The Elephant Festival is one of the most renowned of all the festivals celebrated in Rajasthan. Elephant is a symbol of royalty and thus is very significant to the royal culture of Rajasthan. The festival is celebrated every year in the month of March at the time of Holi. The other animals to participate in the festival include camels and horses.
A huge procession sees participation of a large number of elephants adorned with beautiful clothes and jewellery including anklets which make a pleasant sound when the animal moves. Interesting patterns are drawn on the skin of the animal to make it appear even more beautiful. The mahouts guide their respective elephant through a huge crowd cheering up for them. It is immensely pleasing to see the animal playing a sport like polo. Some interesting events associated with the festival are:A polo match between elephants.A tug of war where the strongest elephant is made to compete against a group of ten people.Elephant Races.Elephants splashing colours on the visitors.An exhibition called Gaj Shringar exhibition where everything kept is linked to animals including ornaments, paintings, food and other things.
For the first time in many years, the elephant festival was cancelled for two consecutive years, 2013 and 2014, due to protest from the Animal Welfare Board. The animal activists were concerned about the chemical laced colour being thrown on the elephants and feared that the elephants would be harmed in the process. The Rajasthan tourism group, which hosts the festival every year failed to sign up the elephants with the Animal Welfare Board, and provide appropriate documents. As a result of this, the organizers decided to rename it as the “Holi Festival.” The Tourism Department’s decision to cancel comes in the wake of protests by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).