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Rajasthan’s vibrant local costumes are at their most dazzling during the state’s festivals. For dates of specific events, ask at tourist offices; most festivals fall on days determined by the lunar calendar.
Nagaur Cattle Fair (late Jan/early Feb). Thousands of farmers and around seventy thousand steers, cows and bullocks descend on Nagaur, south of Bikaner.
Desert Festival (Feb). Three-day event in Sam, near Jaisalmer.
Elephant Festival (Feb/March). Parades of brightly painted elephants march through the streets of Jaipur, concluding with an extraordinary elephant-versus-mahout tug of war.
Mewar Festival (March/April). The ranas of Udaipur welcome the onset of spring with three days of traditional dances, the lighting of a sacred fire, and music by the city’s famous bagpipe orchestra. Women play a prominent role.
Gangaur (March/April). In homage to Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva, wives pray for their husbands, and unmarried girls wish for good suitors. At its best in Jaisalmer and Mount Abu.
Tilwara Cattle Fair (held over a fortnight in March or April). One of Rajasthan’s biggest livestock markets, held at Tilwara, 93km southwest of Jodhpur.
Urs Ajmer Sharif (April/May). India’s largest Islamic festival.
Rani Sati Mela (Aug). Vast crowds gather in Jhunjhunu for a day of prayers and dances in memory of a merchant’s widow who committed sati in 1595.
Pushkar Camel Fair (Nov). More than three hundred thousand visitors converge on the world’s largest livestock market and Rajasthan’s most colourful festival.
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