Baneshwar festival is celebrated in the state of Rajasthan, India by the tribal people, especially the Bhils. Baneshwar in the local language means the master of the delta. This name was attributed to the Shiva Linga kept at the Mahadev Temple in Dungarpur. To celebrate this festival a huge fair is held for 4 days in the month of January or February during the Shivaratri. The delta formed by the two rivers namely, Mahi and Som, serves as the location of the fair.
The fair extends from MaghShuklaEkadashi to MaghShuklaPurnima. This festival is not only popular within the localities but people from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh also come down to participate in this fair. A good number of national and international tourists also visit the place to be a part of this gorgeous event. The handicraft shops in the fair pose immense attraction to the tourists.
History of the fair
The Baneshwar fair, as we see it now, is originally a merger of two different fairs. The daughter in law of Mavji, a saint, believed to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu, built a Vishnu temple in the area and the two disciples of Mavji, constructed the Lakshmi-Narayan temple near the meeting point of the two rivers Mahi and Som. The Pranpratistha or the material embodiment of the idol in the temple was performed on the auspicious day of MaghSuklaEkadashi and a huge crowd was collected at the time of the rituals, and it took a form of fair with time.
The other fair and the older one, was a fair held in the honour of Baneshwar Lord Shiva. The merger of these two fairs gave rise to the present day Baneshwar fair. In the present festival both the BaneshwarMahadeva and Mavji are prayed by the local people. The crowd at the fair is contributed by the people of Baneswar, Dungarpur and Udaipur.
The rituals at the festive
On the particular day of MaghShuklaEkadashi, the head priest popularly known as the Mathadhish, arrives at the fair site accompanied with a large procession. He takes a bath at the river and the water of the river is believed to become more holier at the time; so other people also take a bath in the river with the head priest. A huge silver statue of Mavji is also brought to the fairground carried in the horse back.
In the four days of the fair, the Baneshwar temple remains open from 5am to 11pm.Two timesarati is offered to the Baneshwar. In the morning, saffron and milk is applied to the Shivalinga and arati is performed with incense sticks, while in the evening, ash or bhabhut is applied to the Shivalinga and an arati of wick lamp or pradip is offered. In the Lakshmi Narayan temple five times prayer is offered in a day and Raslila is performed at every night.
Other attractions of the fair
The traditional folk song, sung by the Bhils at the fair, encircling the bonfire, makes a special attraction of this festival. Other cultural shows are also performed by the young generations of the clan. Different joy rides, acrobatic feats, animal shows, magic shows, folk dances are the other noteworthy attractions of the fair.