thousands of devotees gather there to pay homage at his memorial every day during the Fair which lasts three days. The samadhi is a marble structure with two minarets fortified by a boundary wall. The idol of Gogaji is seated on a blue horse with a snake coiled around the neck.
Though Kaliteej is celebrated all over the state, the one in Bundi is different in the sense that it is held on different dates from the rest of the state. The festival starts with the procession of goddess Teej in a decorated palanquin from the imposing Naval Sagar and passes through the main bazaars. The procession comprises decorated elephants, camels, bands, performing artists and colourfully dressed people. Though the main function is held for only two days, the celebrations continue into Janamashtami, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna.
The Ramdevra Fair is held in Ramdevra village in Jaisalmer in August or Septembet The village has got its name after Baba Ramdev, a Tanwar Rajput, who took samadhi in 1458 He had miraculous powers and legend goes that five peers from Mecca came to test his powers. After being convinced, they paid homage to him. The Hindus regard him as an incarnation of Lord Krishna. A large fair is held here which is atteflded by lakhs of devotees who come in large groups from various places. Bhajans and kirtans right through the night are organised.
Held in October in Jodhpur, this annual two-day event attempts to showcase the art and culture of the Jodhpur region. It is devoted mainly to singing and dancing. Originally known as the Maand festival, the folk dancers provide a glimpse of the days of yore, of battles and valiant heroes who still live on in their songs. Other attractions are camel tatoo show and polo. The venues are the impressive Umaid Bhavan Palace, Mandore and the Mehrangarh fort.
Dusshera is celebrated all over the country in different ways as also in Rajasthan. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. The tale of Rama and Sita and the battle fought between Lord Rama and Ravana are enacted on stage and it is called Ramlila. On the tenth day of the festival, huge effigies of the ten-headed Ravana and his brother Kumbakaran, stuffed with thousands of fire crackers, are set afire and the people then begin to rejoice.
Easily the most identifiable of all the fairs of the state, the Pushkar fair is held in November in Pushkar in Ajmer, where an eighth century temple of Brabma, draws the faithful. The place has about 400 shrines and temples around the lake. Legend has it that Lord Brahma, in search of a place to hold his yagna(religious ritual), dropped the lotus from his hand and the three spots touched by the flower were turned into lakes. These are today known as the Jyeshtha Pushkar, Madhyam Pushkar and Kanishtha Pushkar. Pilgrims bathe at the ghats and pray at the temple. Traders strike deals at the worlds largest camel fair, although horses are also sold. People gather together to camp in the desert and entertain each other with songs and dances and cook meals over camp fires. The camel, horse and donkey races are also popular and draw huge attendance. Rajasthan Tourism puts up a tourist village.
This three-day fair is held at Jhalrapatan near Jhalawar either in November or December next to the banks of the Chandrabhaga river which is considered holy by the people living in this part of the state. On the full moon night of Kartik Purnima, thousands of pilgrims take a dip in the rivet There is also a big cattle fair in which cows, horses, buffaloes, camels and bullocks are brought for sale.
Bikaner is the venue for this fair which lasts 10 days and the place is the sacred site where Kapil Muni is supposed to have meditated. The place has a lake with 52 ghats shaded by banyan trees. Devotees take a dip in the lake and pray in the temples. Aarti is performed twice a day and bhog is offered. People float lighted lamps in the sacred lake as part of the rituals. A cattle fair is also held where buffaloes, camels, horses and cattle are sold. Certificates and prizes are given away to the best breeders at the fair.