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Gangaur festival is mostly celebrated in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal & Gujarat. This amazing festival is celebrated by the women & it is known as the festival of Goddess Gauri or Parvati. This festival is celebrated one a year during the month of March. This festival is all about worshiping Goddess Gauri or Parvati & it is known as a celebration of marriage & love. On the occasion of this festival, both the married as well as unmarried girls take part in the festivities with great energy & enthusiasm. According to the locals, Goddess Parvati represents perfection & this festival means a lot to them. The married women worship Goddess Parvati for prosperity & well-being for their husbands.
Once upon a time ago, Lord Shiva, Parvati(Gauri) and sage Narada decided to visit a small forest. When the people residing in that forest came to know about the visit of the Gods, it became huge news. Women from that village prepared a feast for the Gods. The women prepared a variety of dishes and the women of the higher class came with their delicious dishes. After finishing dinner, the Gods sprinkled holy water on them, as a symbol of blessing. Later, when the women of the lower class arrived there to seek blessing, the Gods didn’t have any holy water left with them so that they could have blessed the women. Hence, Goddess Parvati cut her finger and instead of holy water, she sprinkled her blood as the holy water and blessed them.
Gana & Gauri are non other than Lord Shiva & Parvati & the word “Gangaur” signifies the togetherness of Lord Shiva & Parvati. It is said that Lord Shiva got attracted towards Parvati because of her dedicated meditation & devotion & later married her. After marriage Goddess Parvati went to her parental place & while she was there, she blessed her friends with blissful marriage. Goddess Parvati stayed at her parent’s place for 18 days and on the last day, when it was time for her to leave the place, a spectacular farewell was organized and Lord Shiva Himself had come down to earth to escort Goddess Parvati to their home.
The celebration of this festival starts on the first day of Chaitra and it is usually celebrated on the next day of the festival Holi. From the first day of the festival, women keep fasting for 18 days to complete the ritual. During the 18-day long fasting, women eat only once per day. The festival comes to an end on the third day of Shukla Paksha. The women who take part in the festival, dress themselves up in traditional attire and wear jewels as well. They pray to the almighty for the welfare of their husbands, every day in the morning & evening during the 18 days that the festival lasts. People buy idols of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati, decorate them and keep them in a wicker basket and add flowers and grass to it. Wheat is sown in small earthen pots as it is believed that wheat grass is an important element of the festival. People also use decorated water pots to decorate their houses during the festival. Newly married women fast for the entire day while the unmarried women can eat once a day during the 18-days long festival.On the 7th day of the festival, unmarried women carry burning lamps inside a clay pot on their heads & sing traditional songs on their way. The elder members of the families bless them and also handover gifts to them. On the 17th day of the festivals, parents of the married women send gifts, jewelry, clothes & other items to their daughter’s houses. On the last day of the festival, the women wear clothes sent by their parents, apply henna & celebrate the festival in grand style. On the 18th day or the last day, people conduct a grand procession where they carry a large statue of Goddess Parvati, fully decorated & take it through the entire city. The entire population of pilgrims goes along with the procession with other locals. Women carry the water pots on their heads till the river bank and break the water pots near the river and the idols get immersed into the water. In a few tribal communities, this day is believed to be the day of match-making. Men & women interact with each other during the festival & pick their life partners.
Gangaur festival is majorly celebrated in places like Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Nathdwara, and Bikaner. This festival coincides with the Mewar festival in Udaipur, which takes place after two days of this festival.
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