Gangaur is one of the most celebrated festivals of Rajasthan and few parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The most prominent celebrations are seen in Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Nathdwara. This festival is about honoring the Hindu goddess called Gauri, a manifestation of Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati who represents the important social concepts of purity and austerity. This festival celebrates the much valued concept of the Saubhagya, which means marital bliss.
The name is derived from Gana, the name of Lord Shiva, and Gaur, which stands for Gauri or Parvati and hence the name ‘Gangaur’.
Gangaur Festival celebrates:
coming of spring
When does the Gangaur Festival take place?
This grand festival is held in March and April. Usually it starts on the first day of the month of Chaitra, the day after Holi, and continues for the next 18 days.
Legends behind the Gangaur Festival
The festival is named referring to the marital relationship of Lord Shiva (Gana) and his wife Gauri (Gaur). Gauri epitomizes marital ecstasy and thus is extensively worshiped for her devotion towards her husband. As the myth goes, Parvati returned to her parental home on the day of the Gangaur to bless and wish her loved ones. Lord Shiva accompanied her throughout her journey.
Unmarried girls sing traditional numbers and carry Ghudlias (perforated earthen pots with lamps fitted inside them on their heads while people pay donations to them. This is to commemorate the victory of Rao Santhal, the king of Jodhpur over the cruel conqueror Mir Ghudley Khan.
As the legend goes, in 1548 A.D., Ghudley Khan brutally took away 140 young women who were celebrating the festival of Gangaur. The brave king’s gallantry and chivalry is marked by the burning lamps.
Customs and Traditions of the Gangaur Festival
Young girls worship Goddess Gauri in anticipation of getting a good husband. Married women do so for the welfare, healthiness and longevity of their spouse and a blissful married life.
The customs and rituals of the festival are:
Both married and unmarried women create designs in their hands and feet with mehendi (myrtle paste). The seventh day following Holi, young women carry lamps kept inside the pots on their heads and sing songs of ghudlia.
b. Images of Isar and Gauri:
Images and clay models of Isar (Lord Shiva) and Gauri are kept in every household of Rajasthan. In many of the royal families, permanent wooden images, are painted as well by Matherans, a community of artists.
c. The ritual of keeping fast:
Married women keep a fast for 18 long days and the unmarried ones only take one meal per day for these days during March-April. This is a popular custom in Rajasthan for securing God’s blessings for a happy married life.
d. Gauri’s Departure:
A grand procession is released on the third last day of the festival when it reaches its climax. Images of Gangaur and Isar are adorned; young women dressed in beautiful gowns participate in the procession singing folk songs of Gauri’s departure to her husband’s abode. After two days of the procession, on the third day, the images of Gauri and Isar are finally immersed in water. Women bid farewell to their daughter Gauri and the weeklong festival of Gangaur comes to an end.
Gangaur celebration in Jaipur:
Jaipur (capital city of Rajasthan) is famous all over the world for its celebration of Gangaur. As part of this festival, the people eat and share a special sweet dish called Ghewar among friends and family. Ghewar or Ghever is made of ghee, almonds, wheat flour. This sweet is mainly prepared during festive occasions.
Cultural Importance of the Gangaur Festival
Gangaur festival reflects the rich cultural tradition of Rajasthan and Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Young girls dressed in dazzling Ghagra Cholis (locally made long skirt with blouse) and perform on folk numbers.
This is not only is a visual wonder but also is rated high in terms of artistic excellence. Moreover the ghagra cholis and heavy jewelry set examples of fine pieces of art works that portray the unique flavor of Rajasthan’s culture and heritage. The Gangaur of Jaipur (capital city of Rajasthan) is famous all over the world.
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