- In history. There is also in the Puranas. The practice of choosing one’s own husband was once common in our country.
- Originally this practice was more prevalent in royal families.
- Many claim that it is a part of women’s dignity.
There is no point in going into all those debates. In ancient times, there would be a debate about whether kings should organize self-immolation. But even in today’s digital age, Gujarat’s Tarnetar Mela is a testament to the fact that ancient customs like Swayambhar are rightly observed.
The fair is held every year on a specific date in the month of Bhadra in the village of Taranetar in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The distance from Thangarh in Surendranagar district to the fair ground is only eight kilometers.
Legend has it that this fair started in ancient times. This Swayambara Mela was started following the Swayambara Sabha of Draupadi. Although historians claim that the fair is only 200-250 years old. The fair is held in the precincts of the temple of Trinetrasvara Mahadev in the village of Taranetar. The temple was built in the twentieth century by the Gaikwad kings of Vadodara. The new temple was established after the old one was demolished. Inside the temple there are three lakes. Brahma Kunda, Shiva Kunda and Vishnu Kunda. The fair grounds are located by the side of this tank. The locals believe that these sacred tanks were once associated with the river Ganges. About 50,000 people gather here every year on the occasion of the fair.
The main feature of Tarnetar Mela is Swayambara Sabha. Here the indigenous young women choose their life partners. Indigenous youths appeared at the fair in their traditional attire. They sit under their own colorful umbrellas. Young women are waiting. Meanwhile, the young women also attended the fair in search of a husband. Seeing the youth, they choose the life partner of their choice. Family members of the two talked to each other after liking each other. And fix the wedding day. And many tourists from home and abroad come to this fair to see this ancient tradition of India. People of Koli, Rabari, Varwar, Khant, Kanbi, Kathi, Taran, Harijan and Desh-Rabari species are present.
The fair lasts for about four days. But if you think that only Swayamvara is organized for four days then it is wrong. Although the main attraction here is the Swayambara tradition, many items like clothes, handicrafts, animals, specially designed tribal umbrellas etc. are traded in this fair. This means that it is not very different from the other five fairs in the country. At the fair you will find different types of old clothes from different areas of Gujarat. Signature jewelry with matching. Various cattle including camels are sold in this fair. There are also nagordola, gambling games, tattoo or tattoo shops. Folk artists organizing dance and song festivals. The fair grounds were adorned with colorful decorations. Love, music, a great meeting place of color, this is a fair ground. Many times young women do not find a partner of choice. But don’t think that this results in a lack of romance to match. Whether marriage is right or not, romance goes its own way.
When the fair is busy with dancing, singing, noise, romance, many devotees gather in the temple of Trinetrasvara. They bathed in the inner pool of the temple. Rabari women of Jhalawar performed raharo dance somewhere in the fair. Dancing women again in two parts. Married and unmarried. Married women wearing black skirts or jhimis. The women of Lala Ghagra are unmarried. Usually they organize dance and song festivals in their own family. These unmarried women are also looking for a life partner in the fair. Somewhere the rasa dance appears again. Indigenous women dance to the beat of flutes and drums. A group of hunters came from all over the country to capture various scenes of the fair-temple on camera.
It is very easy to go from Rajkot to Tarnetar village. You can reach there by car or bus. There are various budget hotels and homestays in the village and adjoining areas. It is also quite easy to reach the battle of Kachchh by seeing the fair of Taranetar. However, if you plan to go to the fair, you will see the specific date. Because even though the fair is held in the month of Bhadra, its days change.
So if you plan to visit Gujarat after that, you can come and see the fair of Tarnetar. This fair is a perfect example of unity in India’s diversity.
Photo courtesy: Times of India
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Swayambara practice is still going on in Gujarat’s Tarnetar fair!