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The Indian religious festival dedicated to Goddess Gauri is known as the Gangaur festival. Goddess Gauri is the avatar of Goddess Parvati. She is the consort of Lord Shiva. Celebrated mainly in the state of Rajasthan by married women, this festival brings together the married women to pray for the long life of their husbands and also for conjugal bliss. The unmarried women also participate in it but to be bestowed with the blessings of Goddess Gauri to get a husband of their compatibility.
This festival is also celebrated in states like Gujarat, Kolkata where people from Rajasthan had migrated. It is celebrated over a period of 18 days right after the festival of Holi gets over. In the year 2021, Gangaur Vrat observes on Saturday, 27th of March.
The festival of Gangaur starts following the day of Holi. Therefore, it’s a mandate to collect the ashes from the Holika Dahan. Then, wheat and Berley are planted in earthen pots with the ash in them and watered for germination.
The women don traditional attires in bright colors and get Mehendi on their palms with varied designs. Not only this but also women fast having only one meal during the entire period of celebration. It is a must for newly married women to observe the fast.
One of the most beautiful rituals is when the women sing in praise of Goddess Gauri or Parvati. Clay idols of Isar and Parvati are kept in the house and worshipped each morning.
On the last day, both married and unmarried women dress in vibrant colored clothes and come out of their houses with the idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Gauri and partake in a procession singing songs in praise of the Gods and dancing to the beat of drums, trumpets, etc.
On a tour to earth, Shiva, Parvati, and Narad Muni arrived at a forest so beautiful that they were mesmerized by the beauty of it. Knowing about their arrival, the women there prepared delicious meals to serve to their divine guests. The first to come with the food were the women of the lower caste, impressed by what they had prepared, Shiva, Parvati, and Narad Muni indulged in the food with great delight. Parvati was so charmed that she blessed the women with ‘suhagras’
Then came the women of the upper caste with the food they had prepared and, the Gods and the Goddess enjoyed their food just as much. The women worshipped the divine guests. Shiva witnessed all of this and knew that there were no more ‘suhagras’ left as Parvati had blessed the other group with all the Suhagras that there was. Eagerly Shiva asked Parvati what was she going to bless these women with. Parvati then blessed these women with her blood. She sprinkled her blood all over them and thus both the groups of women were blessed by Parvati.
The festival of Gangaur holds great significance for both married and unmarried women. Married women observe fast for the long life and good health of their husbands. Unmarried women also observe fast for a great partner of their choice. Worshipping Isar and Gauri promises conjugal bliss.
The religious festivals in India outnumber the months. The kind of merriment that goes around is worth witnessing. Gangaur is a festival of hope, people seeking a love that is as beautiful as what Isar and Gauri had. This festival symbolizes a deep desire to find one’s true love.