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Rajasthan is a beautiful state that is a perfect amalgamation of the old and the new and is often referred to as the land of Kings. The lavish forts and palaces remind us of the rich and romantic culture of Rajasthan. Though it is the most arid state in India, but when it comes to festivals and fairs, it brings sheer color and exuberance. Gangaur is a popular festival celebrated by the people of Rajasthan and it is a spring festival that is dedicated to Goddess Parvati.
History of Rajasthan festival Gangaur
The word Gangaur, “Gan” is the synonym for Lord Shiva and Gaur stands for Gauri or Goddess Parvati. She represents strength, power, marital love and excellence. Gangaur festival is performed by women and all the rituals are also observed by them. The puja is held in the month of Chaitra or April as per the Hindu calendar and starts soon after Holi and continues for 18 long days. It is an elaborate occasion with several rituals associated with it. This is a local festival and it is observed by girls so that they get a perfect life partner of their choice. Married women perform the puja for long life of their husbands and for a happy married life.
The celebration and rituals:
The Ganguar puja begins with the custom of gathering ashes from the Holi fire and barley seeds are buried in it and watered every day for germination. Newly wedded girls keep fast to ensure that they have a happy married life. The images of Gauri and Lord Shiva are made with clay and then beautifully decorated and painted.
Some families also create images of wood every year and get them painted by famous painters called Matherans.Women wear a new dress, apply henna on their palms and feet and wear jewelry. They sing traditional folk songs in praise of Shiva and Parvati and carry Ghudlia or earthen pots with holes and a lamp in it on their heads in the evening. They are offered gifts by the elders in the form of sweets, ghee, jaggery or money.
On the last day of the Gangaur festival, the pots are broken and the pieces are thrown into the well or a tank. The clay images of Gauri and Shiva are dressed in new attires and ornaments and are placed on the heads of married women. A procession is taken out in the afternoon and vidaai songs are sung as Gauri returns to her husband’s home. The procession is usually headed by beautifully decorated elephants, chariots, old palanquins, folk artists and etc. Women also cook variety of Rajasthani Dishes on the eve of Gangaur. People come together on that day irrespective of their caste and become a part of the procession.
Many people from nearby villages also become part of the procession. The atmosphere is filled with a sense of romance and this festival gives an opportunity to men and women to come in contact with each other and select their partners of their choice. This is something which is very unique about this festival. With the Visarjaan of the idols, the festival comes to an end and women bid farewell to Parvati and return back to their home.
Gangaur fairs are held at various places throughout Rajasthan and some towns are very popular for the fair like Udaipur where a boat procession is made across the Pichola lake. Fairs are also organized in Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and people from various parts of the country come to visit the fairs.
Gangaur festival 2016 will be observed on April 9th and 10th; so start your preparations and gain more information about the ritual and traditions of this festival of Rajasthan.