History and Customs
The Baneshwar fair is a tribal fair that takes place during the month of Shivratri in the Hindu Calander. This means that it occurs during February of the Gregorian calendar. The Baneshwar fair takes its name from a Shiva Linga of the same name kept in the Mahadev temple in nearby Dungarpur. The name means ‘master of the delta’ and the fair aptly takes place on the delta of the rivers Som and Mahi, 6 kms from the village of Sabla.
Most of the people who attend the fair are Bhil tribals who journey into Rajasthan from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to join the local Bhils in this celebration. The fair has an old-time carnival atmosphere with animal shows, acrobats, folk performances, magic shows, and groups who perform local folklore in song-form around bonfires every night.
On Magh Shukla Ekdashi, the main day of the fair, the head priest arrives at the fairgrounds from Sabla in a big procession carrying a 16 cm silver statue of the saint Mavji on horseback. People bathe in the river the same time as the statuette is being immersed in the river. The Shiva Linga in the Baneshwat Mahadev temple is bathed in saffron milk and is covered in ash in the evenings. All throughout the festival devotees give up offerings of food, jaggery, ghee, salt, chillies, coconut and cash.
A statuette of Saint Mavji is venerated every year during the fair. Who was Saint Mavji and what can you learn about his life online?
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