Baneshwar Fair, the largest tribal fair is generally held at Beneshwar during the months of January& February. This year, the festival was held starting from Feb 21st till Feb 25th. Baneshwar Fair is a 5 days event that commences from Shukla ekadeshi of Magh month, on the word of the Hindu calendar. This is the exclusive and major tribal fair of the nation which creates a center of attraction among several devotees. Once a year, this fair conducted in Dungarpur region in Rajasthan. The name Baneshwar is derived from the sacred Shiva Linga placed in the Shiv temple at Dungarpur. The word ‘Baneshwar’ means “Master of Delta’ in the neighborhood language (Vagdi). Baneshwar is located almost 24 kms afar Aspur, which is in the Dungarpur area.
Unification of 2 fairs:
The Baneshwar fair is truly an amalgamation of 2 fairs. The first fair is held to pay honors to the Deity Shiva, called as “Baneshwar Mahadev”. The second fair is conducted to commemorate the conclusion of the edifice of the Vishnu temple by the Jankunwar, the daughter-in-law of the Saint Mavji.
Tribal and Baneshwar Fair:
The Tribal conquered regions of Dungarpur & Banswara stroke the boundaries of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. This region is known as “Vagad” in which flow the 3 rivers Mahi, Jakham and Som. All 3 rivers meet in the vicinity of Navatapara village of the Aspur tehsil. At this destination there is a triangular desert island. In Vagad language, a desert island is known as ‘Ben’. A primeval shrine of lord Shiva is placed here and it is known as Beneshwar temple- the aristocrat of the Ben. When a saint named Mavji performed his tapasya at this place, he gave the people the significance of loyalty to deity Krishna and sermonize the main beliefs of love for civilization and worldwide brotherhood. The tribal thought him to be the personification of lord Vishnu. Even in our day, the tribal have great respect for Saint Mavji.
Merging of Holy Rivers:
The convergence of 3 rivers has as much significance as that of the shrines here. The ‘Sangam’ is well thought out to be the way to Moksha, all sorts of blessings and wellbeing. Over the centuries, the tribal assemble here to worship. They feel blessed after they take a sacred dip in the consecrated waters of the rivers. Tribal think that it is a larger ‘Tirtha’ than even the Pushkar, Kashi and Prayag. Therefore, Beneshwar is well thought-out to be the “Pushkar of Vagad” and the revels as “Kumbha of vanvasis”.
Once a year, the festival is held from Magh Ekadasha to the Magh Purnima. The natural panorama here is worth observing. The Beneshwar fair reaches its peak on the day of Purnima. Over 10 lakh people take a holy dip in these sacred waters on this day. People from all religions and castes do this holy act. People arrive at this place not only from the far-flung areas of Rajasthan but also from the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. It is one of the largest pilgrimages where lakhs of people arrive to receive ‘Poonya’ by taking a holy dip. Devotees try to pay back the liability of their ancestors by submerging their ashes in this location.
Legend behind the Beneshwar fair:
There are several temples in the island. The Shiva temple was constructed by Askaran, the former monarch of Dungarpur state in the year 1510 (Vikram Samvat). Mavji was the foremost mahant of Beneshwar. Mavji was born in Audichya Brahman family and is well thought-out to be an personification of Deity Vishnu by people who live in Vagad. Janak Kunwari, the daughter-in-law of Mavji constructed a Krishna shrine here in the year 1750. Brahma temple was also constructed in the year 1677. In keeping with the Skanda purana, Raja Bali performed Tapayasa at his place and Lord Vaman placed his 3rd step here. It is assumed that the deep canyon here originated by his foot. It is known as Abudarra, where the tribal dip the ashes of their ancestors, get their heads shaved off and provide food to their group of people. The ashes of men are placed in white and those of the women are placed in the red cloth. On the occasion of Beneshwar fair, they are dispatched to water.
Beneshwar Fair is not just a huge fair of Vagad area but is also well known throughout the state of Rajasthan. An assortment of Rajasthani civilization, culture and religious conviction can be observed in the fair.