This fair is linked with the story of Draupadi’s swayamvar, where the great archer Arjun performed the difficult task of piercing the eye of a rotating fish with an arrow, by only looking at its reflection in the water. Through this feat he won his bride Draupadi. The Tarnetar Fair is initiated with the hoisting of a huge Flag on the dome of the Trinetreshwar Temple. The flag is hoisted every year only by the Mahant of Paliyad, a small village near Tarnetar. This fair is a celebration of ethnic Gujarat’s folk-dance, music, costumes and the arts, centered on young tribal men and women seeking marriage partners. Here the many colorful costumes, glittering ornaments and free-spirited movements of folk dances, all combine to create a memorable scene. Many kinds of folk dances are performed; by far the most popular is the raas, in which dancers hold sticks to clack against those of other dancers. One to two hundred women perform rasadas in a single circle. Traditionally decorated Bullock carts and Horse carts are the major attraction of this traditional and energetic procession. Rabari women perform the famous circular folk dance called rahado. Their matrimonial status is show clearly by their dress; a black zimi (skirt) means she is married. But if a woman is wearing a red zimi, it means she has not yet tied the knot, probably looking for a husband. The likely husbands seeking brides are elegantly dressed in colorful dhotis, artistically designed waistcoats and a head-cloth twisted at an angle, moving about the fairground at Tarnetar with striking there embroidered umbrellas, advertising their bachelorhood. The Tarnetar Mela covers a large part of the Tarnetar village with a huge number of stalls put up to sell beautiful local handicrafts unavailable elsewhere, along with ethnic jewelry, statues of deities and traditional attire with tiny mirrors embroidered into the clothing. There are also merry-go-round rides, photographer’s stalls, magic shows and tattoo artists who attract a large variety of visitors.
The Tarnetar fair is held at the Trineteshwar temple at Tarnetar, holy site locally believed to have been the original course of Ganga. The fair site is 8 km from the town of Thangadh, in Surendranagar District.
The fair is held for three days every year during the Hindu calendar dates of Bhadarva Sud – 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th (during the Gregorian calendar months Aug.-Sept)