The Elephant Festival is an inimitable event held annually in Jaipur.Groomed flawlessly, rows of elephants do a catwalk before an enthralled audience liked the best fashion models to make this festival an amazing one. The elephants move with poise in the pageant and finally participate in the spring festival of Holi. It is festival time with elephants, typically celebrated one day before Holi, the Indian festival of colors.
Staged at Chaugan Stadium, Jaipur, elephants put up a variety of programs and the arena is brought alive with musicians and dancers. The crowd, which includes sizable presences of foreign and Indian tourist, electrifies the atmosphere. The festival starts with an impressive procession of the majestic animals lovingly painted and tastefully attired with glittering ornaments and embroidered velvets.
A ceremonial procession is recreated with caparisoned elephants, lancers on horses, chariots, camels, cannons and palanquins.
All of the participants are female elephants. The mahouts (elephant keepers) take great care to decorate the elephants painting their trunks, foreheads, and feet with floral motifs and adorning them from tusk to tail with interesting trinkets. Elephants wear anklets and make music as they walk.
Finally, some lucky tourists are invited to mount the elephants and play Holi. Participants dance with great vigour and the excitement rises to a crescendo
The Rajput kings accorded extraordinary importance to the elephants not only during war but also during the royal festivities-a must at royal pageant. Nishan-ka-hathi, the flag bearer, led the procession. The king always mounted a caparisoned elephant. Special hunting programs and elephant fights were organized to entertain the royal guests. Jaipur was a favourite spot with the important personalities of the British Raj and the Maharajas always arranged for their guests of honour elephant rides up to the Amber palace. Even today, the mahouts take tourists up to the Amber Palace on elephant back like shuttle taxis.
Rajasthan Tourism revitalized the ritual by including the Elephant Festival in the cultural calendar. The present-day pageant, originated only a decade ago, was worked out especially with the tourist in mind. Every year on Holi, the old stadium at Jaipur, the Chaugan (originally planned for elephants), makes the setting for a stunning fete.