The auto driver refuses to take us to the Hawa Mahal. “Udhar, Tripolia Gate Ke Paas bahut beed hogi, aaj Teej festival hai na,” he says , while another one who stops by nods his head in agreement and continues on his way. The roads they say will be closed on account of Teej Festival Jaipur and the crowds will throng the gates. More autos pass me by and they all refuse to take me to the pink old city. Finally, a young auto driver agrees and as I sit inside, I realize he has no clue where Hawa Mahal is, let alone what Teej Festival Rajasthan is all about. Several posters advertise the Teej and the procession as we get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Finally, after seeking directions from several passers-by, we arrive at the main entrance of Hawa Mahal only to realize that this is not the usual façade that stares at me from photographs and magazines.
Hawa Mahal is teeming with foreigners who seem to be waiting for the procession to begin. I look out of the many arches and see the dark clouds surrounding the city, announcing the impending rain. After all, Teej Festival Rajasthan is celebrated in the monsoons. As we step outside to photograph the façade, the rain tumbles down, drenching us to the bone. A local shopkeeper shows us a small pathway that leads to a flight of steps that takes us to his shop. He senses my disinterest but offers to let me photograph the entire façade of Hawa Mahal from the balcony.
I ask him about the Teej festival Jaipur and he warns me about the crowds. I learn that it is associated with Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva and it celebrates their reunion. Goddess Parvati is called the Teej Mata and the festival starts with a huge convoy of elephants, camels, horses while the deity herself is taken out on the procession in an ornate palanquin.
I head to the Tripolia Gate and find a group of foreigners with cameras in hand. I soon join them to find a group of folk dancers posing for them. The crowd gathers as the dancers take turns to enthrall them. They swirl and twirl and the whole road comes alive in vivid colours. An elephant stands at the gate and is soon followed by a herd and the crowd waves out.
The bands follow and the drum beats echo. More elephants join in and the band reaches a frenzied beat. Camels and horses are in tow as they arrive from the Tripolia gate and gently take a turn, posing for the crowds. For a moment even I am lost in the pageantry and celebrations of Teej Festival Jaipur.
Even the skies seem to have cleared, although the sun has set. The evening has just started for the people of Jaipur who are celebrating. More women and children throng the crowds as several locals look out from the balcony of their homes and shops. Finally the deity arrives and the locals bow their heads in reverence and throw coins .I am told the Teej festival Rajasthan lasts for a couple of days across the state. Celebrated largely by women who pray to the Goddess for a happy married life, Teej is often referred to as a festival of swings. Although it is celebrated all across Rajasthan and parts of North India, in Jaipur, the pomp and splendour leave you spellbound. As I walk along the old town, I can hear the drum beats as the spectacle continues through the streets of old Jaipur.
Teej Festival Rajasthan is celebrated with so much fanfare especially in rural areas as well however the pageant here is spectacular as well. Have you seen Teej Festival Jaipur?