The Tarnetar Mela is one of the popular religious festivals of India, organized in the month of August/September every year. The site of this Mela is the Trineteshwar temple, situated in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Tarnetar, a small sleepy village in Chotalia Taluka of Surendranagar district in Gujarat, comes alive with vibrant colours of celebration each year during the Bhadrapat season (August-September) with thousands of bharwads, rabaris (shepherds); kolis (labourers); charans (bards); kanbi (farmers); kathir, kath and other communities descending upon the 14th century Trinetreshwar (three-eyed) Madhav (Shiv temple) of the village, the site of age old mela. The three km area around the temple will once again witness the customary sea of humanity on September 10, 11 and 12, keeping the antiquated custom alive. The festival is celebrated as a commemoration of the wedding of India’s legendary hero, Arjuna and Draupadi, at the Trineteshwar Temple at Saurashtra. Arjuna performed the Mastsyavedh, a supreme feat of archery, and won the “Swayamwar”. After which his marriage to Draupadi was celebrated with immense merriment. Besides this, the temple itself is regarded as a sacred ‘kund’ (reservoir) known as ‘Papanshu’ (the destroyer of sins). Devotees believe that a dip in the holy waters of this reservoir holds as much significance as the dips in the holy waters of Ganges.
The Saurashtra Tarnetar Mela also serves as a kind of ‘marriage promotional’ Mela for the tribal youths of Gujarat. On this day people from all over Saurashtra come to the Mela, dressed up in colorful finery. Tribal youths belonging to the Kolis, Bharwads or Rabaris, all come to the Mela to find a bride for them. This is the reason they dress up in attires of colorful dhotis, embroidered jackets and eye catching turbans and colorfully embroidered umbrellas. The bachelor distinguishes themselves with Tarnetra Chhatirs (umbrellas) that are adorned with elaborate embroidery and mirror works. By tradition if a girl stops by and starts to have conversation with any of the young boy, it usually means that she is interested to marry the person.
Besides all these, the fair also has numerous other attractions too. There are vivacious folk songs and dances like garba, ras, hudo, etc that are simply enchanting. While most notable is the Rasada, a fascinating folk dance, which is performed in a single circle by hundreds of women moving in gracefully to the beats of drums and tune of the flutes. Rural handicrafts are also exhibited during the Mela. Crowd pulling entertainments like cattle shows and competitive sports are held during the Tarnetra Mela of Saurashtra.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.
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.
Getting there and Around
By Air –
The Nearest airport is in Rajkot and the major domestic airlines run flights between Rajkot and Mumbai. Indian Airlines has four flights a week to Mumbai while Jet and Sahara have daily flights.
By Rail –
Nearest Railway station is Surendranagar.Trains from Mumbai and Delhi run regularly to Surendranagar.
By Road –
Nearby main town is Surendranagar. All major cities and towns of Gujarat are well connected with Surendranagar by S.T.Buses.From Surendranagar S.T.Buses and local transportation is available to reach Surendranagar,Then – Tarnetar.
The Tourism Department of Gujarat arranges tented accommodation at the site of the Fair. A few well-decorated mud huts with modern amenities are also made available.
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