Gangaur Fetsival 2016
Saturday 9 April 2016
‘Poojan dyo gangaur, o sa mahne poojan dyo gangaur…’
When these melodious Marwari lyrics are floating in the air, no prize for guessing, the beautiful Marwari women, all adorned, are ready to celebrate the most important and the most anticipated festival of Rajasthan – Gangaur. The vibrant, vivid, richly cultured, princely state of India – Rajasthan celebrates Gangaur in the month of Chaitra, which is the first month of the Hindu calendar or in the month of March-April according to the Gregorian calendar. This 18 days long festival of Rajasthan begins as soon as we bid adieu to the colourful festival of Holi.
Legend behind Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan
‘Gan’ is synonyms to lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ is for his companion/wife Gauri or goddess Parvati. Gauri is the epitome of devotion, love, marital bliss and longevity. It is believed that Gauri comes to her maiden home from her husband’s home and the celebrations begin. Women and girls worship Gauri during these 18 days. They principally pray for their husbands, they also pray for monsoon, sufficient harvesting, marital fidelity, prosperity, well-being and safety of their family members, friends, community, state, and country. Isar (Lord Shiva) comes to take his wife back home. Isar and Gauri depart on the second and third days of Chaitra Shukla.
Rituals of Gangaur Festival
The first and the most important ritual is to take the ash from the remains of Holi fire. Wheat and barley seeds are sowed in it and watered religiously for the following days of the Gangaur festival until germination takes place. A week after, clay idols of Isar and Gauri are prepared by the women amidst the sacred Gangaur songs praising goddess Parvati. Some people of Rajput clan get wooden idols prepared by painters who are known as ‘Matherans’. The married women of Rajasthan worship Gauri by observing a fast throughout the festival days, to be blessed with a long and happy married life. They eat only one meal a day. They also pray for the well-being, health, and wealth of their husbands. It is the time when all the women dress-up to their best, they apply mehandi or henna on their palms, which is considered very auspicious for a married women. For the newly married woman, the first Gangaur is very important and she must follow all the rites and rituals accordingly. Unmarried girls worship Gauri to be blessed with a perfect life-partner just like lord Shiva. In the evening of the seventh day, after the Gangaur festival commences, the unmarried girls carry an earthen pot on their heads with numerous holes on it. This is known as ‘’Gudhlias’. A diya (earthen lamp) is lit inside the pot. The girls then go from one house to another, singing songs of gudhlias and collect cash and other goodies like oil, ghee (butter), sweets and jaggery. This ritual continues for the remaining 10 days. Eventually, the pot is broken and the remains are immersed in the water. Girls feast with what they have collected during those days.
Concluding Ceremony of Gangaur Festival
As the Gangaur festival comes to its closure for the year, it is believed that lord Shiva arrives to take his wife home. A grand procession takes place towards a water body for immersion of beautifully decorated and ornamented idols of Isar and Gauri placed on the heads, then on golden and silver palanquins, accompanied by drummers, decorated elephants, camels and horses with people and children dancing joyously and the Gangaur festival concludes for that year.
Traditional Sweets during Gangaur Festival in Rajasthan
The most awaited Gangaur festival is celebrated with a specially made Rajasthani sweet known as ‘Ghewar’. It is a cake shaped sweet which comes in different varieties, with or without icing of mawa or khoya (thickend milk, dried whole milk). ‘Rabri’, another specially made sweet during Gangaur festival is also lavishly enjoyed by the people of Rajasthan.