Baneshwar fair is a popular tribal fair held in Dungarpur district in Rajasthan state of India. The fair is held in the month of February at Baneshwar, a small delta formed by the river Soma and, 68.4 km from Dungarpur. This fair is a major fair of the tribals. 'Baneshwar' means the ‘master of the delta’ which is derived from the Shiva Linga worshipped in the Mahadev temple in Dungarpur. This is a religious fair with simple and traditional rituals. The tribal of Bhils come from the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and offer prayers to Lord Shiva.
The name 'Baneshwar' is derived from the revered Shivlinga, 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 the Shivlinga. The Baneshwar fair is held at a small delta formed by the river Som and Mahi, from Magh Shukla Ekadashi to Magh Shukla Purnima.
Baneshwar fair in its present form is actually one of two fairs: one which used to be held in 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.
Two disciples of Mavji named Aje and Vaje built the Lakshmi- Narain Temple near the confluence of rivers Som and Mahi. The 'pran-pratishtha' ceremony of the idols was performed on Magh Shukla Ekadashi and since then, the fair is held on this day. The large congregation that gathers here at the time of the fair pays homage to all the deities with equal reverence.
On Magh Shukla Ekadashi, the priest - called the Mathadhish, arrives at the fair site from Sabla, in a huge procession. A 16-cm silver image of Mavji on horseback is also brought here. The river water supposedly becomes holier when the Mathadhish takes a bath. Hence, people bathe along with him in the river. The Bhils consign the ashes of their dead at the confluence of the rivers.
The Baneshwar fair is predominantly a tribal fair with more than half of the congregation consisting of Bhils. They revere Baneshwar Mahadev as well as Mavji. The majority of the gathering is from the Districts of Dungarpur, Udaipur and Banswara.
Worship and Offerings
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 Shivlinga 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.
Prayers are offered five times a day in the temples of Lakshmi -Narayan and Brahma. Brass gongs are struck at the time of 'aarti'. During the fair, 'aarti' of Mathadhish is also performed and Raslila takes place at night in the Lakshmi Narayan Temple. Offerings, similar to those at the Baneshwar Temple, are made at these shrines too.
The Bhils attending Baneshwar Fair sing traditional folk songs in high pitched voices sitting around a bonfire every night. Cultural shows are arranged by youngsters of the clan. 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 large number of shops in the fair provides an opportunity for buying and selling of essential goods and fancy articles.
Celebrated In : Dungarpur, 110 km from Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Deity : Shivalinga
Temple : Mahadev Temple
Time of the festivity : Month of February