There wouldn't be a better time to travel to Rajasthan than during festival time. The Elephant Festival of Jaipur is a unique event held annually in the capital of the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Held during Holi, the festival of colors, to herald the advent of Spring, the Jaipur Chaugan or polo field is brought alive with elephants, dancers, musicians and onlookers from all the globe. Groomed to perfection, glittering in gold, row upon row of elephants catwalk before an enthralled audience. The elephants move gracefully in procession, run races, play the regal game of polo.
The echoing sound of the bankiya (trumpet) fills the atmosphere. A ceremonial procession is recreated with caparisoned elephants, lancers on horses, chariots, camels, cannons, and palanquins. The large beast is the center of attraction in the many races and beauty pageants.
Strangely, most of the participants are female elephants. The mahouts (elephant keepers) take great care to decorate the elephants - painting their trunks, foreheads and feet with floral motifs and adorning them from tusk to tail with interesting trinkets. The mahouts were employed in the Phil Khana, the department of elephant in the royal administration. They played an important role until the princely state was incorporated into the Union and the department because redundant. They, however, have continued their association with the elephants.
The game of polo forms the highlight of the Elephant Festival of Jaipur. Dressed in saffron and red turbans, the teams try to score goals with long sticks and a plastic football. Finally, the tourists are invited to mount the elephants and play Holi. Participants dance with great vigor-the excitement rising to a crescendo.
The Elephant Festival is the specialty of the state of Rajasthan. Like the Desert Festival of Jaisalmer, the Elephant Festival of Jaipur has become a major draw for the tourists during their travel and tour. Given the importance of the elephant in the socio-cultural milieu of the state of Rajasthan, tourists can rest assured that they are in for some great Indian festivities and fun in Jaipur.