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GANGAUR FESTIVAL IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA


Gangaur is a significant festival of Rajasthan, especially meant for the women. Gangaur festival of Rajasthan is widely acclaimed and celebrated throughout the state of Rajasthan. The word Gangaur is derived from two words, 'Gan' and 'Gauri' which are synonyms of 'Siva' and his consort 'Parvati' respectively. Gangaur festival of Rajasthan is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Gauri, who is considered as the symbol of virtue, devotion, fertility and a perfect married woman. Gangaur festival of Rajasthan celebrates the union of the two and is a symbol of conjugal and marital happiness.

Gangaur festival of Rajasthan is celebrated in the month of chaitra (March-April), the first month of the Hindu calendar. This month marks the end of winter and the onset of spring. The festival of Gangaur starts with the subsequent day of Holi and persists for about 2 weeks.

The womenfolk of Rajasthan worship Gauri with all the means of devotion. The married women worship Gauri for the well-being of their husband, while the unmarried girls worship the goddess to get the husband of their choice. This is also an auspicious day for young people to select their life partners. A newly-wedded girl observes a fast for the full course of 18 days of the festival that succeeds her marriage. Even unmarried girls fast and eat only one meal a day. Colourful processions with the town band playing horses and elaborate palanquins make it a fascinating spectacle. This worship which starts form the first day of the chaitra month culminates on the 18th day into Gangaur festival of Rajasthan with a great religious fervor. The festival of Rajasthan 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.

GANGAUR FESTIVAL IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA

The ceremony takes place with the praiseful songs for Isar (Siva) and Gauri. The women apply henna on their hands to celebrate the auspicious festival. They carry painted matkas (water pots) on their heads. They also make images of Gauri and Isar with clay. During the last days of the festival, the celebration reaches to its height. On the final day, lively images of Gauri are taken out in procession escorted by traditionally dressed camels, bullock carts, horses and elephants. Songs are sung about the departure of Gauri to her husband's home.

Legends and History of the Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan, India

Goddess Parvati is the symbol of virtue and fidelity and is the mythological role model of married women. It is believed that she holds all the qualities of a good wife. The word Gangaur signifies Lord Shiva and Parvati together. Gan is a synonym for Shiva and Gaur stands for Gauri, who symbolizes saubhagya (marital bliss). Gauri is the embodiment of perfection and conjugal love and unmarried women worship her to be blessed with good husbands, while married women do so for the welfare, health and long life of their spouses and a long, happy married life.

According to local belief, during this period, goddess Parvati had returned to her parental home to bless her friends with marital bliss. On the last day of her stay, she was given a grand farewell by her loved ones. The festival ends in rejoicing, with the arrival of Shiva to escort his bride, Gauri, home, accompanied by horses and elephants.
 
Rites and Rituals of the Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan in India

The festival of Rajasthan commences on the first day of Chaitra, the day following Holi and continues for 18 days. For a newly-wedded girl, it is binding to observe the full course of 18 days of the festival that succeeds her marriage. Even unmarried girls fast for the full period of 18 days and eat only one meal a day. 

GANGAUR FESTIVAL IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA


 
Images and Paintings

Images of Isar and Gauri are made of clay for the festival of Rajasthan. In some families, permanent wooden images are painted afresh every year by reputed painters called 'matherans' on the eve of the festival of Rajasthan. A distinct difference between the idols of Teej and Gangaur is that the idol will have a canopy during the Teej Festival of Rajasthan while the Gangaur idol would not have one. 
 
Mehandi
The ladies decorate their hands and feet by drawing designs with 'mehandi' (myrtle paste). The figures drawn range from the Sun, Moon and the stars to simple flowers or geometrical designs.
 
Ghudlia
Ghudlias are earthen pots with numerous holes all around and a lamp lit inside them. On the evening of the 7th day after Holi, unmarried girls go around singing songs of 'ghudlia' carrying the pots with a burning lamp inside, on their heads. On their way, they collect small presents of cash, sweets, jaggery, ghee, oil etc. This continues for 10 days i.e. upto the conclusion of the Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan when the girls break their pots and throw the debris into a well or a tank and enjoy a feast with the collections made.
 
This ritual is performed on the occasion of Gangaur of Rajasthan as a reminder of the triumph of Rao Santhal, ruler of Jodhpur of Rajasthan, over Mir Ghudley Khan, who had carried away 140 maidens who were celebrating the festival of Gangaur of Rajasthan, in 1548 AD. The burning lamp signifies the valour and chivalry of the Maharaja of Rajasthan. 
 
Gauri's Departure

The festival of Rajasthan reaches its climax during the last three days. The images of Gauri and Isar are dressed in new garments especially made for the occasion. Unmarried girls and married women decorate the images and make them look like living figures. 
 
At an auspicious hour in the afternoon, a procession is taken out to a garden, tank or a well with the images of Isar and Gauri, placed on the heads of married women. Songs are sung about the departure of Gauri to her husband's house. The procession comes back after offering water to the image of Gauri, which faces backwards on the first two days. On the final day, she faces in the same direction as Isar and the procession concludes with the consignment of all the images in the waters of a tank or a well. The women bid farewell to Gauri and turn their steps homewards with tears in their eyes and the Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan comes to an end.

GANGAUR FESTIVAL IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA

Gangaur Festivities at various destinations in Rajasthan

The Gangaur festival of Rajasthan is celebrated throughout Rajasthan with great enthusiasm but the celebrations in Jaipur of Rajasthan and Udaipur of Rajasthan have their own special charm. The festival of Rajasthan is also celebrated with great pomp and show in Bikaner, Jodhpur, Marathwara and Jaisalmer of Rajasthan.

Bikaner of Rajasthan
In Bikaner of Rajasthan, married women and maidens fast during the festival of Rajasthan. They prepare sweet dishes, carry them to a well, make an offering thereof to the goddess, and return home distributing these as 'prasad' on the way.

Jaipur of Rajasthan
In Jaipur of Rajasthan, a sweet dish called 'ghewar' is characteristic of the Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan. People buy 'ghewar' to eat and distribute it among their friends and relatives. A traditional procession of Gangaur commerces form the Zanani- Deodhi of the City Palace, passing through Tripolia Bazair, Chhoti Chaupar, Gangauri Bazar, Chaugan stadium and finally converges near the Talkatora. The procession is headed by a colorful pageantry of elephants, old palanquins, chariots, bullock carts and performance folk artists. A vast gathering of the citizens of Jaipur and villagers from nearby areas witnesses the procession.

Jodhpur of Rajasthan
In Jodhpur of Rajasthan, the fair of 'lotias' is a distinctive feature of the Gangaur celebrations in Jodhpur of Rajasthan. Early in the morning, thousands of maidens, clad in their best attire, singing melodious songs, bring water and 'durva' grass in silver or brass pots to a place known as Girdikot. The fair of Rajasthan is witnessed by a large number of citizens who throng to the locality to be a part of the celebration.

Nathdwara of Rajasthan
In Nathdwara of Rajasthan, the procession of Gangaur lasts 7 days. Each day, a particular colour is chosen for the dress of the goddess. On the last day of the festival, the image of Gauri is dressed in black with golden lace work and women carrying the image too are dressed in a similar fashion. This indicates the final departure of Gauri.

GANGAUR FESTIVAL IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA

Udaipur of Rajasthan
The images of Isar and Gauri are taken in a procession to the Pichhola Lake, thereafter they go around the lake in a boat, for an hour and the ceremony comes to an end with a display of fireworks on the banks.

Banswara of Rajasthan
In Banswara of Rajasthan, the procession is taken out from the Zenana Deorhi to Singhvashi Chowk; both are areas within the palace compound. Traditional religious ceremonies are performed here.

Gangaur Festival among the Girasias tribe in Rajasthan

The Girasia tribes of Rajasthan, who live in Sirohi-Mount Abu region, celebrate Gangaur as a continuation of festivities from Holi to Akshaya Tritiya - lasting for more than a month. They go from village to village singing, dancing and extending invitations while carrying the images of Gangaur. The images are brought back to the village from where they started. During the festival of Rajasthan, eligible boys and girls of the tribe select their life partners and elope with them. This form of marriage has the sanction of the community.

Location and Transport

The major cities of Rajasthan in India are easily accessible from the major cities of India by rail, road and air.

Air
Many domestic airlines connect many important cities of Rajasthan including Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur to all the major cities of India. Flights for Delhi and Mumbai run on a regular basis. The Jaipur airport has been granted the status of an international airport and connects to the foreign cities like Sharjaha and Muscat too.

Rail
Jaipur Railway Station is a central main station of the state of Rajasthan. The vast rail tracks of Indian Railways connect all other cities of Rajasthan with the rest of India. There are numerous trains which run on a regular basis to and from Jaipur.

Road
Rajasthan is well connected by road to major cities in India. Excellent road network serves people to enjoy a comfortable journey. This mode of traveling is quite easy and comparatively cheap. Regular bus services from nearby cities connect Jaipur to the other cities. Deluxe Buses, AC coaches and Government buses are available for the convenience of the passengers.

 

 
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