Tuesday 10 January 2012

The fire dance at the Ladhera Camel Festival

Last evening i travelled 60 kms to Ladhera, a small village that is hosting the camel festival. There were camel races, traditional games, camel decoration competitions, and some other activities lined up. I, as usual, started late and reached late and missed almost everything except the cultural program that was also about to end. However, i still came back happy.

Here's why:

I got to catch the most amazing dance performance i have seen to date. The Jasnathi men of Bikaner perform the fire dance. The mood was sombre, quite unlike anything i have seen in Rajasthani culture before. A fire is lit on a stage with charcoal and wood. Men attired in white dhoti-kurta and yellow turbans walk / dance around the fire to a strangely sombre music of cymbals. They jump, clap and suddenly one of them will walk on to the fire and stand on it or sit on it. Not just for a split second either. They will also reverentially walk up to another seated man who will give them a glowing ember that they will eat and then spew embers out of their mouth. The men appear to be in a trance-like state through out. Finally, they kick the fire around and the dance ends.

Phew! Very strange and totally worth a 120 km drive. Of course, we also played on the sand, kicking and throwing it around like 6-year olds. And also took a ride on a camel cart that was super fun. And ended the evening with a dinner at a Dhaba.

(That's the 4 of us who went to LCF - Mohit, Prerna, Pooja and Me)

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