When you see India, you see a confluence of rich ancient traditions and colourful festival celebrations spread across length and breadth of this country. One of the most colourful, joyful celebrations from times unknown is “Gangaur Festival”. This festival is part of ancient traditions followed in Indian state of Rajasthan and some parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The festival is famous all over the world. A local sweet prepared around this festival called “Ghewar” is also a delight.
Commencing on the first day of Chaitra, following the day of Holi this illustrious festival is celebrated lasting 18 days with great fervour by women particularly in Rajasthan. It is a celebration of utmost and unwavered devotion to Lord Shiva (Gana) and his consort Goddess Parvati (Gauri). Unmarried women seek the blessings of the goddess to get a suitable match whereas the married women worship the god and goddess for marital bliss and happiness. At the end of 18 days the goddess is bid a grand farewell by her beloved worshippers with Lord Shiva to escort her back home.
As a part of celebration women bury the seeds of wheat and barley in the Holi fire ashes which are watered religiously every day till they are germinated. Praises of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are sung, dances are performed to its lyrics with varying of pots of water on the head. A week after Holi, women make clay idols of Lord Shiva and Gauri and decorate it with colourful clothes and ornaments.
On the 7th day after Holi, Unmarried girls get dressed in new colourful clothes and take out a parade, singing, dancing and carrying decorative earthen lamps on their heads, locally called as “Ghudlia”. They are showered with sweets, jaggery, ghee and even some money by people on their way.
On the last three days, women and girls alike get dressed in the best colourful outfit, offer their prayers to the idols made by them,and singthe local folk songs of Parvati’s departure to her husband’s home. The procession comes back on the first two days.On the last day a procession is carried with images of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on the head of a married woman which are taken to a nearby water body. On this final day the Goddess faces the same direction as Lord Shiva. The procession completes with submerging of all the idols in water as a symbol of Goddess Parvati’s return to her home with Lord Shiva.
All in all, the entire festival of Gangaur resonate the rich tradition, belief and rituals of the country and echoes the colourful and musical heritage of Rajasthan.