Gangaur Festival- The Festival of Mewar
India is a country of festivals. Every year many festivals are celebrated here by people of different religions. Gangaur is colorful and one of the most special festivals of Mewar (Rajasthan). Gangaur festival is also known as Mewar Festival.
This cultural festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion by womenfolk every year during March-April. In this festival, ‘Lord Shiva’ and ‘Goddess Gauri’ are worshiped.
This amazing Hindu festival is a celebration of spring, harvest, matrimonial loyalty, and childbirth.
The ceremony was extended for three days by the Rajasthan Tourism Department and hence, the Mewar festival or Gangaur festival came into the picture 25 years ago. It starts on the next day of Holi and continues for 18 days.
There are many regions in the state of Rajasthan that celebrate the great annual festival Gangaur. The main cities where the Gangaur festival is celebrated, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Nathdwara, and Bikaner and Udaipur are the most preferred cities where Gangaur is celebrated.
History Behind Celebrating Gangaur Festival
Gangaur worships Goddess Gauri in the festival and celebrates pure love and marriage. The word “Gan” is used for Lord Shiva, while “Gaur” is for Gauri (Parvati) and Gangaur signifies Lord Shiva and Parvati together.
According to history, Gauri won the heart of Lord Shiva and attracted him through his deep meditation and devoted attention. After that Lord Shiva was impressed by Lord Parvati, married her. Goddess Parvati then went back to her parents’ house during Gangaur to bless her friends with blissful marriage. On the last day, Parvati was given a wonderful farewell by her loved ones and Lord Shiva arrived at her house to escort her.
How is the Gangaur festival celebrated?
The festival is celebrated specially by womenfolk with great enthusiasm, devotion, and love with Gauri and it is celebrated by both married and unmarried women. Lord Shiva (Gan) and Goddess Gauri (Gaur) are worshiped during this festival. While married women keep a fast, pray to the goddess Gauri for good health and success for their husbands and their married life. Unmarried women worship the goddess to be blessed with a good husband.
For newly wedded women, it is bound to follow the entire course of the 18-day festival that makes their marriage a success. Even unmarried girls fast for the entire duration of 18 days and eat only once a day.
Many folk tales are associated with Gangaur which makes this festival deeply embedded in the hearts of the people of Rajasthan.
Idol or Statues
The idol of Gangaur is specially made from the sacred clay. Statues of Lord Shiva and Lord Shield are purchased from local artisans.
In Udaipur, the Sharma family and their ancestors have been Making Clay Gangaur or Choti Gangaur for so many years.
In some Rajput families, permanent wooden statues are painted every year by eminent painters called Matheran on the eve of the festival.
Another major difference between the idols of Teej and Gangaur is that during Teej Mahotsav, the idol is kept under an umbrella, while the idol of Gangaur is kept without an umbrella.
The ritual is colorful and cheerful with traditional folk songs sung in praise of Gauri.
Women decorate their hands and feet by making beautiful designs with henna (myrtle paste).
In the evening on the seventh day after the Holi festival, unmarried girls take out a parade with a clay pot (decorated water pot) and sing songs of Ghudlia.
Ghudlias are earthen pots with holes around it and a lamp inside. On their way, the girls are presented with small gifts like sweets, jaggery, ghee, oil, and a little cash.
This ritual continues for ten days until the conclusion of the Gangaur Festival. On the final day, the girls break their pots and throw the remains in a well or tank, and after that enjoy a feast.
Maa Gauri’s Departure
However, the Gangaur Festival remains at its peak in the last three days. In the remaining three days, the women wear a special traditional Rajasthani dress. Parents of newly married women send gifts, clothes, jewelry, and other items to their daughter’s home.
The daughter wears that dress, apply henna, and celebrates the last day of the festival.
A grand procession is organized on the 18th day, in which large statues of Shiva and Parvati Maa are first decorated with flowers and gems, and then the whole city is visited and worshiped. A large number of women participate in it. The women sing religious songs and poems to please Goddess Maa Gauri.
The women bring a pot of water to their head on the banks of the river. Earthen pots near the river are broken and the clay idols are immersed in water whereas large wooden idols are brought back by sprinkling holy water.
And finally, the women bid farewell to Maa Gauri with moist eyes and this is where the festival of Gangaur ends.
In the tribal community, this day is considered as a match-fixing day. On this day, men and women interact with each other and choose their spouses.
When the Gangaur Festival is Celebrated?
Every year the Gangaur or Mewar festival is celebrated in March or on the first day of Chaitra, the day after Holi according to the Hindu calendar, and continues for 16 days.
How the Gangaur festival celebrated in Lake City Udaipur?
There is a ghat in Udaipur city which is popularly known as Gangaur Ghat because Gangaur idols were immersed there by Maharajas for years and then later that ghat is known as Gangaur Ghat which is so popular all over Rajasthan.
In Udaipur, there is a boat procession on the Lake Pichola with all the fireworks. The women try to balance the brass pot on their heads, which makes the festival very exciting and attractive. And finally, it ends with fireworks on the lakeside. This grand Rajasthani ceremony extends for three days from March 27-29 and coincides with the Mewar Festival.
This is how Mewar celebrates the Gangaur festival Each year. If you any queries related to this festival, please let us know in the comment section.