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Bikaner Culture

Bikaner, the erstwhile princely state of the Rathore dynasty and the wealthy owner of the prolific historical and cultural heritage has withheld its majestic royal character all these decades. This aureate civic ornamented with luxurious and sumptuous havelis, palaces and forts and wrapped with the august reddish yellow veil fabricated by the ancient Rajputana edifices still yields a luminous and resplendent glow. Bedecked with intricately carved Jharokas and Jalis, the mansions, temples and the historical Junagarh Fort of Bikaner still wear its characteristic Rajasthani pizzazz. Minutely sculpted Jali screens of Bikaner are chiseled out of red sandstone imported from the neighboring village of Dulmera.
The Camel Country
Bikaner, bequeathed with the laurel ‘the camel country’ boasts of its camels deemed best for riding in the whole world. Moreover, Bikaner is also the proud home to the world’s largest camel research and breeding farm. Administered by the central government, the ‘National Research Center on Camel’ has successfully discovered the genetic discrepancy between various breeds of camels and varieties of camels are bred and sold by the center. At the cattle fairs of Bikaner and Jaisalmer you will witness hordes of camels decorated with colors and mirrors being purchased and sold. Moreover, Bikaner is also reckoned far and wide for its various novelty articles such as shoes, rugs, belts, bags, wallets, miniature paintings, chairs etc made from camel leather.
Bikaneri Bhujia and Other Food Specialties
Bikaner has earned name and fame on the world front for its Bikaneri Bhujia and other mouthwatering Namkeen. Bikaneri Bhujia is a crisp and spicy yellow colored snack prepared from besan or moth dal, spices and oil. Bhujia making has been a cottage industry of Bikaner since years and it has been providing employment to more than 2.5 million people of Bikaner and surrounding villages. Bikaner has also acquired the geographical indication patent of the name ‘Bikaneri Bhujia’ in the year 2010. Apart from the Bhujia Namkeen, Bikaner is also famous for its typical Rajasthani cuisines including Gatta Ki Sabzi, Mangodi, Ker Sangri Ki Sabzi, Dal Bati Churma, Khata, Pakodi, Kheechdi, Bajra and Corn Roti, Papad, other Namkeen and sweets like Rasgulla, Rabdi, Ghevar, Fini, Rasmalai, Cham Cham, Gaundpak, Raj Bhog, Laapsi, Thandai etc.
Art and Craft
The culture of Bikaner is particularly illustrated with its affluent artistic and creative heritage marked with various exclusive art forms such as Pata art, Usta art, Chadhwa art, carpet weaving, Meenakari and its wool production. Pata is a huge wooden couch of square shape especially constructed for sitting and socializing. Usta art is a characteristic art form of Naqqashi and Manoti art practiced by the traditional artisans of Bikaner. It deals with creating miniature paintings on various objects including camel skin using water and oil colors and gold. The embossed gold patterns are called Manoti while the unembossed gold design is called Naqqashi.

The thriving carpet weaving industry of Bikaner earns a lot of revenue to the local Bikaneri craftsmen. Woven in camel hair these colorful and warm carpets locally known as ‘durries’ comprise the major export item of Rajasthan. Meenakari is yet another ancient art of Bikaner that involves decorating the jewellery items using shiny and precious stones. The markets of Bikaner bursting with an assortment of novelty articles viz. camel leather products, Mojari, Rangi dupatta, Cotton fabrics with Sanganeri prints, Kundan work, carpets, Nokha quilts, durries, cushion covers, beaded and sequined gorbandhs, paintings, wooden antiques, marble handicrafts, silver animal figures, ethnic furniture, lacquer bangles, Rajasthani silver jewellery, decorated swords, sweet boxes, etc. mesmerize the domestic and international tourists to no limit.
Folk Music
Bikaner boasts of its ethnic heritage of folk music which demonstrates the special traits of melodious recitations of various poems. ‘Taalbandi’, also known as ‘Dangal’ is the unique and immensely popular folk music of Bikaner which is usually performed by the Jogi and Bhopa communities. The Jogis of Bikaner are acclaimed for singing the ballads of Gopi Chand, Bhartihari, Shivji-ka-byawala and Nihalde Sultan while the Bhopas, also known as ‘singing priests’ wear a peculiar costume and sing the sagas of the great Rajpur rulers and ancient Bikaneri saints. Some other communities associated with Bikaneri folk music include Langas, Dhadhies, Manganiyarv and Mirasis.
Folk Dances
One more jewel in the casket of Bikaner Culture is its diverse folk dance forms. The women of Bikaner generally perform Ghumar, Bhav, Saluda and Mataki dances while the men folk perform Ger, Tandava, Patta and Pisach dances. The most noteworthy and fantastic dance form performed at Bikaner is the extraordinary ‘Fire Dance’ wherein the Jasnathis of Bikaner renowned for possessing Tantric powers dance on the flaming ground prepared of wood and charcoal. The Jasnathis jump on to the fire to the tunes of the drum beats and carry out the dangerous fire dance in a trance like state. And the most astounding fact is that, they do not get any burns or blisters. Mostly seen on the winter nights, the fire dance of Bikaner is linked with devotional and religious beliefs of the native Rajput tribes.
Rammat is the traditional folk drama of Bikaner which incorporates the free expressions of various feelings of joy, grief, love, hatred etc through its own narrative styles and methods of presentation. Dated back to early nineteenth century Rammat has been a favorite form of entertainment over the years. Performed at the time of Holi Festival, Rammat presents the ancient legends of Amarsingh Rathore and Dhola Marwaani. The play starts at midnight and continues till dawn. It concludes with a prayer offered to the Goddess.

Bikaner Fairs and Festivals

International Camel Festival
International Camel Festival celebrated for two days in the month of January is a carnival organized by the Tourism Department of Rajasthan as a tribute to the ‘Ship of Desert’ i.e. camel. Held at Ladera Dunes which is stationed approximately 25 kilometers away from Bikaner, this large scale festival of Bikaner acknowledges the importance and significance of camel in the life of Rajasthani people. Coupled with folk songs, dance and music this festival is particularly remarked for its enchanting camel parades, camel races, camel dances and other camel acrobats. The celebration commences with the grand procession of beautifully decorated camels that passes in front of the Junagarh Fort and heads towards the Ladera Dunes. The first day of the festival is marked with various contests like best breed, best decoration and jewellery, best fur cutting design on the body of camels and so on. On the second day of the fair camel races and camel dances are performed. The amazing foot movements of the well trained camels cast a delightful spell on the minds of the spectators. The vivid and vibrant Camel Festival of Bikaner offers the unbelievable opportunity to observe the camels at their best. Thousands of tourists from every corner of the globe visit Bikaner every year and enjoy the multi-colored extravaganza of cultural ingenuity. A worth mentioning fact about the Camel Festival is that tea and sweets prepared from the camel’s milk are made available to the visitors at this place.
Karni Mata Fair
The Goddess Karni Mata enshrined in the temple located at Deshnoke and worshipped as the incarnation of Goddess Durga is the official deity of the royal families of Jodhpur and Bikaner. This temple widely renowned for its sacred rats celebrates its annual Karni Mata Fair twice a year. The first and the greater fair of Karni Mata is celebrated in the month of March and April during the Navratras from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi. Again during the Navratra festival in the month of September or October from Ashwin Shukla Ekam to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi the second Karni Mata Mela is held. At the time of both these fairs thousands of pilgrims from every corner of the country arrive at the temple to seek the blessings of the divine Goddess. This Goddess is believed to be the wish fulfilling deity and devotees tend to offer silver or gold at the Karni Mata Temple as a sign of gratitude as their wishes are fulfilled.
Gangaur Fair
Gangaur Fair celebrated in every part of the state of Rajasthan involves the worship of Goddess Gauri performed by the women folk. The term Gangaur refers to Lord Shiva (Gang) and His consort Goddess Parvati (Gaur). Gangaur Fair is a celebration of spring season, harvest and marital bliss. At the time of the Gangaur Fair celebrated for 18 days in the month of March or April unmarried women worship Gauri to be blessed with a good husband while the married women appeal to the Goddess for their happy marriage and the welfare, health and long life of their husbands. The womenfolk decorate their hands and feet with mehendi, put a lamp burning for 18 days inside an earthen pot with many holes and observe fast. The festival concludes with the ceremonial departure of Gauri when the idols of the Goddess are immersed in the water tanks or wells.
Kapil Muni Fair
Kapil Muni Fair celebrated on the auspicious occasion of Kartik Poornima and organized on the banks of a sacred lake located at Kolayat (Kapilayatan) about 55 kilometers away from Bikaner is the largest fair of Bikaner District. A temple dedicated to Kapil Muni is nested on the banks of this lake at the Kapil Muni Ghat (one of the 52 ghats) which enshrines a marble statue of the holy sage. At the time of the fair all the ghats of this blessed lake are crowded with the devotees who come here to take a dip into the sin cleansing waters of this sanctified lake. Venerated as a pilgrimage destination, Kolayat is the place where Maharshi Kapil had performed severe penance for the well being of human kind. It is said that if you spend one night at Kolayat you get the Punya of spending 10 years at any other pilgrim place. At the time of the Kapil Muni Fair, a cattle fair is also held here when camels, horses, buffaloes and other cattle are sold.
Punarasar Fair
Punarasar Fair is celebrated at the Punarasar Village of Bikaner in the honor of Lord Hanuman on the occasions of Sarad Purnima & Bhaadava twice a year. At the time of this sacred Mela, Hindu devotees from Bikaner and surrounding regions arrive at Punarasar and present many offerings and pay homage at the feet of Lord Punarasar. As per the prevalent practice, the devotees who approach towards Punarasar are served with food and refreshment on their way by the locals. As this fair is held in high esteem by the natives, you will see long queues in front of the Punarasar Temple for the darshana of Lord Hanuman.
Kodamdesar Mela
Kodamdesar Mela dedicated to Lord Bhairoon is celebrated in a small village named Kodamdesar located just 20 kilometers away from Bikaner. The remarkable feature of this temple is that is doesn’t have a roof that can cover the idol of the presiding deity of the temple; Lord Bhairoon. This deity is particularly worshipped by the Rajasthani casts like Chura and Surdashani Purohits.
Siyana Bhairoon Mela
Siyana Bhairoon Mela also dedicated to Lord Bhairoon is celebrated in Siyana Village by Ojha, Chhangani, Bhadani and Derasri Casts.
Akkha Teej
Akkha Teej or the Akshay Tritiya Festival commemorates the foundation day of Bikaner. Every year on this occasion people from various social statuses gather together and enjoy kite flying. This tradition of flying the kites is known as ‘Chanda’ here. On this day a special feast of Khichra and Imlani is enjoyed.
Paryushan is one of the major festivals of Jains which is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. At this time of the year Jain temples are marvelously decorated, various religious ceremonies are performed and fasts are observed.
Kartik Poornima
Also pompously celebrated by the Jain community of Bikaner, this festival marks the grand processions of religious paintings, palkhis of Jain Teerthankaras and musical bands. Local Bhajana Mandalis perform bhajanas with unequalled devotion and excitement on this occasion.