Gangaur or Mewar festival is performed in the honor of Mother Gauri. In the word Gangaur ‘Gan is a synonym for lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ or ‘Gauri’ for Goddess Parvati (the consort of Lord Shiva).
WHEN IS GANGAUR CELEBRATED?
In Rajasthan, Gangaur festival’s spirited celebration gets underway every year during the Hindu month of Chaitra (March – April) in honor of Gauri, the goddess of marital bliss and happiness. Like Holi this festival also marks the end of winter and onset of spring. Mists fade away and the sun shines bright through clear blue sky.It is a time to rejoice and celebrate.
WHY IS GANGAUR CELEBRATED?
Gangaur is an extremely important local festival of Rajasthan. Married women worship Gauri(a symbol of virtue and fidelity) on this day to seek her blessings for the success of their married life and unmarried girls worship Gauri for being blessed with good husband. It is celebrated by every women with great enthusiasm and devotion for Gauri(wife of Lord Shiva). This festival symbolizes the union between Shiva and his wife Parvati. During the festival, ladies decorate their palms and fingers with henna (Mehendi).
HOW IS GANGAUR CELEBRATED?
Girls dress up in their finest clothes and adorn themselves with jewelry and pray for a spouse of their choice, while married women do the same for the happiness and long life of their husbands. Women gather to make clay images of Gauri and Isar (Lord Shiva) and adorn them beautifully.
Women and girls observe fast during this festive time and eat only once in a day.On the evening of the 7th day after Holi, unmarried girls carry Ghudlias on their heads (Ghudlias are earthen pots with numerous holes all around and a lamp lit inside them) and go around singing the songs of Gangaur.
On their way, they collect small presents of cash, sweets, jaggery, ghee, oil etc. This ritual continues for 10 days and on the conclusion of Gangaur Festival girls break their pots and throw the debris into a well or a tank and enjoy a feast with the collections made by the elders of the family.The clay idols made by the married women are also immersed in water on the last day of the festival.
Although celebrated throughout Rajasthan with great enthusiasm, the celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have their own charm and attraction.This festival is also celebrated with great pomp and show in Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nathdwara and Jaisalmer.
Girls worship Ma Gauri throughout the preceding fortnight. Colorful images of Gauri, beautifully dressed and bejeweled are taken out in procession accompanied by the town band. Women balance brass pitchers on their heads and the lake adds to the gaiety of Udaipur celebrations.
A boat procession in Gangaur boat takes place at Lake Pichola, Udaipur. Thousands of people from the countryside come to take part in the procession of Gangaur. The tribal men and women have an opportunity to meet and interact freely and during this time, they select partners and marry by eloping. An unusual, romantic custom, which is sanctioned by the community.
GAURI’S DEPATURE :
The festival reaches its climax during the last three days. The images of Gauri and Isar are dressed in new garments especially made for the occasion. At an auspicious hour in the afternoon, a procession is taken out to a tank or a well with the images of Isar (Lord Shiva) and Gauri, placed on the heads of married women.
Songs are sung about departure of Gauri to her husband’s house. The procession concludes by submerging images in the waters of a tank or a well.The women bid farewell to Gauri and turn their steps homewards with tears in their eyes and the Gangaur festival comes to an end.