The songs of the Desert
The desert comes alive every December to the sound of music, the beats of dance, the colours of nature and the aromas of spices. This is an apt description for the Rann Utsav, or the Rann of Kutch festival.
What began in 2006 as an effort to promote the Rann of Kutch as a tourism spot, the Rann Utsav has today turned into a much awaited event of the year. At the epicentre of the Rann Utsav is Dhordo, the entry point into the Rann of Kutch.
The colours of the desert
The beauty of the Rann, as one enters it, is inspiring. The area is full of migratory birds which come from as far as Siberia and Europe to nest in the Rann, right through October to February. This is a treat for ornithologists and tourists alike.
The culture of the desert
The government sets up a ‘Tent City’ in Dhordo, which is made up of luxury tents for the visitors to the utsav. This also becomes the central point for all the activity, the musical performances, the dance recitals, the food courts and many other activities.
Fabrics and garments adorned with local embroidery techniques such as Suf, Khareek, Batik, Ajakh make for great gifts or keepsakes. The local style silver ornaments, carved wooden trinkets and hand painted artefacts are distinct and unique just like Kutch itself.
The activities in the desert
Take a trip on the white sands on a camel, shop for local handicrafts from the villagers who throng the makeshift market with their wares, pickup outfits embroidered with native designs and motifs and taste the street food available. If this is not enough, then take ride across the sand dunes in a ATV, take in the view of the Rann up from the sky in a parasail, relax in a spa or commune with the almighty as the sun rises, there is something for everyone in the Rann Utsav.
The stories of the desert
But the best way to take in the Rann of Kutch is on a full moon night. The white sands seem to turn a little whiter (If that is possible), the air becomes cooler and nature seems to echo the gaiety of the night. In the midst of these settings, campfires are lit among the dunes and folk artists being the night alive with song dance and stories of time gone by. This is an experience difficult to put in words and only to be soaked in with the night.
The Rann Utsav is a time to learn more about a land which is often mistaken to be barren. But in reality, the desert has its own colours which come alive during the Rann of Kutch Festival.