Thanks to song, dance, storytelling and puppetry, folklore is alive and well in the state of Rajasthan. As well as being entertaining, these mediums allow for stories to be passed on between generations, and for the region's rich culture to be preserved. If you're lucky enough to find yourself at a Rajasthani folk performance, make sure you take a seat somewhere comfortable and pay your full attention to what you hear and see...You're unlikely to ever experience anything else quite like it.
Unsurprisingly, religion plays a key part in the folklore of Rajasthan. The area is populated by Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, all of whom have their own customs and traditions. Legend has it that many deities, prophets and saints have chosen Rajasthan to be their earthly abode; as a result, a variety of different shrines can be found in every village, each dedicated to a different god or folk hero. Nature also plays a prominent role in the lives of Rajasthanis, and is worshipped accordingly.
Whilst stories based on history and religion are widespread, there is also a fair amount of superstition involved in Rajasthani cultural practice. Customs include placing a knife under the pillow of a pregnant woman to avert the evil eye, rubbing new born babies with wheat flour for posterity and symbolic turban tying to acknowledge a community member's death.
Those looking for a real thrill tend to head to the Bhangarh Fort, which is said to be the most haunted place in India. Legend has it that Guru Balu Nath, who sanctioned the building of the fort, warned that the palace should not be built big enough to overshadow his nearby sacred meditation place. His warning was ignored, the expanding fort cast its shadow over his retreat and he placed a curse over the palace and its surroundings.
Visit Rajasthan and you'll find that these customs and stories (as well as many more) are readily apparent in all aspects of everyday life. Marvel at a didactic puppet show, listen to a love story told in the form of a song, or explore the rich world of textiles, where many a myth, legend or folk tale is portrayed using embroidery or prints.
More on the Rajasthan Series: FASHION OF RAJASTHAN