Gangaur is one of the most vivid festivals rejoiced with great enthusiasm and happiness all over the Indian state of Rajasthan. In the word Gangaur, ‘Gan’ is the synonym for Lord Shiva whereas ‘Gaur’ stands for Gauri or Goddess Parvati. But mainly, this festival is held in the honour of Goddess Parvati as she is regarded as the epitome of marital love, strength, courage, power and excellence. During the festivities, married women worship Goddess Parvati for the long life, well being and wealth of their husbands while the girls pray for getting a smart and an understanding life partner. The festival is rejoiced in the month of Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calendar and falls in between March and April, according to Gregorian calendar. It begins on the very first day Chaitra month, the day after Holi and is celebrated for 18 days. Also, it marks the end of winter season and the coming of spring season.
Women and girls observe fast during this festive time and eat only once in a day. Images of Gauri and Isar (Lord Shiva) are made with the clay and decorated very beautifully. On the other hand, in some of the Rajput families, images are made of wood every year before the festival they are painted by the famous painters who are called as ‘Matherans’. The images which are made during this time do not have canopies. Women and girls, during the festival, wear new dresses, adorn themselves with jewellery and make designs on their palms and feet by applying mehandi (henna). On the 7th day evening girls carry ‘ghudilas’, which are earthen pots with many holes inside which a lamp is lit, on their heads. They sing songs of Gangaur and are given gifts in the form of money, ghee, sweets, jaggery, etc. by the elders of the family as a token of love.
This ritual goes on for 10 days and on the last day women and girls break the pots and throw the broken pieces into a well or a tank; the clay idols made by the married women are also immersed in water on the last day of the festival. This procession is headed by a colourful show of elephants, old palanquins, chariots, bullock carts and performance folk artistes. People irrespective of their caste and creed come to observe and to be a part of the procession.
Gangaur is mainly celebrated in the northern states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat. However, the festival is a major event in Rajasthan and is holds great significance for Rajasthani women. Gangaur Teej marks the beginning of the 16-day fasting observed by Rajasthani women. Married as well as unmarried women worship Goddess Parvati on the day and offer Pujas, Aarthis and Prasad in new colourful clothes. A colourful procession with lots of colourful lights and flowers is also made in various parts of the state. Gangaur is considered to be a festival of monsoon and harvest. Gangaur marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
The third day of Chaitra Navaratri is most colourful and traditional, also known as Gauri Tritiya and is known to be a female-centric festival.
History of Gangaur Festival
Parvati or Gauri, the consort of Shiva is a symbol of virtue and devotion and considered a legendary figure for married women. The festival is held in her honour. Gangaur is the most important local festival in Rajasthan and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The common belief associated with the festival is that if unmarried girls observe the rituals of this festival they get a nice life partner of their choice. And if the married women observe the same, she is said to be blessed with a happy married life and long life of their husbands. The celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have a unique charm and attraction.Gangaur Celebrations The celebrations begins almost a fortnight before the main day of the festival. Girls worship the goddess all through the fortnight before the main event day. A group of women from the town hold a procession and carry colorful idols of Gauri. Many people from nearby villages too come to take part in the procession and roam around with them from village to village.
A sense of romance is felt in the atmosphere as the occasion also gives an opportunity to tribal men and women to come in contact with each other, to meet and interact freely; this help them to select partners of their choice and marrying by eloping. It is the unique thing about this festival.
The festival begins from the first day of Chaitra or from the next day of Holi and continues for 18 days. The festival begins with the custom of gathering ashes from the Holi Fire and burying the seeds of barley in it. After it, the seeds are watered everyday awaiting the germination. It is mandatory for a newly-wedded girl to observe the full course of 18 days of the festival and keep fast to ensure her marriage do well. Even unmarried girls fast for the full period of the 18 days and eat only one meal a day.
For 16 days Gangaur is worshipped by unmarried girls , start from gauri teej, with a desire to get a handsome, loving and noble partner. Married women join them on the final and last day. Besides praying for a suitable match the girls pray and ask for blessings for their brothers. The women dress up gorgoeusly as the prayer goes -if you are well dressed while praying you will be granted a well dressed husband… to each her own.
And finally the day of departure comes and Gangaur leaves he mother’s place there is the longing for her return the next year. For 16 days every morning and evening songs are sung some tell a Mahadev Gora(Parvati) story, some express wishes and some depict the fun relation of jija (brother- in- law) and sali where Mahadev or Isarji is the jija and we the worshippers are his salis(sister-in-law).
The Shiva Parvati folk stories, interestingly revolve around basic human tendencies. Shiva and Parvati are divine powers who can change the course of events. Shiva is depicted as handsome but not well dressed, mature, patient, sensable and far sighted person. Whereas Parvati is depicted as a extremely beautiful very impulsive impatient impractical person. Both partners are extremely romantic and loyal. All the wisdom of Shiva is left aside as he actually does exactly what his lady commands. Even though Shiva warns Parvati she always refuses to oblige. And Shiva waits no further and bows to her wishes. Parvati is of course unhappy with the consequences of her decisions and Shiva reminds her of his warnings and Parvati realises her mistake.
Folk Stories of Maa Gauri and Mahadevji :
Gauri goes to her mother’s home and mahadevji goes after her
One day, Goddess Gauri (Parvati) was longing to go to her parent’s home. She went to Mahadevji (Lord Shiva), and asked him to send her to her parent’s home.
Mahadevji asked Gauri if someone had come from her parents house to pick her up. Gaurji said, my younger brother has come to pick me up, and I will go once you permit me to go. Lord Shiva asked her who would do the rituals of preparing food (Kasaar ke ladoo) for her journey, and who would apply Mehndi on her hands ? Gauri said, her younger co-sisters would prepare the ladoos, and her sister-in-law would apply mehndi on her hands.
Gaurji told Mahadevji that she would not go walking, but wanted to go on Shiva’s vehicle Nandi instead. Mahadevji refused, saying that Parvatiji was forgetful in nature, especially when she went to her mothers house. She would forget to feed Nandi. Parvatiji said she would not forget. She promised she would feed Nandi tender paan leaves (nagar bel), and make Nandi rest in the shade of the Banyan tree. Mahadevji permitted Gauriji to take Nandi and go. He also said, I am coming right after you.
Gaurji told Mahadevji that she did not want him to come along with her, as he was a yogi which was not a very pleasant sight, and people would not like it. she would feel ashamed of him. So she did not take him.
Mahadevji decided not to stay back. He decided to follow her. So he went to her in disguise. Mahadevji’s first disguise was as a bindi-waala and chudi-waala, someone who sold bindis and bangles. Gauri was with her friends. When they saw the nice attractive bindis and chudis, she and her friends decided to snatch the bindis and chudis. The bindi and chuddi waala remarked that this was a town where residents come and snatch wares from hawkers, and there is no law and peace in the town.
Mahadevji decided to go back again, this time disguised as a shoe-maker. He brought along shoe designs that seemed out of the world, studded with diamonds and emeralds. The shoes were extremely attractive. When Gaurji saw the shoes, she knew she just had to buy them. Parvatiji asked the shoe maker the price of the shoes. The shoe maker said the shoes were priceless, and she would not be able to afford them. Gauri still insisted. The shoe maker said, that the price of the shoes were having one meal together with the shoe maker.
Gaurji went back to her Mother’s house and prepared food for the shoe maker. She served food and then sat down to have food with the shoe maker. Gauri took one bite of the food. Then, the shoe maker took one morsel of food and ate it. Immediately, he transformed from the shoe maker to the original form of Mahadevji – Lord Shiva, Gauri’s husband.
Godess Gauri was shocked to see him. Mahadevji mocked her “You were ashamed to bring me along as I was in the form of a Yogi. But you are not feeling ashamed to eat food with a shoemaker.” Gauri got annoyed, and told Mahadevji that this is the type of prank he should play on his friends, and not on her.
Pooja Samagri: Idol of gaur, isar, kaniram, rova bai ,sova bai n Malan. Instead of their idol you can also draw a gangaur chart in a chart paper. (Gauri is isarji’s wife and kaniram, rova bai & sova bai are isarji’s siblings)
- Plain white paper Vermicilli,mehndi,kajal,rice,moli,kodi,whole betel nut,a piece of haldi,silver ring,a coin,pot full of water,raw milk,a container to do gangaur puja,flowers,green grass (dub,janwara),comb & gangaur’s geet book.If performing this puja for full period of 18 days then 16 pindiya (8 balls made of holi ashes and 8 of cow dung) are required from the first day and 8 (16 for newly wedded women and unmarried girls) steamed or fried phal made of wheat flour are required on the last day .After doing pooja women have to first eat one of these phals with unsalted butter (Ghee) and sugar. Women cannot even drink a drop of water before performing this puja. Some women also observe fast on the last day of gangaur. While performing the puja start singing the gangaur songs (Geet) from the book.
- Place the gangaur idols at neat and clean place over a wooden platform. Or paste the gangaur chart on a wall where u will perform the puja. And paste one plain white paper near the idol.
- Put “tilak” (vermicilli-kumkum and rice) on your forehead.
- Now take green grass (dub) n take out 7 small sticks from their edge for all the idols respectively. For newly wedded women and unmarried girls this number is 16.
These sticks are used as toothbrush (Datun) for the idols. Take little water with it to each of the idols and touch them to their mouth. While doing this sing
“Datun karlo oh madhavji,datun keka oh madhavji;Datun duba ka madhavji… “
- Also take out some fine and nice dub for doing gangaur puja. And now on keep it in your hand till the puja is done.
- Now put “tilak” (vermicilli-kumkum and rice) on the idol’s forehead.
- Then offer red thread (Moli) and flowers.
- Now offer phals to them.
- Now make 7 small dots each of vermicilli,mehndi and kohl (kajal) at the plain white paper and 16 for unmarried girls and newly wedded women.
- Now mix milk and water in a container and leave kodi,piece of turmeric (haldi),coin,silver ring and betel nut in it.
- Now take some janwara with dub in your both hands and dip them into the container of milk and water and then sprinkle the water which is on the dub and janwara to the idols. Start a gangaur song (gaur aye gangaur mata) while doing this and continue this action till the song comes to an end. Keep them in your hand for kahani.
- Now hear gangaur kahani by taking some dub and janwara in one hand and dipping it into the water and milk and making fine and nice pearls on the upper side of your 2nd hand.
- Once this kahani is finished wipe away all the pearls from your hand with the dub and janwara towards the idol. And at last make bangles on your both hands with this water with the help of dub and janwara and sprinkle some water on your head.
- Now offer these dub and janwara to the idol and place it near to them and take some 4-6 pieces of these dub and janwara and tie it on ur both hand’s bangles and also put some on your hairs.
- Now catch that container and do “El khel” by moving that container and dropping some water from it by accompanying “El khel” song with it. It is believed that the water which is dropped outside goes to the gaur and isar for their bath.
- Now take out half of the phals which you have offered to the idol.
- Here our gangaur puja comes to an end by taking out kodi,turmeric,coin,ring and betel nut from the water and touch them to the idol’s eyes and then to oneself’s.
- The last and the final ritual is to take the container of water and milk mixture with which puja is performed and then drop that in little little amount around oneself as if you are making ghaghra’s flare. It is believed that by doing this gaur mata will always bless with that much flares of ghaghra,happiness and marital bless (Suhagini’s bless).
Rituals of Gangaur Festival
The first important ritual of the colourful festival of Gangaur is the collection of ashes from the Holi fire and burying of wheat and barley seeds in it. These seeds are the religiously watered every day until the germination takes place. The ritual is performed with songs of Isar and Gauri (Shiva and Parvati) and the varying of pots of water on the head.
A week after Holi, women make clay images of Gauri and Isar. The ritual is made colourful and joyous with the traditional folk songs sung in praise of Gauri.
On the evening of the seventh day after Holi, unmarried girls take out a parade with ghudlia and singing songs related to it. Ghudlia is an earthen pot with holes around and a lamp inside. On their way, the girls are gifted small presents like sweets, jaggery, ghee, oil and a little cash. The ritual continues for ten days, upto the conclusion of the Gangaur Festival. On the last day girls break their pots and throw the remains into a well or a tank and enjoy a fest with their little collections.
However, Gangaur Festival celebrations reaches its peak during the last three days of the festival. At this time women take special care to decorate themselves and also the clay images that they had prepared. At an auspicious hour in the afternoon, a procession is taken out to a garden, tank or a well with the images of Isar and Gauri, placed on the heads of married women.
Gangaur aptly reflects the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan and is celebrated with great pomp and show in Bikaner, Jodhpur, Marathwara and Jaisalmer. Gangaur Festival is also observed at some places in Gujarat.
Vrat katha of Gangaur
Reading the vrat katha is mandatory for the devotees to get the positive results of the ritual. Once upon a time, Lord Shiv, along Goddess Parvati and Narad Muni went out to take a small trip. When they reached a nearby forest, the news of their arrival spread like wild fire. All the women of the high class families wanted to offer them delicious food. As the women were busy preparing a gorgeous spread for the Gods and Goddess, the women of the low class came with their offerings. Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati happily ate the food and Goddess sprinkled the “suhagras” on them.
After a certain time, the women of the high classes came with the food they had prepared. They arranged it on the golden and silver platters. This food was also consumed by the deities. When they had finished eating Lord Shiv asked his wide that with what was she going to bless the women as she had already finished every bit of the “suhagras” on blessing the women of lower classes. To this, Goddess Parvati replied that she intended to bless these women with her own blood. Saying so, she scratched the tip of her finger and sprinkled the blood on these women.
Once this was done, Goddess Parvati went to take a bath in the nearby river. After her bath, she stepped on the beach and made a Shivalinga out of sand and worshiped it. She offered the Shivaling with food that she prepared out of sand. All these took a lot of time and when she went back to her husband, he asked the cause of her delay. Goddes Parvati lied to Lord Shiv and said that she met her family on the way. When Lord Shiv asked what she ate, she said that her relatives offered her milk and rice. Upon hearing this, Lord Shiv also wanted to taste the same. In reality Lord Shiv knew that Parvati was not being true. When he said that he too wanted to meet his in-laws, Goddess Parvati started praying to Bholenath (Lord Shiv) to save her face.
As the three reached the banks, they saw a palace and all the relatives of Goddess Parvati waiting for them. The palace and the relatives were nothing but illusion. It was created by Lord Shiva himself. They were received and enjoyed their stay for two days. After this, Goddess Parvati wanted to leave while Lord Shiv wanted to stay for a few days more. When Goddess Parvati pressed to leave, Lord Shiv had to leave along with Narad Muni. While on their journey back home, Lord Shiv realized that he had forgot to bring his garland. Narad Muni was sent to fetch it. When he reached the place, he saw nothing but thick forest and wild beasts roaming around. He saw that the mala was resting on the branch of a tree.
When Narad went back to Lord Shiv, he narrated the entire incident to the god. On hearing this, Lord Shiv said that all this was the “leela” of Goddess Parvati. She felt embarrassed. On seeing this, Narad Muni said that there was nothing to be embarrassed about doing the pooja in secret. He also said that Mata Parvati was the epitome of marital bliss for all women. She is the “adi Shakti” and anyone who does the pooja in secret will be duly be blessed by Lord Shiv. Since that day onward, the popularity of the Gangaur festival started spreading on earth.
Each day all girl’s & women wear new traditional dresses with Mehendi in hands, and assemble at married women home. Then Songs are sung by all women the song is –
Gor gor ganpati, iswar puje parvati,
parvati ka aalaa gila, gor ka sona ka teeka , De Tamka de,
Bala Rani vart karyo, khero khato laadu diyo, laadu le beera ne diyo,
beero mane chunner di, chunner mane gor udai, gor mane suhag diyo…. bhag diyo…
tan man 16, iswar gora, donyo joda, jod jawara, gefu 11,
raani pujae raj ne, me puja suhag ne, rani ko raj tapto jaye, maharo suhag badhto jaye,
idi khidi jaat de, jaat de gujrat de, gujarata ko paani, lele tapka tani, tani pe singhada,
bhade pe pichoda, hari hari dhup le, doob ka dand le, soono ko kachoro le, suraj ji ko kero le, gangaur puj le, mharo bahi, em liyo, sem liyo, sarnari ki sem liyo, charjar ki jalebi liyo, ghi ka chata, ghewar liyo, imli ko chor liyo, naye odh liyo, gangaur puj liyo.
The idols of Gauri and Isar are dressed in new attires and bejeweled with sparkling ornaments especially made for the occasion. The beautifully decorated statues looks like they are brought to life by these girls and married women. The idols of Isar and Gauri placed on the heads of married women are taken in a procession in the afternoon, to a garden, bawdi or johad or well. Vidaai songs are sung as Gauri departs to her husband’s house. The idol of Gauri was offered water by the ladies present in the procession, they then comes back. On the final day, the procession came to an end with the Visarjaan of all the idols in the waters of a tank or a well. The women bid farewell to Gauri and return back towards their home with teary eyes and in this way Gangaur Festival comes to an end.
The whole procedure is accompanied by singing gangaur songs (geet). Here are the sequences of the gangaur songs.
- Badiwala badi khol – Dub lane ka geet
- Doobaa mala gobaliya kun kadasiji raajj…
- Geroji phool gulab ko
- O kun aye gora daal marora to
- Gaur Aye Gangaur Mata Khol aye Kiwadi
- Uth Uth aye mhari gaur mata
- Datun karlo o madhavji…
- Uncho Chavaro Chaukunto jal
- Jiyo me Hindo mandyo
- Gaur gaur gomati – Gangaur puja song
- Isarji toh – Sithana
- Gangaur ki kahani
- El khel nadi beva – After doing gangaur puja
- Gangaur Aarti
Main Attraction of Gangaur Festival
The last three days of the festival are the most happening as the Gauri’s are dressed in beautiful cloths and ornaments and the women who have kept their fast dress their dolls as per their will. A procession is taken out during the afternoons where the idols are placed on the top of their head and songs of Gauri and Isar are sung by those women. On the last date, the idols and the pots are then flown into the water and the fast is completed by the women where the festival also comes to an end.