The soft footfalls of Holi festivals can be heard weeks before the grand fiesta is celebrated with great gusto in Lake City. A couple of days in advance on the occasion of Amalka Ekadsh, rural folk from neighboring areas of Udaipur flock to the religious and historic place Gangoudhara (Gangukund) near the Chhatris, the cremations ground of the royal families of Mewar in Udaipur. The ancient ‘Kund’ is believed to have the presence of the river Ganga. In fact, people start gathering here days in advance. There is a big crowd of devotees at the Rajrajeshwar Shiv Mandir to perform rituals. Young and old are seen enjoying themselves on Chakri ‘jhulas’, eating ‘Chat pakodi’ and the like. They go on a shopping spree as there is a huge variety of items including cosmetics, bangles, and domestic ware on sale in this traditional fair. A special feature of this fair (mela) is the availability of earthen ‘matkas’ that Udaipurites in large numbers buy for their cool water supply in summer. It is also popular called ‘matka mela’ fair where pot makers from outside Udaipur begin to reach weeks in advance.
Udaipur markets start buzzing with activity. For the last couple of years, herbal ‘gulal’’ is having good demand and a fort night the Forest dept. has created a record by selling about 1100 kilos of this items. It is prepared in neighboring tribal areas of Udaipur such as Thamla Ber Devla of Kotda region Dang, Malviya-Merpor, Kodiyat and Chukdia of Udaipur and Jorma of Gogunda with a target of about 50 quintals. The income goes to the Van Suraksha and Prabhand Samiti. Mainly four kinds of ‘gulal’ is made from different material like roses, ‘amaltash’, ‘chukandar’. Tribal women go out in the jungle everyday to collect flowers and their juice is extracted. And after adding it to a rarest flower it is dried again. This material is then ground till they take the form of fine powder. Attractively packed in 200 and 250 gram packets the material is sent to the market. It is in big demand not only in outside places such as Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat. Herbal ‘gula’ is proving very popular with its several advantages. It is eco friendly and does not hurt the skin or the eyes. The clothes are not stained. Its sweet smell and natural colors are added attractions. It has also become a source of income for tribal women who are becoming better aware of protection of forests but a big order has also been received from Australia.
Children and boys can be seen buying different kinds of ‘pitchkaris’ in markets, especially Surajpole, Delhigate and Bapu Bazar. This year also, a big favourite ‘ankwali pichkari’, that has the capacity of 1 to 2 liters of water and can be hung from the waist. So are gun and pump shaped ones. On sale are ones with stickers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, as also those of cartoon characters like Doromon. With these are being bought spray color, capsule color, tube color and ‘gulal’. The prices have gone up this year due to GST.
With the beginning of Holastak a week before Holi, special celebration of Fagoutware, started attracting devotees to the temples of Udaipur. During these eight days that are of special significance for Vaishnavas of Pustimagiya Vaishnavas, the devotes to the temples of religious fervour. Devotees of Udaipur and Gujarat come to the Shrinath Mandir Nathdwara, in large number. There is a lot of rarely devotees in the form of different gods and goddesses dance before the Lord. On this occasion are sung ‘garis’ that are dialogues between the lord and the ‘gopis’. Devotees have the ‘darshan’ of ‘lilas’ of Kamdeo for forty days when he tries to overpower the Lord in various ways. However, two days after Holi, Kamdeo accept his defeat.
Jagdish Mandir is also drawing a large number of devotees who participate enthusiastically in ‘bhajan’ singing and other programmes. According to an old tradition, thousands of villagers of Pherapheri do not work on Ekadash and visit this temple to worship the Lord. In Kalyan Shaktipeeth Udaipur , ‘Maha-aarti’ is performed after decorations the idol with ‘Chandan gulal’ of different colors.
In the main streets of the city can be seen persons of Vagaria community from Marwar and Mewar singing on the beat of the ‘chang’ and asking for ‘shagun’ money.
The whole city begins to vibrate with joyous festive vibes. Parties of singers from Nathdwara Srinath Mandir come to Udaipur to sing ‘rasia’ songs. To sing songs composed by the great ‘bhakti’ poet Ras Khan, singers from Brij also come to Udaipur.