Tarnetar Fair – Tribal Fair in The Land Of Mahadev
In the era of the legendary epic Mahabharata, Pandavas King Arjun pierced the eye of the fish above him by only looking at its reflection in the water in order to win Draupadi’s hand for marriage; this swayamvar was organized at the Trinetreshwar Temple at Tarnetar village of Gujarat. Such goes the regional folklore about one of Gujarat’s and India’s most famous Tribal festivals- The Tarnetar Mela or as it is more formally called Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair.
This fair held every year in the Bhadrapad (August-September) month of the Hindu calendar, is attended by all of the nearby tribal groups of Koli, Bharwad, Rabari, Khant, Kanbi, Khati and Charan. About hundred thousand people attended the event in the previous edition.
About 75 km from Rajkot, in the Surendragarh District of Gujarat, lies this small hamlet called Tarnetar, which is host to a magnificent festival that celebrates tribal art, dance and music, but that’s just the crux of it, the major motive of the fair is a big community wide Swayamvar where girls choose their prospective bridegrooms for an eventual marriage. The prospective bridegrooms wear rich, embroidered traditional tribal costumes and carry an umbrella with them. These umbrellas and the hair style of the young boys are the distinguishing factor, and end up becoming the decisive factor in winning the most beautiful bride. The youth of the tribal groups work for almost a year on designing, coloring and embroidering the umbrellas for this very day.
The most precious thing of the fair is the spontaneity with which everyone just breaks into dancing upon listening to tribal folk music, the atmosphere is so immersing that you feel as if you are bound to the place, its culture and people. The color, the beautiful folk costumes, dance, music everything seems like a celebration of being one with the other. The village is also host to a Kund or artificial lake called ‘Papanshu’, whose water is believed to be as pure as that of holy River Ganges. After the Uttrayan Kite Festival, this is the next major festival Gujarat offers to the people who come to be enchanted by it.