Home to some of the most prestigious and powerful royal dynasties of India, Rajasthan is a land rich in culture and traditions. The legacy of the royalties blended with the ethnicity of folk communities, the state assumes an overwhelming character of artistry and aesthetics. And for years now, Rajasthan has been celebrating such artistic heritage through myriad festivals and events, attracting thousands of people from around the country, as well as from the rest of the world to come and experience the treasures of the desert state. One of the biggest examples of such a display is the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) that is held in Jaipur every year.
How to travel
RIFF is held annually in Jodhpur, which makes it a convenient location for visitors to travel. Since the city is well-connected to all major towns and cities in India, you can easily fly or take a train from nearby places. Once you reach, you can book an affordable and reliable taxi service in Jodhpur and make your way for the venue.
About the festival
The RIFF started about a decade ago with the idea of bringing together Rajasthan’s finest in art, music, and more. By now, it has become the biggest cultural milieu and a platform to showcase folk music, dance, art installations, paintings, and even literary work. Every year, on the full moon day in autumn, or Sharad Purnima, the courtyards of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, come alive with lights, sounds, and colors of all kinds, through vivid paintings, rhythmic and soulful music, and the most expressive dance movements that you can ever imagine!
The festival was inaugurated in 2007, under the initiative of HH Maharaja Gaj Singh, who is also a former MP and the High Commissioner of India, in association with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and Jaipur Virasat Foundation. Within 12 years, the festival also achieved support and partnership of UNESCO and is now declared as “People’s Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development”, promoting local artists and their talent and putting Rajasthan’s culture on a global map.
The best part about the festival is that, while it is predominantly about Rajasthan and its culture, the stage is not restricted to local art. Each year, Mehrangarh Fort sees more than 350 artists from all over the country as well as from international locations, who come to showcase their talent and present their work to the global audience. If there are traditional instruments like sarangi, morchang, gungaroo, khartal, or dholak, then there are also international guitarists, bassists, drummers, flutists, and beatboxing artists, combining each other’s work and presenting a fantastic fusion of the east and the west. Along with this, you will also find local folk groups and musicians performing Qawwali, Sufi, Indian classical, musical narratives, traditional folk dances like ghoomar, Kathputli (Puppet) and Kalbelia (Sapera or Snake Charmer), among other performing arts.
If you thought you have seen the best of Rajasthan’s shades, then this festival will make you reconsider your experience. When you land at Mehrangarh Fort, you will be bedazzled at the spectacle of bright lights, multi-chromatic costumes of the performers and a symphony that can linger in your memories forever. The entire premise of the fort palace is illuminated in a million lights and lamps. The structure sits on a rocky cliff overlooking the rest of the city and becomes the star of the evening (or few evenings for that matter). The warm, golden glow against the azure hue of the Blue City does a color play that one can only find in paintings.
As the artists and performers enthrall you with their performances and feet-tapping compositions with the beats of the dhols and vibration of the sarangis, it wraps the otherwise tranquil Thar Desert in high spirits and makes you go in a trance. And in no time, you might just find yourself swaying to the groove of the night.
The dates of the festival vary every year and are defined by the Hindu moon calendar. This year, the Rajasthan International Folk Festival is scheduled to be held from October 10 to 14 and is all set to showcase artists like Sumitra Devi, ‘Nani’ Noam Vazana, Muzsikas, Votia, Rajasthani Brass, Valeri Tolstov, and many more.
This edition will also showcase performances like Young Langa musicians, Kachhi Ghodi, Rajasthani Circus, and TehraaTali, Agni Bhawai, among regular routines.
Here’s the brief event schedule for 2019-
10th October – 9 am to 2 pm and, 8:30 pm to 10 pm.
11th October – 5:30 am to 7:30 am and 10 am to 5 pm and, 8:30 pm to midnight.
12th October – 5:30 am to 7:30 am and 10 am to 5 pm and, 8:30 pm to midnight.