Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Not a single tourist present besides me. No Indian tourist. No foreign tourist.No men tourists. No women tourists. ONLY locals. ONLY villagers. And me.
This is simply not a place for outsiders.
Because one might either die of shock at seeing the humongous crowds or one might die of awe at seeing the beauty of the colors of the Garasia tribe present here.
Young and old, men and women jostle and rush in both directions fighting for foot space, struggling to give attention to all the wonderful things on offer here. This is their time for celebration. It is their time of merriment. And their time to find brides and grooms.
Veils and turbans of all colors dot the scene and it becomes hard to focus on any one as a few dozen others scream out for attention. Its like having a hundred of your kids nudging you at once for attention. It probably drove my camera lenses a bit crazy – not knowing what to feast on.
This fair held annually about 60 km from the nearest railhead is a village fair.A classic Indian village fair. A local state transport bus from the bus stand in Udaipur is the easiest (an possibly the only) way to get here. I sat amidst villagers – men and women going beyond my destination conducting their regular daily life. A young twenty year old man sat on the seat in front of mine and entertained himself on this journey (an unbeknownst to him, also entertained me) by flirting with 2 different girls on 2 different cell phones. A long ride made interesting with forced eavesdropping!
Coming back to the fair – these fairs have been the subject of many old Bollywood movies. A family favorite ‘Teesri Kasam’ features the most beautiful woman of Indian cinema Waheeda Rehman playing the role of a dancing girl who performs at fairs.
Other movie plots use the crowded setting of a fair as the starting point of many stories – with children getting separated from their parents in these fairs and lovers using the crowds as a cover for eloping.
In the olden these fairs were the only forms of entertainment. Offered there were mega-shopping opportunities – things brought in from all parts of the country, eating opportunities with food from different parts of India and the latest rides and games.
But in these villages, the ‘olden days’ as I knew them (from movies :)) have survived. And the essential character of the “village fair” lives up to my imagination and surpasses it. Because my imagination – created on the basis of B&W movies did not prepare me for the colors of tribal Rajasthan!
The shopping, the food, the giant wheels, the smiles and the chatter all were as imagined – with the addition of countless rainbows thrown in.
And once people had partaken of all these purchaseable joys, then the real fun began. The drinking, the dancing and the courtship takes over the night.
Yes, this is India. Rural India. Non Victorian India.
A short video of the fair at around noon, when people had just begun to gather from other villages. The crowds at this time were about 25% of the crowds I saw at the time I left at about 6pm. And I was told that the 6pm crowd was probably 50% of the final number expected at night.
Much higher than the numbers Mumbai CST station at 6 pm – which I used to think was an unbeatable record. But I was probably wrong.
Still images from the fair below:
More hi-res pro images at JainaMishra.com (now wovensouls.com)
This visit was something I was totally unprepared for until a day before my trip. One conversation with a local contractor made me aware of this and I made arrangements to head out. Mentally I had no idea what I was getting into. Had I known I would have made better arrangements and stayed the night and taken part in the night festivities as well.
This gives me a reason to return to this enchanting event in a small hamlet in Rajasthan