Gangour is one of the widely celebrated festivals of Rajasthan. The festival marks the beginning of spring season in the state.It’s commenced at the mid of march with a series of celebrations that last for almost 18 days!
The word ‘Gangur’ is made up of two words,’Gana’ and ‘Gaur’. ‘Gana’ is synonymous with Lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ stands for Gauri (Parvali), the goddess Gauri who symbolizes soubhagya (marital bliss). The Gangour festival is widely acclaimed and enthusiastically celebrated throughout the state of Rajasthan. Gangaur is a festival of the women folks; Gangaur is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Gauri, who is considered as the symbol of virtue, devotion, fertility and a perfect married woman.
The small Idols of the Shiva and Gauri are usually made of wood or clay mud. These divine male and female entities are called ‘Isar’ and ‘Gauri’. 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 and eat only one meal a day.
Now, let me take you through the procedures of celebrations!
The celebration 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 holds a procession and carry colorful Idols of Gouri. Many people from nearby villages come to take part in the procession and roam around with them from village to villages.
On the main day of this festival, women wake up before sunrise. Prior to the worship, newlyweds and unmarried girls leave the house with an earthen pot with a lamp lit inside, called ‘Ghudlia’, on their head to near the pond and garden, to collect fresh water and fresh flowers respectively.While coming back to the house, women chant hymn and (mangal) songs.
After making home holy by sprinkling this water, women construct twenty-four finger-high and twenty-four finger-long square base of the holy clay in the solitary place.During this Pooja as a symbol of virtue, sixteen dots by kuncum, sixteen dots by mehndi and sixteen dots by kajal are made.
Women Decorate the Isar and Gauri with beautiful clothes and ornaments specially made for the occasion.the beautifully decorated idols look like they are brought to life by these girls and married women. Women worship ten forms of Mother Gauri: Gauri, Uma, Latika, Subhaga, Bhagmalini, Manokamna, Bhavani, Kamada, Bhog Vardavini and Ambika, with great devotion and faith.
The idol of Isar and Gouri placed on the head of married women are taken in a procession in the afternoon, to a garden, bawakdi or well. Vidaai songs are sung as Gouri departed to her husband’s house, after that they come back to home. These prayers are persisted continuously for 18 days and are concluded with the arrival of Lord Shiva to accompany his bride home.
The married women worship Gauri for welfare, health, and longevity of their husband and cheerful married life. While unmarried girls worship the goddess to get the husband of their choice.They sing Bhajans or devotional songs as part of Gangour Puja.During Gangour festival several fairs or Jatra are celebrated in Jaipur, Udaipur and many other towns in Rajasthan.
Gauri and Isar idols are taken out for a ceremonial procession through different parts of the city. Once the religious part of the festival is over, time for cultural events starts where the Rajasthani culture is portrayed through songs, dance and several cultural activities.
On the final day, the procession comes to an end with the Visarjan (immerse) of all the idols in the water of Gangour Ghats. The women bid farewell to Gouri and return back towards their home with teary eyes and in this way, Gangour Festival come to an end.