The Gangaur festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in Jaipur. ‘Gan’ is the other word for the Hindu Lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ stands for Gauri or Goddess Parvati. The festival is held to pay tribute to Goddess Parvati, the epitome of marital love, strength, courage, power and excellence. Married women of the region worship Goddess Parvati for the long life, well being and wealth of their husbands while the unmarried girls’ wishes for a smart and an understanding life partner during the festival. It comes in the first month of Hindu calendar, Chaitra, between March and April. It begins on the very first day of the Chaitra month, i.e. the day after Holi and last for 18 days. It is symbolic to the end of winter and coming of spring.
Parvati or Gauriis considered as the better half of Shiva, the destroyer. The festival is held in her honor to pay homage to the symbol of virtue and fidelity – the two qualities which is expected of a married woman.
It is believed by the Hindus that during this period, goddess Parvati had returned to her parental home to bless her friends with marital bliss. On her last day of stay, she was given a grand farewell by her loved ones. Hence the festival ends in rejoicing with the arrival of Shiva to escort his bride, Gauri to his home accompanied by horses and elephants.
Women and girls in Jaipur observe fast during those 18 days and eat only once during the day. Gauri and Isar (Lord Shiva) are crafted out of clay and decorated elegantly. However, in some of the Rajput families, the images are made of woods which are painted by the famous ‘Matherans’ or painters before the festival begins. The female folk get dressed elegantly and beautifully and adorn themselves with different jewelries, clothing in pure Rajasthani attire. Girls are seen carrying ‘ghudilas’ on the evening of the seventh day. ‘Ghudilas’ are actually earthen pots with many holes. A lamp is lit on the inside and the whole arrangement is carried on their heads. They sing hymns relating to Gangaur and are gifted with money, ghee, sweets, jaggery etc by the elders of the family as a symbol of love.
The female folk break the pots and throw the broken pieces into a well or a tank on the last day. Whereas the clay idols made by the married women are immersed in water on the last day of the festival.
Gangaur is undoubtedly, one of the most important local festivals in Rajasthan. The celebration has unique charm and attraction in Jaipur.
The preparation begins almost a fortnight before the actual day. A grand procession is also held that runs throughout the city. It starts from Zanani-Deodhi of the City Palace and goes through Tripolia Bazaar, Chhoti Chaupar, Gangauri Bazaar, Chaugan Stadium and finally meet near the Talkatora. The procession is headed by a colorful pageantry elephants, old palanquins, chariots, bullock carts and beautiful performances by folk artistes – definitely a sight to behold. You do not have to belong to a particular caste or creed to observe or be a part of the procession. Everyone is welcomed!
Colorful images of Mother Gauri are displayed in the procession which is backed up by the town band. Thousands of people even from the remote interiors are seen flooding the street only to take part in the procession.
The sweet dish ghewar is the characteristic item on the list during this festival.