India, a nation renowned for its myriad of religious festivals, celebrates Gangaur with deep reverence and joy. This festival is a tribute to Goddess Gauri, an embodiment of Goddess Parvati and the beloved consort of Lord Shiva. Known also as Gauri Tritiya, Gangaur is a prominent festival in Rajasthan.
It sees married women engaging in worship and rituals to pray for their husbands’ longevity and marital happiness. Unmarried women also partake in the festivities, seeking Goddess Gauri’s blessings for a desirable spouse. Observing fasts, reciting the Gangaur katha, and following the traditional puja procedures are integral to this celebration.
Cities like Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and others in Rajasthan are known for their elaborate Gangaur festivities. Additionally, Rajasthani communities in other states, including West Bengal and Gujarat, celebrate Gangaur with equal enthusiasm.
The name ‘Gangaur’ combines ‘Gana’, a name of Lord Shiva, with ‘Gauri’, honoring the Goddess central to this festival. Though primarily focused on Goddess Gauri, the festival also involves worshipping Lord Shiva, underscoring the theme of marital harmony and bliss. Celebrated in the spring months of March and April, Gangaur also symbolizes the prayers for a bountiful harvest, expressing gratitude to the Divine Mother for her blessings.
Gangaur 2024: Gangaur Date, Tithi, Timing
The Gangaur festival is celebrated over a period of 18 days, which commences on the first day of Chaitra, which is the next day after the Holi festival.
Gangaur Puja On Thursday, April 11, 2024
Tritiya Tithi Begins – 05:32 PM on Apr 10, 2024
Tritiya Tithi Ends – 03:03 PM on Apr 11, 2024
The Tale Behind Gangaur Festival
Gangaur festival is rooted in the reverence of Goddess Gauri, known for her virtues of purity and asceticism. It is believed that through her unwavering devotion and intense meditation, Gauri won Lord Shiva’s affection and love. Various versions of the Gangaur vrat katha (fasting story) enrich the festival’s lore.
One popular narrative recounts a visit by Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, and Narad Muni to Earth. During their journey, they entered a forest where the local women, upon learning of their divine guests, prepared sumptuous meals for them. The first group of women, belonging to the lower caste, presented their offerings and worshipped the divine trio. Goddess Parvati, pleased with their devotion, blessed these women by sprinkling “Suhagras” on them.
Later, upper-caste women arrived with their offerings. After enjoying the meal, Lord Shiva noticed that Parvati had used all her Suhagras on the first group. When he inquired about how she would bless the second group, Parvati responded by blessing them with her own blood, symbolically scratching her finger and sprinkling it upon the women.
Another version of the story tells of Goddess Parvati visiting her parental home during Gangaur. As she prepared to return to Lord Shiva’s abode, he himself arrived to escort her back. This event, marked by a splendid farewell from her family, is commemorated through the Gangaur festival, symbolizing Parvati’s journey back to her husband, Lord Shiva.
How To Celebrate Gangaur Festival?
The Gangaur festival, a symbol of devotion and fervor, is celebrated primarily by women across Rajasthan and other parts of India. It involves wearing brightly colored traditional attire and adorning hands and feet with intricate Mehendi designs, a practice known as Sinjara in Rajasthan.
Throughout the 18-day Gangaur festival, women observe a strict fast, eating only once a day. This fast is particularly crucial for newlywed women in Rajasthan. An essential aspect of the festival is listening to or reciting the Gangaur pooja katha, which plays a key role in the rituals.
The festival commences the day after Holi, with the collection of ashes from the Holika Dahan. These ashes are placed in earthen pots, or Kundas, where wheat and barley seeds are sown and nurtured over the festival period as a key ritual.
Women engage in singing Gangaur geet, traditional folk songs honoring Maa Gauri, while performing the festival rituals. In Rajasthan, a distinct practice involves women skillfully balancing decorated pots of water on their heads.
The Gangaur puja includes worshipping beautifully crafted clay idols of Isar (Lord Shiva) and Gauri. In some Rajput families, these idols are wooden and repainted annually by specialized painters known as “Matherans”.
A unique tradition involves unmarried women carrying Ghudlias, ornately decorated earthen pots with lit lamps inside, on their heads from the seventh day after Holi. During this procession, they receive gifts from elders and passersby. This ritual culminates on the festival’s last day with the breaking and discarding of these pots into water bodies.
The festival reaches its zenith in the last three days, with both married and unmarried women adorning the idols with new clothes and jewelry. The final day sees a grand procession with women carrying these idols, celebrating Maa Gauri’s return to her husband’s home. The idols are then immersed in water bodies, marking the end of the festivities.
For home celebrations, both Lord Shiva and Goddess Gauri are worshipped for marital bliss and husband’s wellbeing. Devotees set up an altar, often on a wooden platform, and decorate it with haldi, chandan, and kesar. A kalash (pot) with water, betel leaves, and a coconut is placed on this platform. The ashes from Holika Dahan are shaped into balls and kept alongside the idols for daily worship with offerings like turmeric, vermilion, and other traditional items. Seeds of wheat and barley are also sown in a mix of these ashes and mud. Throughout the festival, daily rituals are performed, including singing Gangaur songs and reciting mantras.
On the final day, the idols are ceremoniously immersed in a water body, symbolizing the deity’s return to her marital home. This ritual signifies the culmination of the Gangaur puja.
Gangaur Festival in Rajasthan: A Kaleidoscope of Traditions and Celebrations
The Gangaur festival in Rajasthan is a vibrant tapestry of unique rituals and traditions, each city adding its own flavor to the festivities. This festival not only draws locals but also captivates tourists worldwide with its diverse special events, whether in Jaipur, Udaipur, or other cities.
In Rajasthan, the Gangaur Mela is a highlight, transforming major cities into bustling hubs of family entertainment and social gatherings. This time is considered auspicious for matchmaking, making these fairs a popular venue for families with eligible young adults to meet.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is particularly renowned for its exuberant Gangaur celebrations. On the final day, a procession of women dressed in vibrant attire, carrying Goddess Gauri’s idols, winds through the city. Starting from the Zanani-Deodhi of the City Palace, it traverses through Tripolia Bazaar, Chhoti Chaupar, Gangauri Bazaar, and Chaugan stadium, finally reaching Talkatora. This procession, accompanied by traditional Gangaur songs and Rajasthani folk dances, is a feast for the senses. It features decorated palanquins, colorfully adorned elephants, bullock carts, and chariots, adding to the festival’s splendor.
Rajasthani cuisine, especially during Gangaur, is a treat for food enthusiasts. The famous Rajasthani sweet, Ghewar, becomes a festival staple, enjoyed by both locals and visitors. In Udaipur, the Gangaur festival coincides with the Mewar festival and features the picturesque Gangaur Ghat on Lake Pichola.
Overall, the Gangaur festival in Rajasthan is a delightful fusion of devotion, cultural rituals, joyous celebrations, delicious food, and bright decorations. Women, adorned in their traditional best, partake in the festivities, which are marked by socializing, joy, and a deep sense of communal spirit.
In conclusion, the Gangaur festival in Rajasthan stands as a majestic testament to India’s rich cultural tapestry. This festival is not just a religious observance; it is a vibrant celebration of life, love, and community. The unique customs and rituals, the colorful processions, and the communal gatherings bring together people from all walks of life, creating a mosaic of cultural unity and joyous celebration.
Whether it’s through the rhythmic steps of traditional dances, the melodious tunes of Gangaur songs, or the shared enjoyment of festive delicacies like Ghewar, Gangaur binds the community in a spirit of reverence and jubilation. As these traditions are passed down through generations, they continue to enrich the cultural heritage of Rajasthan, making Gangaur a timeless festival that resonates with the hearts of many, far beyond the borders of its origin.