Rajasthan is a treasure of culture and traditions so this Holi I decided to explore different culture and traditions of Rajasthan and It turned out to be an exhilarating experience, I explored three amazing traditions back to back and the most adventurous and epic was the Jabri Gair in Menar, which takes place in Menar village, 50 km from Udaipur on Jamrabeej which falls on the next day of the ‘Holi Festival’. We started off the journey in a car from Udaipur at around 10:00 pm and reached Menar at around 10:45 pm, the village is just near the national highway 76, you just need to adopt the diversion which comes around 10 km ahead of Bhatewar, there is a board at the diversion which is visible once you turn on the diversion from highway. The village is just 1-1.5 km from the diversion, as we were approaching the village we could hear the sound of the crackers and through narrow streets we reached the place where the celebration was going on and as we reached we were stunned by seeing the atmosphere, there were group of Men dressed in Dhoti, kurta, colorful turban and the most shocking was the Guns, they were carrying guns waving in the air,some had swords in hand, the crackers were bursting and there was smoke all over.After few minutes the group of Men started firing the guns altogether, I had never seen so many guns firing except in the movies. The whole area was packed with audiences, I mounted myself on a public water sink to capture the whole scene, there were group of village men in other four directions who were also firing guns, there were Gunshots all over, there was a little doubt about the cartridges being used in the gun and if those guns could hurt but I had no option except having faith in the village men and the almighty 😉 I was busy shooting the ‘people shooting ‘ and suddenly got stunned by a high intensity explosion and heat towards my right, it was a cannon, and not just cannon but a firing cannon. This was the first time in my life I saw a firing cannon and also the first time ever I shot a shooting cannon with my canon.Standing on the water sink I was using the wall behind me as a hideout to escape the heat and spark from the cannon.There was smoke, gunshots, cannon shots all over and it all looked like a war scene.Watch video at the end.
It’s a 400-year-old tradition in which the Menaria Brahmins which is the major community of the village once defeated a Mughal army on Jamra Beej which was on its way from Chittor to invade Udaipur. Impressed by the valor of the Menaria Brahmins the then Maharana of Mewad Amar singh 1 gifted them a red ‘Jajim’ (carpet), a bankia (war instrument) and a ranbankur dhol(war drum) he also awarded Menar with the stature of 17th umrao. The village men donned as soldiers divided into 5 groups comes from five different ways to a common open area which is named onkareshwar chowk and there they mimic the war rejoicing their victory over the invaders.After the war depiction I hear recitation sound coming from one of the streets as I reached there saw a member from ‘Dholi’ community recited the history of Mewar at a pre-designated place, he had a notebook in hand and was reciting the history in Hindi with a typical accent. There were sewaks(servers) carrying torches lined up on both the side, and it exactly looked like some royal procession, then with drum beats and torch men escorting they again reach the ‘Onkareshwar chowk’ the members from ‘baniya’ community sprinkle ‘Gulal’ on them, every community in the village has a designated task, the nai and ved carries the Mashal(torch), rawats look after the security, Dholi community member recites the history, ‘Baniye'(busines community) sprinkle Gulala(color).After the history recitation.
the procession reached the chowk ‘Gair dance’ is performed, they play the Gair with sword in one hand and stick in other, they were moving the sword in war style during the dance, the synchronization and the precision in the dance was amazing. As the gair dance got over everyone took a seat on the jajim and then the stunt show started, the youngsters did fire and sword stunts which were a treat to watch. The whole celebration lasted until 5 am, and all the village members take part in the celebration. Those village men who are out of the village for work also attend this festival.I felt so great about this tradition which is still preserved by the village generations.The whole festival looked dangerous but was so organized that not a single person was hurt in any way.