Tarnetar fair is an oldest and unique festival in Saurashtra, because of its religious and pious significance. This year the fair is to be held from 8th to 11th Septmber 2013.
Tarnetar is the corrupt word (Apabhransh in Hindi & Sanskrit) of Trinetreshwar i.e. a God with three eyes- namely lord Shiva- Shankar. This temple of tarnetar is located 65 Kms from Surendranagar District Head Quarter in South-West direction. There is a holy ancient temple believed to be constructed during the mahabharat times by pandavas.
There is also a kund (swimming pool) named “papnashi” cleanser of the sins pilgrims and other tourist before going to the darshan of the temple always take a bath dip in this kund. Its design is different, in the sense that this kund is “U’ shaped and it surrounds the temple from three sides.
Tarnetar fair is organized in the bright half shukla paksha of bhadrpad for three days i.e. 4th to 6th thitis. Normally 7/8 lakh pilgrims, bevellers and tourists gather to gather during the fair if there is good rainfall in Saurashtra. Apart from stalls of various items and eatables there are several giant wheels and merry go rounds; which the village folks do enjoy. Then of course some tattoo makers are there who paint name design and picture on the skins of hands, feet, wrists and even on neck, lips, checks of young boys and girls.
However main attraction of tarnetar is “Raas” Koli, Bharvad, maldhari (cattle breeders) young and old, in their traditional costumes, both bright and multicolored play vigorous “Raas” near open ground of the tarnetar mahadev temple. Shanai and Dhol (Drum) are played by the musician and people go on and on in a circle.
And of course at a little distance from this Raas, there are devotees who are singing Bhajans. These Bhajans are also sung round the clock. Tambura (string instrument) Manjira (cymbals) and Tabla, are played by the Bhajniks. During night time the crowds are larger and one can see groups of people lying on the grounds and relaxing or eating. They may sleep if tired, but normally the forget what fatigue is.
Another outstanding feature of Tarnetar Mela is Umbrella. Its black canopy is embroidered with artistic design in coloured threads with bright “Tikka” round and square shining metal chips stitched, and at times Ganesh, Shesh Naag, Goddess Amba and others are also embroidered. The spokes of the umbrella are tied with fancy colored hand-kerchief. A tall and stout Maladhari carries this “Chhatri” (umbrella) around the fair. While singing some “Dohas” and songs. In this fair these “Chhatriwala” are one of the main attraction.
This entire region is called “ Panchal Pradesh”, which has a direct connection with our religious and historic epic Maha Bharat. As per the popular belief and the legend. The Draupadi Swayamvar was held here near the Trinetreshwar Temple. A toy fish was hung a bamboo stick and Arjun was asked to pierce the fish with his arrow by looking at the image of that fish in the water of kunda. Where other princes had Arjuna had hit the fish and won the hand of Draupadi.
There is another and most popular and powerful belief for organizing Tarnetar fair. It is said that Gangaji is surfacing in this kund on the 5th of bright half of Bhadrapada month of hindu calendar. So to take a dip in the kund is considered to very pious. Hence the fair and festival.
As the time of this fair and artistic exposure spread film and photo artists from all over India and abroad started coming to tarnetar. Then loud speakers, morden media of publicity also came. The tourism department started setting up huts and tents for foreign and Indian tourists. This sophistication has some adverse effect also poor villager are shy of coming and mixing with those jins & T-shirts doing city youth with cola culture. But still the grandeur and importance of Tarnetar is as good as ever.
The Government of Gujarat has started to encourage the young village youth to show their worth and vigour in numerous village games and also artistic imagination and decorating carts, bullock and horses with their zool(artistic cloth cover their body) winner are given prices.
The credit for entire successful management of tarnetar fair goes to Gram panchayat and The District administration both revenue and police are efficiently and economically provides full facility to the visitor and devotee.