Text by Hardika Dayalani | Photos by Ritayan Mukherjee
Every year in the month of September, Gujarat’s Tarnetar village gears up for a much-awaited three day-long fair. This fair, however, is like no other — it’s a marriage mart, with families matchmaking, and women and men looking for prospective partners at the carnival. This year, the Tarnetar Fair was held from 1 to 4 September.
It’s said to be the most important event held in the region of Saurashtra, which is where the village is located. Thousands of people from Koli, Rabari, Bharwad, Kunbi, Khant, Kathi, Charan, and Harijan communities visit the fair in the Bhadarva month of the Hindu lunar calendar.
The festival pays homage to the ‘three-eyed lord’ or Triniteshwar Mahadev, whose temple is the focal point of the festival. The fair celebrates Gujarat’s local crafts, besides commemorating Draupadi’s swayamvara, or the ancient Indian practice, in which women of marriageable age would choose a partner from among a group of suitors.
Youngsters dressed in colourful clothes put their best foot forward to attract potential spouses. Men are seen strutting around carrying vibrant umbrellas — a trademark of the Tarnetar Fair. Unmarried women wear red ghagras and pair them with richly embroidered cholis.
The fair, however, even caters to the ones not looking to partake in the matchmaking business, by hosting folk music and dance performances, horse races, among several other such activities.