Tarnetar Mela is one of the most popular fairs of Gujarat. It is organized in a village called Tarnetar, situated at a distance of around 75 kilometers from Rajkot. It is an annual three day fair and is celebrated during the months of August-September and is also called the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair. Tarnetar Mela is an important fair for the tribal people of India and is therefore thronged by all the nearby tribes of the region. The major tribes which participate in this fair are Koli, Bharwad, Rabari, Khant, Kanbi, Kathi, and Charan.
There is an exciting story behind the commencement of the fair, which refers to the Mahabharta Era. It is said that the Swayamvar of Princess Draupadi was conducted here. According to the folklore, the Pandava Hero, Arjun, won Draupadi’s hand by showing his skill at archery. This has made the Tarnetar Mela a ‘marriage mart’ or ‘Swayamvar’ for the tribal youth. The young tribal men come to this place to look for suitable brides for themselves. The vibrant fair is the main attraction for the tribal youth.
Men can be seen in traditional colorful attire of dhotis, waistcoats and eye-catching turbans. These men come here to be chosen by the young tribal lasses dressed in customary finery. All the bachelors sit under their respective colorfully embroidered umbrellas. These umbrellas are especially prepared for the occasion by the men themselves. The spirit of festivity is at its peak during the Tarnetar Mela. All the tribal people indulge in various merry making activities, like dancing, music, competitive sports etc.
The colorful site of the fair is just awesome. It is flanked by over 300 stalls, selling food, refreshments, exhibiting embroidery and cattle shows. One can get to see the traditional dance and music of the varied ethnic groups participating in the fair. Tarnetar Mela is held around the Trinetreshwar Temple, dedicated to the Lord Shiva. This temple is very ancient and belongs to the first century. There is a pond here, the water of which is considered as sacred as the water of river Ganges. The reservoir is often termed as Papanashu (the destroyer of sins).