This fair is held every year on the 4th, 5th and 6th day of the Shukla Paksha (Aug-Sept) in Tarnetar (a village near the industrial town of Thangadli) in Surendranagar district in the region of Saurashtra. Also known as the Trinetreshwer Mahadev Fair, this three-day festival is held at the 14th century Temple of Shiva (Destroyer in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer), or Trinetreshwer (Three-Eyed God) who is also popularly known as Tarnetar.
Built in a traditional style on the banks of a rivulet, this impressive marble temple has a kund (reservoir) in which the temple is reflected. According to popular belief, this was the very place where Draupadi had her swayamvara (a ceremony where an Indian princess chooses a husband from amongst a number of eligible suitors invited to her father's court).
Arjuna was the great archer who performed the 'Matsyavedh' and won her hand. The matsyavedh required him to climb up on a pole erected in the centre of the kund, balance himself on the two scales, and pierce the eye of the rotating fish on the top of the pole with an arrow by looking at its reflection in the water. The Tarnetar fair in Saurashtra represents a unique synthesis of folk music, folk art and colour. It highlights the true folk nature of the fair with folk dances like the Rasada (a Gujarati folk dance), performed by hundreds of women moving gracefully in a single circle to the accompaniment of four drums and jodja pava (double flutes). People are mesmerised by the number of bhajan mandalis (group of devotees singing songs in praise of the Lord) singing bhajans and kirtans (devotional songs) to the tune of folk instruments such as khartals, pakhawaj, dhol and tabla (a range of Indian percussion instruments).
Ras Garba Style of Dance Folk dances like the energetic and playful Ras Garba (where men and women dance in two circles moving in the clockwise and counter-clockwise directions with dandiyas, or sticks, in their hands) and the Hudo Dance (performed by the shepherd community where the dancers clap in a rhythmic manner while duplicating the movements of two sheep ramming their heads) are key draws.
The fair has a total local flavour to it, with food stalls, a cattle show, competitive sports and exhibitions of embroidery. The most distinctive feature is the famous Tarnetar Chhatri (umbrella) embroidered by the bachelors to attract the attention of unmarried girls. These are surely a treat for the eyes with their extensive mirror work, embroidery and delicate lacework. This fair, a major tourist attraction in Gujarat, symbolises the rich heritage of Saurashtra and draws thousands of visitors from various parts of the country and abroad. Gujarat Tourism makes arrangements from Ahmedabad and Rajkot to visit Tarnetar during this fair. They also provide tented accommodation at the fair site for the visitors.