Hot, exotic and oozing with cultural vibrancy, India’s gorgeous state of Rajasthan has always been a haven for travellers. Right from the bustling markets of Jaipur to the pristine sand dunes of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan feels like a slice of history suspended in time; and a very delicious slice at that! In fact, this desert state has so much to offer that often a single trip is barely enough to digest all its delights, which is why Mount Abu’s Winter Festival is such a boon. A three day long celebration held during the last week of December, the Winter Festival is a beautiful potpourri of the very best the state has to offer.
Situated amidst the sun-baked dunes of Rajasthan, Mount Abu is a hill station so picturesque that it’s often referred to as an oasis in the desert. It is, in fact, the only hill-station in the state making it a prime holiday-destination even within Rajasthan. Come winter, a sense of excitement starts buzzing through the state with Mount Abu at the epicentre as folk dancers, singers and performers of every kind start gravitating towards the hill station in preparation for the Winter Festival.
Organized jointly by the municipal board of Mt. Abu and the Rajasthan Tourism Board, the festival kicks off on 29th December with a ceremonial procession to Nakki Lake. Tourists join performers from every corner of the state in a whirlwind celebration consisting of fairs, dances, concerts and poetry events. As if the festival wasn’t diverse enough already, folk artistes from neighbouring states of Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh also join in the fun. Folk dances such as the ghoomar, daph and gair are hot favourites with tourists while others prefer the endless bazaar selling local handicrafts, toys, shoes, bags and much more. Visitors are again spoilt for choice when it comes to food as delicacies catering to every palate flood the streets of Mt. Abu. The Winter Festival also offers a unique blend of sports for those who are so inclined. Kite flying is an obvious favourite while Gilli-Danda (an Indian game played with sticks) always finds a special place in the heart of foreigners. 20 -20 Cricket tournaments are a major attraction for Indian crowds, though others might be lured by the variety of water sports on offer at Nakki Lake. This three day long carnival literally goes out with a bang on the 31st as a dazzling fireworks display marks the end of the event.
Mount Abu’s Winter Festival has definitely worked wonders for tourism in Rajasthan. Speak with tourists lucky enough to witness the Winter Festival and they will regale you with stories of gorgeous costumes, jaw-dropping folk dances and beautiful vistas. But the one thing that stays with them above all is the hospitality of the people of Rajasthan. The beautiful people of this beautiful state leave no stone unturned in making you feel right at home… and what a home it is!
However, founded with the intention to promote tourism in the state, the Winter Festival has achieved far more than just boost footfall, it has managed to bring together a wide variety of people for a simple cultural event. In a country like India where every festival seems to have an underlying religious connotation, Mt. Abu’s Winter Festival stands as a proud celebration of pure cultural assimilation.