Come March, and the Pink City breaks into an exultant celebration of life, a pre-Holi bash which centres around the Elephant. The camel may be the most visible symbol of Rajasthan, but when it comes to Rajput royalty, the elephant wins hands down. Elephants have always been a carrier of royalty in Indian culture and so The Elephant Festival was initiated keeping in mind the tourists coming to the city. So, while Bikaner celebrates the Ship of the Desert, Jaipur makes much of the elephant.
Marked by a range of interesting activities, Jaipur's day-long Elephant Festival is an event not to be missed. Organised every year by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, the Elephant Festival is held at its official venue, Rambagh Polo Ground in Jaipur, and attracts thousands of eager tourists from across India and overseas.
Major Highlights of the Festival
The festival starts with a traditional procession; while musicians play folk tunes and dancers whirl in a flurry of colours, richly caparisoned elephants march along in a parade. This is followed by a 'best decorated elephant' competition, games of elephant polo, elephant races, a special 'elephant decoration' exhibition (see what goes into making these beauties look the way they do!), and a tug-of-war between humans and an elephant. No prizes for guessing who wins.
Elephants, all in elegant attire, loaded with glitter and gold, fascinate the audience with their grand processions and decorated trunks and tusks. The scenes from the royal past are recreated, which is a wonderful sight!
Elephant polo is the most noticeable feature of this festival where, the players wear saffron and red turbans, sit on the elephants, and try to score goals with long sticks and a plastic football. Only female elephants take part in this festival.
The Festival also provides platform for the folk tradition of Rajasthan. The festivities end with performances of folk dances; with a liberal splashing of Holi colours on all and sundry, and a spectacular display of fireworks.