The Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair popularly called the Tarnetar Mela is an exciting and a unique fair held annually at Tarnetar in Saurashtra.
In the first week of Bhadrapad (August-September) Tarnetar is transformed into a whirl of colour and excitement. The Tarnetar fair is one of the most colourful events in the state of Gujarat.
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 Arjuna won the hand of Draupadi in an archery contest. The popular belief associates the village with the swayamvar (marriage) of Draupadi after Arjuna performed the Mastsyavedh , an incredible feat of archery.
Villagers from all over Saurashtra, dressed in their traditional costumes and exquisite jewellery throng Tarnetar in there thousands forthe 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. Like all-important tribal fairs, it 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. There are over 300 stalls selling food, refreshments, exhibiting embroidery and cattle shows.
The tribal youth visit the Tarnetar Mela to find them suitable brides. They are elegantly dressed in colourful dhotis; embroidered jackets and eye-catching turbans come to be chosen by village belles dressed in colourful finery.
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 costumes worn by the people), a time-honoured ritual that is still practised. The temple courtyard resounds with devotional music.
This fair is primarily a marriage mart or Swayamvar for the tribal youth of today who still visit Tarnetar, to find them a suitable bride. The tribal youth elegantly dressed in colourful dhotis, waistcoats and eye-catching turbans come to be chosen by village belles dressed in colourful finery.
The fair is a kind of marriage market for the local tribals - the Kolis, Bharwads and Rabaris who visit Tarnetar to find suitable brides. Tradition holds that if the girl stops to talk to one of the men, it is a sign that she has found the man of her choice.
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 fair is held around the Trinetreshwar Temple dedicated to the three-eyed Lord Shiva, built at the beginning of the century.
Rhythm of Folk
The beauty of this fair is in its impulsiveness 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, men and women, swing and sway in gay abandon to the throbbing rhythm of the ras garba and the hudo dance.
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.
An added attraction of the fair is the lively folk dance performances such as Ras-Garba and Hudo dance and the Rasada, the fascinating folk dance performed by hundreds of women.
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.