History of Gangaur Festival
Parvati or Gauri, the consort of Shiva is a symbol of virtue and devotion and considered a legendary figure for married women. The festival is held in her honour.
Gangaur is the most important local festival in Rajasthan and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The common belief associated with the festival is that if unmarried girls observe the rituals of this festival they get a nice life partner of their choice. And if the married women observe the same, she is said to be blessed with a happy married life and long life of their husbands. The celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have a unique charm and attraction.
The celebrations 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 hold a procession and carry colorful idols of Gauri. Many people from nearby villages too come to take part in the procession and roam around with them from village to village.
A sense of romance is felt in the atmosphere as the occasion also gives an opportunity to tribal men and women to come in contact with each other, to meet and interact freely; this help them to select partners of their choice and marrying by eloping. It is the unique thing about this festival.
The festival begins from the first day of Chaitra or from the next day of Holi and continues for 18 days. The festival begins with the custom of gathering ashes from the Holi Fire and burying the seeds of barley in it. After it, the seeds are watered everyday awaiting the germination. 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 for the full period of the 18 days and eat only one meal a day.
The idols of Gauri and Isar are dressed in new attires and bejeweled with sparkling ornaments especially made for the occasion. The beautifully decorated statues looks like they are brought to life by these girls and married women. The idols of Isar and Gauri placed on the heads of married women are taken in a procession in the afternoon, to a garden, bawdi or johad or well. Vidaai songs are sung as Gauri departs to her husband’s house. The idol of Gauri was offered water by the ladies present in the procession, they then comes back. On the final day, the procession came to an end with the Visarjaan of all the idols in the waters of a tank or a well. The women bid farewell to Gauri and return back towards their home with teary eyes and in this way Gangaur Festival comes to an end.
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