THE COLOURFUL TRIBAL FAIR:
The small hamlet of Tarnetar, about 75 kilometres from Rajkot is the site for one of Gujarat's most well known annual fairs, the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair popularly called the Tarnetar Mela.
In the first week of 'Bhadrapad' (August-September) Tarnetar, a quiet hamlet in Chotila Taluka of Surendranagar is transformed into a whirl of colour and excitement. The Tarnetar fair is one of the most colourful events in the state of Gujarat. This three-day fair is held at the Temple of Shiva or Trinetreshwar (three-eyed god) popularly known as Tarnetar.
There is a 'kund' (reservoir) here and it is popularly believed that a dip in its waters is as holy as a dip in the sacred River Ganges. The reservoir is also known as 'Papanshu' (the destroyer of sins).
The temple heavily renovated in the 19th century, is believed to be the site where Arjun won the hand of Draupadi in an archery contest. The popular belief associates the village with the 'swayamvar' (marriage) of Draupadi after Arjun performed the 'Mastsyavedh', an incredible feat of archery.
THE ZESTFUL VISITORS:
Like all the important tribal fairs, the Tarnetar Fair is attended by tribes from the adjoining areas of Koli, Bharwad, Rabari, Khant, Kanbi, Kathi, and Charan who indulge in dancing, competitive sports and other such forms of entertainment.
Villagers from all over Saurashtra, dressed in their traditional costumes and exquisite jewellery throng Tarnetar in their thousands for the fair which has been attracting an increasing number of visitors.
The special feature of the fair primarily created to fulfil social needs for members of Bharwad community, is that their matrimonial alliances are struck here (hence the reason for gorgeous traditional constumes worn by the people), a time honoured ritual that is still practised. The temple courtyard resounds with devotional music.
This fair is primarily a 'betrothal fair' or 'Swayamvar' for the tribal youth of today who still visit Tarnetar, to find them suitable brides. The tribal youth elegantly dressed in colourful dhotis, embroidered jackets and eye-catching turbans come to be chosen by village belles dressed in colourful finery.
The bachelors are usually identified by their large colourful embroidered umbrellas and their distinctive hairstyles. These umbrellas, which have become emblems of the fair, are embroidered by the tribal youth for over a year.
THE RHYTHMS OF FOLK MUSIC:
The beauty of this fair lies in the spontaneity with which the people joyously break into folk songs and folk dances to the rhythmic accompaniments of drums and an assortment of folk instruments. The young, both men and women, swing and sway in gay abandon to the throbbing rhythm of the 'ras garba' and the 'hudo' dance.
The most thrilling sight of all is the 'rasada', the fascinating folk dance performed by hundreds of women. Moving gracefully in a single circle. Dancing gaily to the accompaniment of four drums and 'jodia pava' (double flutes.) their gorgeous traditional costumes and captivating dances makes the Tarnetar Fair a unique synthesis of folk art.
Another distinctive feature of the fair is the 'Tarnetar Chhatri' (umbrella). These umbrellas are a delightful treat for the connoisseur of art. The umbrellas meticulously embellished with mirror work, intricate embroidery and enchanting lacework are worth seeing.
ARRANGEMENTS BY THE GOVERNMENT:
Gujarat Tourism makes arrangements for guided tours to Tarnetar both from Ahmedabad and Rajkot. With its mouth-watering Gujarati delicacies and typical 'kuba' huts and tent village. Tarnetar fair is a treat not to be missed.
Tarnetar fair can be a most memorable experience unparalleled in its mood and gaiety.