India is a land of festivals and festivities and every God or Goddess is welcomed and worshipped with due respect and with much fanfare and fervor.
Gauri Pujan is the festival when Goddess Parvati is worshipped. Though it is like numerous other Hindu festivals that we celebrate, but it has its own specialties too. Gauri Pujan is celebrated on the fourth or the fifth day of the Ganesh Chaturthi. It is mostly celebrated in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh amongst many other places.
According to Hindu beliefs Goddess Gauri is a form of Shakti, the eternal power and thus always blesses her devotees with power and courage.
It is believed that on the third day of the month of Bhadra according to traditional Hindu calendar, Gauri Mata comes to her parental house. The next day she is escorted back to Kailasa, their abode by her son Ganesha. It is a beautiful imagery of a happy family which is created through this puja.
- The Idol’s homecoming
The day before the puja, the idol of Gauri Mata is brought home. There are lots of people who do not bring an idol home and worship a picture of Gauri Mata. Most of the Mahatashtrians bring the Gauri idol on the Ganesh Chaturthi day itself. It is believed that radiant rays come out of the beautiful and pristine Gauri idol and thatcshe blesses the devotees who bring her home to be worshipped.
- The Gauri Puja Vrata Rituals
On the day of the Vrat married women wear new clothes and also dress up all the girls of the family in colorful and gorgeous dresses. Then the sthapana with jalagauri or arishinadagauri is done. This is a symbolic idol of Gauri Mata made of turmeric. Then the Gauri idol is kept in a plate along with wheat or rice on it and kept inside the Mandapa. The mandapa is made of banana stem and mango leaves around the Gauri idol.
The devotees then dress up the Gauri idol which is a visual treat in itself. The idol is decorated with beautiful saris, green bangles, jewelries, mangalsutra , nose pins etc. she is mostly given green bangles as it is believed that married women wear green bangles. Gauri Mata is also given a floral garland to be worn at the back of the head called Veni. Women have Gauridaar or a sacred thread with sixteen knots tied to their wrists. Each of these sixteen knots is worshipped with mantras.
Baagina is an interesting ritual which is followed in the Gauri puja. A Baagina is like a gift pack containing arshina which means turmeric, some black bangles, black beads, some kumkum, a comb, a small mirror, a bale bicchole, a coconut, some dhaniya, a blouse piece, some rice,some toor dal, wheat or jaggery cut in cubes, some green dal and rava. This Baagina is presented in traditional mora s or winnows which are painted in turmeric.at least more than five Baagina s are to be prepared for the puja. One Baagina is offered to the Goddess Gauri and the rest is distributed amongst all the married women.
- Gauri habbada Mangaladravya
Another beautiful aspect of this ritual is that the married woman’s parents and brothers or the ‘tavaru maneyavaru’ send them the Gauri habbada mangaladravya or a kind of gift to the married woman and their family. If they can’t send the same then in lieu of that, they send money to the woman and her in-laws. This is an unusual practice and is believed to bring people closer by exchange of gifts. In the earlier period the newlyweds had to wait till the Gauri Pujan to consummate their marriage.
- Night Long Puja
All the women taking part in the Gauti Pujan or the Mangala gauri vrat wear new saris and traditional jewelries. They also keep awake the entire night of the puja. They get together and sing Mangala gauri songs, or songs praising Gauri. The women who are awake the entire night play various games. In the traditional game of Zhimma, women clap hands, sing songs and tease one another. Phugadi is another game, where after holding hands in a specific position women move round and round in circles and sing songs. It is an unique puja where the male members cannot participate.
- Gauri Visarjan
Gauri Visarjan is done the very next day after the puja. Before the visarjan an aarti is performed and a Prasad of rice mixed with curd and fenugreek leaves is offered to the idol as naivedyam. The Prasad is then distributed amongst devotees. Women observe this vrat for having a good husband or a happy married life.