Cold is nipped in the air; bonfires are warming up the ambience; camps are illuminated in the dark; revelers are spending out nights under the starry sky; tribal folks are dressed in colorful motley attires; men are playing folk music joyously; women are madly dancing on the sand; camels are sitting peacefully in rows; the spectators are all smiles.
Which Indian festival comes to your mind the moment you meditate on this picture? Of course, it is the Rann Utsav or the Kutch Festival of Gujarat. The Rann of Kutch is a vast stretch of salty sand in the Thar Desert running through the Kutch district of Gujarat and the Sindh Province of Pakistan. Most of the area is desolate though there is habitation of the Kutchi tribes.
The Rann of Kutch seems as dull as dodo in the other times of the year except the month of December. It springs into life and becomes a land of beauty during the Rann Utsav in December. Dhordo Village in the Kutch district is the venue of the Gujarat festival which runs for as many as 45 days. How colorful and beautiful a look the desert wears during the festivity can be experienced only in person.
The Utsav of Rann is not just a wonderful picture but a cultural affair that never ceases to spellbind the senses of visitors from the world over. It is a manifestation of Gujarat’s creative and cultural best. Over 400 tents of varying sizes and colors make a kaleidoscopic picture in the backdrop of the sandy white landscape that runs into the horizon. Spending nights in the tents under the moonlit sky is a thrill that words fall short of describing.
You might have read or heard the phrase “Rangeelo Gujarat”. The Kutch festival is the time to see the embodiments of delectable hues which the local craftsmen concretize and capture in embroidered textiles through the magic of their needle work and mirror work. Gujarat prides itself on the beauty and creativity of the Kutch embroidery. The waves of colors run in parallel with the waves of sand dunes on the Rann during the festivity.
With folk music and dance performances on the balmy sand, the Rann Mahotsav is a pool of joy to plunge into. The local artistes fill the air with rhythms of their folk arts – music and dance – on the festive evenings. The traditional dance of the ethnically dressed Gujarati belles is more wonderful than a beautiful dream. You may find it difficult to resist your taping feet from matching with theirs.
Besides splendors of the sand and sights of Gujarat’s ethnicity, Kutch offers tours into the wilderness where Indian wild ass and desert birds are seen. At a short drive from the venue of the festival is Mandvi Beach where sunrise and sunset are ethereal manifestations of nature. The Palace of Mandvi is another marvelous catch there. Visit Narayan Sarovar, Koteshwar and Dholavira while in Kutch during the Rann festival.
The Rann Utsav is scheduled to commence on December 14 this year. You may get to know Gujarati life and culture from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies – Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and Ram-Leela. Watching it live while sitting on the sand is a much more pleasurable experience than watching it on the television screen while relaxing on the couch in a corner of home.
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