Category Archives: Festivals

Why Love Jaipur?

Teej

Teej Festival

Living in Jaipur is as difficult or as easy as living any where else but here are some reasons why you will fall in love with Jaipur.

In the twelve months of a year you get to experience a whole gamut of  weather in Jaipur. There is hot summer, cold winter, hot & humid monsoons & the season when the winter just drifts in. Just when you are thinking I have had enough of this heat or cold or the rains the seasons change, and life goes on.

And with the change of season the eating habits also change. What food! In the monsoons you eat choorma dal baati in some picnic spot in the lap of the Aravali’s which are covered with solid green because of the rains. If you do not have time for a picnic a spot of rain & people are flocking the sweet shops for their favourite snack like samosa, pyaz ki kachri or mirchi bara or if they are watching their weight then they are sipping a hot cup of tea or a cup of coffee at the CCD. In the winters they are eating lal mans or khichda or drinking hot rabri. In summers they drink lassi & eat different varieties of mangoes which keep changing as the summer progresses.

Jaipur is a heaven for the photography enthusiast. Jaipur has it all. Besides the concrete jungle it also has monuments,huge forts, mountains, an artificially maintained fresh water lake, ancient havelies, temples, bazars, palaces, festivals, friendly people, flowers,birds & photography accessory shops.

Jaipur is doing its best to catch up with the four metropolitan cities of New Delhi,Mumbai,Kolkata & Chennai but life is still laid back & the distances are not what they are in the other metros. You can still drop by a friend for a drink or dinner an evening.

The festivals Jaipur celebrate around the year make sure that there is no ennui in the life of the people of Jaipur. Some major festivals are, holi, deepawali, raakhi,teej,gangaur and makkar sankranti.

If you thought all of the above would keep the people of Jaipur busy enough around the year, you would be wrong, because there are the Jaipur weddings! Some people just go to court to get married but others have such weddings that people from all corner of the world come to Jaipur to get married in a Jaipuri wedding.

These are some of the top reasons to love Jaipur. If you think otherwise please list your choices here below.

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Elephants Are The National Heritage Animals Of India

Jaipur Elephants

Elephants of Jaipur

Who does not know about the elephants of Amber? We have seen them at the foothill of the Amber fort waiting for their turn to give us a ride up to the Fort. We have seen them around the city in marriage processions and the yearly Teej & Gangaur processions & we have seen them perform at the Elephant Festival at Holi time. But do you know elephants have been declared the ‘Heritage Animal of India’ in October 2010 by the Environment Ministry of India.

60% of Elephants in Asia live in India where they have been part of the human existence for times immemorial. There are about 27,000 elephants in India. And about 3500 are in captivity. The intention of this welcome measure is to take active & concrete measures to  protect the tuskers and the environment they live in and to count them.

 

Shaktipeeth-Kaila Devi

At the Kaila Devi Temple

At The Kaila Devi Temple

Mahatama Kedargiri established the idols of Kaila Devi in the lap of Aravali mountain range on the banks of Kalisil river, in the Kaila village, in the year 1114 AD. Kalisil is a tributary of Banas river. When Mahatama Kedargiri was praying to the Goddess to stay in Kaila village as its protectress  she gave him darshan in her child image & later on she took on the image of destroyer of evil-hence two idols are established in the ‘Garbh grah’. It is believed that the She is a benevolent Goddess and does not punish the ‘pujaris’ or devotees if for some reason an unintentional slight occurs. The idols are made from a mixture of numerous metals. They are always wearing their costumes with only their faces visible. Kaila Devi is the one of the ‘roops’ of Goddess Mahalaxshmi. Kal Bhairav & Shri Ganesh are ‘Languria’ or ‘adisevak’ of Kaila Mata. Their idols are right in front of the temple of  Kaila Devi. The devotees try to gain favour with the ‘Languria’ by singing ‘bhajans’ in his praise in the belief that his worship is a short cut to Kaila Mata blessing them sooner. Devotees from all parts of India, from all walks of life, throng the Kaila Devi temple in the hope that she will bless them and not see them return empty handed. And the generosity of the Goddess is such that she fulfills all their wishes and the devotees return in her presence time & again to express their gratitude.

A temple also houses the Idol of, Bohra ji, a devotee of Kaila Mata.

In 1116 AD the then ruler, Maharaj Mukunddas ,a Khichi rajput, built a temple around the shrine.

A meena tribal from the village of Peetupura worshiped Kaila Devi, who gave him a boon that from then on she would manifest herself in  his family members and they would be known as ‘Gothias’.

In 1153 Raghunathdas Khichi, after making additions to the then temple building, established the idol of Chamunda Devi also.

Karauli was established in 1405 AD by the then Yaduvanshi ruler Arjun Dev on the banks of Bhadrawati river some 25 kms from Kaila Devi. Since then the rulers of Karulai have taken it upon themselves to look after the day to day affairs of the Kaila Devi temple as the Goddess is also their ‘Kuldevi’.

At the Kaila Devi Temple

At The Kaila Devi Temple

Now a days a Kaila Devi Temple Trust looks after the affairs of the Temple and organizes the yearly Melas & does various other charity works like running a Non Government Organization (NGO) which runs a School for poor children & A Higher Secondary boarding school for girls. It also runs a handicraft workshop for the development of local women. Lots of small dams (Water Conservation projects) have been made, tree plantation has been done in the Kailadevi National Park which is a part of the project tiger and it’s a buffer zone to Ranthambore National park. The NGO  is also running  200 bed hospital. The NGO also cleans the Kalisil river of pollutants periodically as the devotees have a bath here before going to the Kaila Devi Temple for darshan.

When Emperor Akbar could not annex the Daulatabad Fort he asked for help from the Karauli Maharaj Chandrasen, whose son Prince Gopaldas, with Kaila Devi’s blessings, went to war with Akbar and the Fort was won.

Maharaj Jai Singh ji  added a dome to the temple and had it gilded with gold. He had a stepwell built for storage of drinking water.

Maharaj Bhawarpal had the Kalisil dam built. He also had a dharamshala built besides having facilitated the digging of the Durgasagar well, construction of shops & a road bordered by trees to the temple.

Timing for Darshan

Mangla Darshan 4 am to 4.30 am

Dhoop Arti 5.30-6.00 am in summers

6.00-7.30 am in winters

Shringar 8.00 am

Raj Bhog 11.15 am

Vishram Noon to 1.00 pm

Darshan 1.00-800 pm

7.20 pm is evening aarti

The goddess is offered Halva as Bhog. As the goddess is satvik & satoguni She is not offered liquor or meat.

Some Interesting facts about Kaila Devi

The green glass ‘Dhani’ bangles are worn by girls and married women alike. Young girls wear them for getting a suitable husband & the married women wear them for the long life of their husbands & to wish them well. Every year these bangles are sold in tens of thousands of numbers.

It is a shaktipeeth.

Nearby Places to visit

Karauli 25kms

Places of interest:

Bhanwar Vilas Palace & The City Palace of Karauli & the stepwell in the City Palace where the Royalty used to play Holi.

Madanmohan ji Temple.

According to legend it is very auspicious to have darshan at Madanmohanji Temple, Govinddevji & Gopinathji Temple in Jaipur in a single day.

Anjanimata temple on Pachna dam.

Nearest Railway Station to Karauli is Bharatpur- 35km.

Nearest Airport to Karauli is Jaipur- 180 kms

RSRTC plies roadways busses in countless numbers from all major towns & cities of Rajasthan to ferry devotees to Kaila Devi.

The Kailadevi National Park

Kedargiri Caves are 3 km away on the Kaila Devi-Karanpur road.

AMAR KUNJ YATRI NIWAS,(about 250 mts from the Kaila Devi Temple)

A nice place to stay with AC rooms with cable TV & attached bathrooms  & dining hall.

Phone:07464-228281, 093525-62262,097996-95126

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Mandana

Mandana

Mandana

The  art of painting the walls & floors of their homes by the ladies of the house with simple or intricate drawings is practiced almost all over India, though the names by which it is called may vary from state to state. In Rajasthan it is called ‘Mandana’. The designs are as many and as varied as the women painting them. They are simple.They are intricate. Mother teaches the daughter how to draw them. They are made right after the walls of the mud hut and floor have been given a new coat of mud layer & right before the festivals to welcome the deities & the guests of the family living in the house. They are usually made with a mixture of white lime. The same stuff with which we whitewash the walls of a house. Terracotta may be added as per choice or requirement to add color. These designs have a short life span because they are open to the elements. City women also draw these designs on the floors of their homes,usually before a festival, to welcome the Gods to their homes. In the cities the women may use white and red poster colors & paint brushes to draw these designs to make them last longer. In the villages of Rajasthan people are using cement to build their homes so you do not see the use of these mandanas as much as in the  days of lore. They are still drawn on festivals and other auspicious days.

These pictures are from the Shilpgram at The Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK),Jaipur.They are  identical to the huts etc. in real villages.
Mandana

Mandana

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A Visit To Kaila Devi Mela

You must have heard the English idiom ‘God is in the details’.

It is very relevant when you are traveling in India off the beaten track by a RSRTC bus & are not a seasoned traveler of this vast land of ours. I had to go to Kaila Devi for darshan yesterday so I packed a toothbrush and hopped onto the first Roadways bus leaving Jaipur Sindhi Camp Bus stand in the general direction of Karauli & Kaila Devi village.

The bus headed out on to the NH11(Jaipur-Agra Highway). All went well till the Mehndipur Balaji Mor ( turning) from there on the bus took a badly carpeted single track  route to Hindaun City, through numerous minor villages, which at one point even crossed right through the Aravali range. I reached Hindaun City in the evening. But the direct bus to Kaila Devi was jam packed so I took the bus to Karauli & from Karauli I took a bus to the Kaila Devi Mela ground. The journey that started at 3.30 pm ended at midnight in Kaila Devi Mela Ground. The good thing was the influx of people to the Kaila Devi was such that there was no dearth of buses to Karauli or the mela ground. An important lesson learned was to ask about the duration of the journey also besides the category of the bus and the route taken by the bus.

If you can talk to your fellow passengers for nuggets of practical advice, nothing like it. You can be sure that they have been on this route more often than you. Rightly though, these days you are advised not to talk to your fellow passengers. They might cause you bodily or financial harm. You can check out sites like INDIAMIKE before leaving home for nuggets of information & practical advice.

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi village is situated some 180km from Jaipur and about 25km from Karauli on the banks of Kalisil river. In 1114 AD Mahatama Kedargiri established the idols of Kailadevi  here. It is a shaktipeeth.

After a short nap and shower I was on my way to the Kaila Devi Temple for the Mangla Arti darshan after 4 o’clock in the morning. The whole world was awake with one mission only. On the way up on both sides of the way to the temple the shops were selling numerous articles people offer to the deity like doras, sindoor, suhagan ka shringar-green dhani churis, sweet meats as prasad, books of bhajans & history of Kaila Devi, CDs of bhajans and food stuffs, snacks other things which would attract the devotees. When I  reach near the temple the temple guards form the devotees into a giant ‘Q’ which is moving ahead at a brisk pace. We reach the ‘garbh grah’ have darshan and are already on our way out. My world is at peace.

Navratras are always busy here. They want as many people as practically possible to have darshan. The sky is lighting up as I reach the guesthouse.

I have some tea and go up to the temple again at 7 o’clock. I want to take some pictures. If it is possible it is even more busy now. People are lighting up diyas and buying prasad and waiting their turn for darshan. I take some pictures and am back at the guesthouse where I have some breakfast and am back at the bus stand & book a ticket on a bus going direct to Jaipur.

One of our fellow devotees is an American with excellent hindi, who is on his way to Mehndipur Balaji. He is visiting all places where Balaji is worshiped.

After a long journey we are back in Jaipur at 6 o’clock.

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Lastly I must say that the mela administration Trust is doing  good work of a difficult job in  managing this yearly influx of humanity at the deity’s feet. The security was tight & helpful to the devotees. The RSRTC bus service was excellent, plentiful & timely.

Details About Kaila Devi

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Gangaur

The Idol

Gangaur is one of the most important festivals of Rajasthan.The word, Gangaur, is derived from joining the two words ‘Gan’ meaning Lord Shiva and’Gauri’ meaning Goddess Parvati, his consort.

As per lore, it is believed that Gangaur is celebrated ever since  Goddess Parvati returned to her father’s home first time after her marriage to Lord Shiv &  her friends welcomed her home.

Gangaur Procession Preparations

This is a festival of the unmarried girls and  married women where the girls celebrate the festival to gain a worthy husband & wish for his long life & the  married women wish for a  long life for their  husbands.
The rituals for this festival start on the day of the Holi dahan ( day before the Holi, the festival of colors). When ashes are collected from the Holi Fire to plant seeds of wheat and barley in it.
During the next sixteen days 16  Goddesses are worshiped. And on the 3rd day of Navratra ( new year according the Indian Vikram samvat Calendar) , Gangaur festival is held. When the Idol of Gauri  is taken out in a procession accompanied by horses, elephants, camel carts and brass bands playing maudlin tunes.It is said, in Jaipur, in olden times the idol of Gauri was accompanied with the idol of her husband,Isar. But one year ruler of Kishangarh state took it away with him forcefully & since then only the idol of Gauri is taken out in procession.

Gangaur Procession Preparations

What festival worth its name does not have a sweet associated with it? The traditional sweet of this festival is ‘Ghevar‘. The sweet shops of Jaipur make different varieties of ‘Ghevar’ and the people of Jaipur consume them in large quantities.

For more than 257 years,  Helakhyal sangeet dangal is held on this occasion in Lalsot near Dausa. This is when the performing  parties educated & inform the public about the societal mores  & also inform the  administration about their displeasure with current policies.

Gangaur Procession Preparations

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What Noise?

We have become so used to our noisy surroundings that we do not notice the noise any more. But how much is too much? Recently the State Government has outlawed the use of loud speakers after 10 pm. If  anybody is found using sound magnification equipment after 10 o’clock the equipment will be confiscated. This is a step in the right direction. They should go a step further and ban the use of sound equipment by the general public  all together. Presently any body can hook up a speaker to a mic  and blast away.
Legally you can use loudspeakers softly from 6 am to 10 pm, only after taking permission from the Jaipur administration. But how do you define softly. I think if you can hear the loudspeaker outside the venue where the function is taking place then it is too loud. The law is on the books but it is not enforced very strictly. The Police have other serious matters to attend to.May be they think, unlike others, these people are just having harmless fun, they will switch off the noise when they get tired.
Usually people try to keep up with their friends, family and the neighbors and try to better them. If the society were to frown upon the idea of loud noise as entertainment in any family or religious function, then nobody would do it. One other step that could be taken is to hold the owner of the equipment or venue responsible for judicious and responsible use of the sound system.
Next they should restrict using horns in the city. Have you noticed the traffic mostly just crawls on the  city roads. Why do we need the horns if that is the case.

Basant

The 6 seasons of the Indian year are as follows:

Grisham- Summer-April & May are Dry & Hot.

Varsha- Monsoon- June & July are Wet and Humid.The landscape around Jaipur turns  green.

Sharad August & September are less hot

Hemant- October & November are the start of winter

Shishir – December & January are Cold. Winter has set in.

Basant-Spring – February & March Not too hot not & too cold.

A Mustard Field in Full Bloom

Basant officially starts after Basant Panchmi or Rishi Panchmi ( 5th day of the Magh month), the day  when  goddess Saraswati was born and  is worshiped with  Lord Sri Krsihna and Kamdev and his wife Rati .Goddess Saraswati is the goddess  of  knowledge, art  & music. The goddess is dressed in white and her vahan are white swan and peacock. In her hands She holds a veeana, a book and a string of beads.She is worshipped in three roops, Maha Sarawati,Maha lakshmi and Maha kali.These are the three roops worshiped in the caves of  Vaishno Devi. People dress up in yellow to worship her and offer her yellow sweets and flowers and lotus.  It is the most auspicious day  to get married also. And people do so too in large numbers.

Basant  is the king of all  seasons. This is when nature rejuvenates itself. Taking a cue from nature hearts of all  men and women sing the joyous songs of life. Suffice it to say here that great  writers and poets in India and abroad have written panegyric after panegyric in praise of this season, in particular. Bihari and Padmakar,two poets from Jaipur, writing in Brijbhasa, have outdone themselves in describing basant.

On this day the idols in the Govind Dev Ji’s Temple wear yellow also.

Holi is its  main festival.

It was Rishi Panchmi when Lord Sri Ram graced  Shabri mata’s hut with his presence. He was on his way to find Goddess Sita.

In 1192 A.D. on Basant Panchami Prithviraj Chauhan and poet Chandbardai stabbed each other to death after a blind  Prithviraj Chauhan had killed Mohammed Gahori  in his own citadel.

In 1872 on Basant Panchami Guru Ram Singh Kuka was  apprehended by the British Forces and  sent to Burma to be incarcerated till death in 1885  in the Mandalay Prison.

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Makar Sakranti

Four Days After The Kite Festival

Every year at dawn on the 14th January a lot of people of Jaipur go to the Galtaji for a dip and there after give alms and donate blankets to the poor and feed cows green fodder and grain to the pigeons. Later in the day children and adults alike get on the roof top of their houses and fly multicolored kites, play blaring bollywood music and eat dal ke pakoras, revaries, gazak, phinie and til ke ladoos. One and only aim is to cut as many kites as possible. Food , body functions etc. can wait. The street urchins have a busy day as they try to collect as many cut kites as possible without any regard for their life or limb. The serious kite enthusiasts get invited to a home in the walled as that is where the real action is going to be.
A day before 14th January young and old alike shop for kites and string ( Sadda & Manjha) to fly them with.Budgets are the least of the constraints. Kites come in all colors and all shapes and sizes. They are even made of thin plastic sheets. Companies have their messages put on kites and on some photos of film stars are used to attract customers.There are even chinese made kites being sold in the markets.The master craftsmen who make kites and manjhas have been doing it for generations.
Once the booty is brought home the kites are readied for the next days action by stringing the kites and putting manjha on a sadda charkhy. Nobody wants to waste a single moment of the precious day on mundane details. There is a huge demand for black colored manjha as it is thought to have legendary powers to cut oppositions kites. Chinese manjha is to be avoided as it is coated with metal powder and can conduct electricity and can disrupt power supply if it falls on naked high tension lines.
Kite flying is simple enough if there is some wind blowing and somebody preps the kite for you. Long months of wasted youth flying kites are needed to learn the art of cutting the other guys kites. But once you get the knack every year 14th January will see you on your roof top enjoying the highs and lows of kite flying Jaipur style.
In 1878 Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh ji started the practice of flying kites on Makar Sakranti. Preparation for the festival would start 2 months before the festival date. Master craftsmen from Bareily & Ahemdabad were called to make manjha and kites.The Royals used to fly kites made of silver and gold and their charkhis used to be inlaid with gems. Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh ji was also a great kite flying enthusiast. His kite collection is on display in the City Palace Museum even today.There is mention of Lord Ram having flown a kite in Ramchrita Manas of Tulsidasji.
A couple of things to keep in mind when flying kites this 14th is to say no to manjha of any kind and to take good care of ones self. Because accidents do happen. Remember there will be other sankrats. There will be other kites to fly. And the manjha can seriously hurt the birds sharing the sky with your kites. If we will not be considerate of our feathered friends who will be.

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