Among the most colourful festivals in India, the Gangaur festival in Rajasthan is definitely one. You probably have attended small gangaur melas in your city but this is the one which inspires the rest. It is hugely celebrated in North India (Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh).
It worships and celebrates the purity and austerity of Gauri who is another manifestation of Shiva’s wife Parvati. This festival is celebrated mostly by women. All woman who participate in this festival adorn themselves with jewels and colourful clothing – resembling the image of the goddess Gauri herself. If you haven’t visited this festival you must try it out because of the inherent beauty of the whole process. Here are six reasons why you should be a part of the Gangaur Festival:
6. Reason to Cheer up Right After Holi: Gangaur starts just After
The Gangaur festival starts around the first week of April just after the celebrations of Holi are over. The ritual has it that it starts on the very first day of the month of Chaitra (a month in the Indian calendar) and continues for about 15-16 days straight. The dates now vary according the dates which sometimes overlap, since the Indian and the English calendars do not match each other. It’s a perfect occasion for you to be a part of another festival after Holi.
5. It’s only For Girls And Especially If You are Married
While it’s basically a festival for women – it’s mandatory for a newly wedded girl to observe the fast. The fast is nothing but an occasion where you detain from food for a certain period of time due to religious or other reasons. In this festival, women usually fast from the time the festival commences till the end of it. But, sometimes many of them deter from such rigorous fasting apart from the newly married girls. It is strict rule followed by them where they have to observe this fast for a period stretching sometimes to a maximum of 18 days. Only one meal per day is allowed.
4. Splendid Decorations with Images and Paintings of the Goddess
Since the Gangaur is a very big festival in Rajasthan, the families prepare themselves for it beforehand. Clay idols and images of Isar and Gauri or Parvati are made before the festival begins. Some Rajput families usually keep wooden images of these gods and goddesses and therefore they are given a fresh paint by professionals known as matherans before the festival starts. This ritual is followed by almost every family since it marks the beginning of a new year.
3. Elaborate Mehndi for the Women
Mehndi is a paste made out of myrtle with which women decorate their hands and feet with beautiful designs. During this festival too, the ladies put mehndi on their hands and feet to decorate themselves. The designs made with the help of mehndi range from the Sun and moon to flowers and geometrical shapes.
2. The Traditional Ritual of the Ghudlia: Only for Unmarried Girls
This is a ritual followed by young girls. Ghudlias are actually earthen pots which have a number of holes in them and are lit on the inside with lamp. After 7 days from Holi, unmarried girls go out in the evening with the ghudlias placed atop their heads with the burning lamps, singing songs. This process is continued for 7 days straight and the girls collect presents of cash, ghee, jaggery and oil which they gather and enjoy a feast with it. This is an integral part of the Gangaur festival.
1. The Departure of Gauri which Marks the End of the Festival
The climactic point of the festival reaches with the last three days of the festivities. Images of Gauri and Isar are decked up with finery and the girls and elder women decorate the figures to make them resemble real life images. A procession is held which signifies the departure of Gauri to her husband’s place. In the afternoon the procession is held and the women carry the figures of the goddess on their heads. Water is offered after the first two days and the last day is the one when the figures and idols are immersed in water. After the immersion the women turn their eyes with which the festival ends.