Shekhawati Festival: Bringing alive Rajasthan's culture

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Nawalgarh, Feb 17 (UNI) There could be no better way to welcome the spring than shedding the old lingering image and embracing new things with renewed vigour and the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan leads by setting an example.

Around this time every year, the quiescent and sleepy hinterland, untouched with modernity and hustle-bustle of urban life, is abuzz with an assortment of acvitities putting on display the vast and decades-old archaic culture and rich tradition of the region and the state.

The 13th Shekhawati festival, to conclude today, once again filled the air with fun and frolic,with folk music, folk dances, rural sports and fireworks reverbrating in the otherwise calm and composed region.

The exquisite and breathtaking 5000 havelis thrown open for public viewing remained the cynosure of every tourist's eyes. The frescoes dotting the walls caught the fancy of local vistors and foreigners alike. Efforts are on to encourage this art for which Shekhawati is famous for.

Besides, the event is a paradise for food lovers, giving them ample varieties of Marwari cuisine to binge on and bringing alive the regions's colourful tradition of hospitality. The food served here is prepared with organic products from Moraka farms, the highlight of the four-day event.

Entrancing Sufi music underneath the star-lit sky added colour to the festival.

Participation of women in the festival is noteworthy. Mehndi, Mandana and Bandhej competitions introduced for the purpose a few years ago have hit the bulls eye and the number of women participants is growing every year.

The festival is jointly organised by the M R Morarka - GDC Rural Research Foundation and the state Department of tourism, district administration of Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu and aims at promoting rural tourism and introducing new economic opportunities for the village folk.

''Shekhawati is fast becoming a rural tourism destination. The Morarka Foundation is the main driving force behind this festival.

It has pioneered integrated rural development, organic farming and conservation of heritage since 1993. It has been identified in promoting tourism in this area and ceating employment opportunities,'' said Rajendra Sharma, the foundation's trustee.

Tourists also have a chance to visit organic farms and soak themselves in the rural style of living far from the heady metropolis life.

''The festival will be a memorable experience for tourists,'' Mr Sharma said.

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