Baneshwar Fair — This festival is held in Dungarpur, Rajasthan.
This is a religious festival with simple and traditional rituals. On this occasion tribal from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat join their brethren from Rajasthan to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. The Baneshwar fair is predominantly a tribal fair with more than half of the congregation consisting of Bhils.
The temple of Baneshwar Mahadev remains open from 5.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. during the fair. In the morning, saffron is applied to the Shiva Linga after it is bathed and an aarti of burning incense is waved before it. In the evening, bhabhut (ash) is applied to the Linga and an aarti with a fine-wick lamp is waved. Devotees offer wheat flour, pulses, rice, jaggery, ghee, salt, chillies, coconut and cash.
The Bhils attending Baneshwar Fair sing traditional folk songs in high pitched voices sitting around a bonfire every night. Groups of villagers are also invited to participate in the programme. The fair resounds with the gaiety of songs, folk dances, magic shows, animal shows and acrobatic feats. Adding to the excitement are the joy rides on merry-go-rounds and swings.
The name Baneshwar is derived from the revered Shiva Linga which is kept in the Mahadev temple in Dungarpur. “Baneshwar” means the ’master of the delta’ in the local Vagdi language and this name was given to Shiva Linga.
The Baneshwar fair is held at a small delta formed by the river Som and Mahi in its present form is actually a merger of two fairs: one which used to be held in honour of Baneshwar Mahadev (Lord Shiva) and another fair which started after the construction of the Vishnu temple by Jankunwari, daughter-in-law of Mavji, a highly revered saint considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.