My daughter’s best friend Raji is from Ahmedabad in the Gujarat region of eastern India. Near here, in the small hamlet of Tarnetar, about 75 kilometres from Rajkot, you’ll find the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair, one of the region’s most important annual attractions. Popularly called the Tarnetar Mela and held at the spectacular 14th century marble Temple of Shiva, beautifully costumed villagers celebrate with music and folk dancing. But the young bachelors of the area are the biggest draw, dressing in full regalia and signifying that they’re available.
This three-day festival is basically an important matchmaking fair where the tribal youths appear elegantly dressed in their best dhotis (drape for menfolk), waistcoats, holding large colourful umbrellas embroidered by them over a period of one year, and which reveal their bachelor status.
The most distinctive feature is the famous Tarnetar Chhatri (umbrella) embroidered by the bachelors to attract the attention of unmarried girls. These umbrellas feature extensive mirror work, embroidery and delicate lacework.
This Tarnetar Fair, a major tourist attraction in Gujarat, symbolises the rich heritage of Saurashtra and draws thousands of visitors from various parts of the country and abroad.