The much-famous Beneshwar Fair organised annually in Rajasthan’s Dungarpur district has not been organised this year, courtesy the policy of appeasement by the Congress government in the desert state.
While it has permitted the organising of Urs fair in Ajmer, it has denied the permission to organise the Beneshwar fair which has been the sacred event for thousands of tribals residing here who at times earn their annual income by setting their shops selling their handmade products to lakhs of tourists and devotees visiting here from Rajasthan as well as neighbouring Gujarat and MP too.
The Baneshwar Fair in Rajasthan's Dungarpur district draws both locals and tourists and hence is a big earning opportunity for tribals.
The Baneshwar Fair was all set to be held from 12th February to 16th February in 2022. However, the state government cancelled it quoting COVID guidelines and much to the surprise of one and all, it lifted all COVID curbs in the state from February 16.
The schools and colleges have been allowed to operate, cinema halls, sport arenas, malls, restaurants etc have been allowed to operate with 100 per cent occupancy. Also, restrictions on the number of wedding guests have been lifted, but permission to the Baneshwar fair has not been granted.
Rajasthan BJP workers questioned the ban and had demanded permission for it but nothing worked out and the fair remained cancelled.
"Beneshwar Dham is the centre of tribal faith. Tribals coming from Banswara, Dungarpur, Udaipur, Pratapgarh and Gujarat are disappointed as the fair has been banned. Many tribals have a ritual to immerse the mortal remains of their family members during this fair.
"Moreover, when permission was granted to pilgrims to visit the shrine of Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer during Urs when Corona was at its peak, why can't the same be given to us?" asked the party workers who later met the collector demanding the lifting of the ban. Banswara BJP District President Govind Singh Rao, along with other officials — Hakru Mayda, Mukesh Rawat, Manohar Patel, Rajesh Katara, Gauravsinh Rao and other BJP leaders — submitted a memorandum to the Collector for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
The workers said that a fair is held every year in Beneshwar. Every year, other communities along with the tribal families, come here to immerse the ashes of their loved ones. In such a situation, permission should be granted to this tribal fair which is held each year on the border of tribal-dominated Banswara and Dungarpur districts.
Many businessmen from tribal communities set up their shops here. This gives income to their families and becomes a means of livelihood too, they added.
Rao said: "We urge the state government to stop playing with this appeasement policy."
The fair in fact has its own religious significance. It starts from Shukla Ekadashi of Magh month as per the Hindu calendar and is the biggest tribal fair of India that draws multitudes of devotees.
The name "Baneshwar" represents Lord Shiva and Shivlinga in the Mahadev Temple that stands near the convergence of the rivers Som, Mahi, and Jhakad. This confluence of rivers is the place where the fair is held.
The fair delight is doubled as there is a Vishnu temple in the proximity. The Beneshwar fair came into existence over 500 years ago when Jankunwari – the daughter-in-law of Mavji constructed a Vishnu Temple. Mavji is believed to be Lord Vishnu’s incarnation. Baneshwar presents a blend of two fairs. One fair is held at the Mahadev Temple and the other at the Vishnu Temple. Both the temples stand opposite to each other.
Hundreds attend the Baneshwar Fair, an important fair in India, taking place in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. This fair is an integrated culture of the place. This fair is organized partly by the state’s tribal community of the Bhils reflecting their customs and traditions, highlighting its religious significance.
The festival goes on for 5 consecutive days and the popularity of this fair is not confined alone to the state of Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat reverberate with equal enthusiasm during this fair.
Beneshwar Temple is mainly famous for housing the revered Swayambhu or self-created Shiv Linga, which is located on the delta formed by the confluence of Som and Mahi rivers. It stands on five feet high stones and is split into five parts. The Vishu temple is located quite close to Beneshwar temple which was constructed in 1793 A.D.