The Gangaur Festival is the most significant local festival of Rajasthan which is
celebrated during the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April). Gangaur festival
celebrations light up enthusiastically to several places of Rajasthan such as Bikaner,
Jaipur, Jodhpur, Nathdwara, Udaipur and Banswara. For the entire Rajasthanis, Gangaur
festival holds a unique significance and celebrated with great fervor and devotion by
womenfolk who worship Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva.
The name Gangaur is derived
from the word 'Gan' i.e. Lord Shiva and 'Gauri' i.e. Godesses Parvati. Goddess Parvati
or Gauri is the companion of Shiva, the almighty of destroying power. The occasion of
Gangaur festival is organized in admiration of Godesses Parvati as she is the emblem of
good value, faithfulness and as such is the mythological role model of married women. It
is believed that if bachelor girls watch the rituals of this festival, they will get married to
the partner of their choice and married women observe the festival for the happiness and
long life of their husbands. The festive ambiance throughout the state of Rajasthan has a
unique charm and appeal.
The festival continues for 18 days that begins on the first day of Chaitra in which
maidens and married women appears in their best costumes and jewelers. This festival
commences the day after Holi in which women sing melodic folk songs, accompanied by
musicians and bands. It is expected from a newly-wedded girl that she will observe the
full course of 18 days of the festival that succeeds her happy marriage life. During the
Gangaur festival, entire Rajasthan vibrates with cultural celebration. A huge parade starts
from the Zenana Deori at the Junagarh Fort main gate and passes through momentous
places in the Bikaner city before it arrives at Talkatora where women plunge the idols
of Gauri and Isar in the lake.
A vast gathering of the citizens from nearby areas can be
seen in other parts of Rajasthan that witnesses the procession. In this occasion, women
sing a folk song about departure of Gauri to her husband's home. At the last day, women
face in the same direction as Isar and the procession concludes with the delivery of all
the images in the waters of a tank or a well. The women put forward farewell to Gauri
and turn their steps back to home with tears in their eyes and the Festival comes to an
end. Married women and maidens keep Vrata (fast) during the Gangaur festival and
prepare sweets made by milk and carry them on their heads to the banks of any water
body and worship the goddess Gauri and return back to home distributing the milk sweets
throughout the way as "Prasad". The ladies embellish their hands and feet by drawing
designs with 'mehandi' (myrtle paste).
One more interesting event which this festival has that- tribal men and women have a
chance to meet and act together freely during this occasion and consequently they select
partners and get marry by eloping.
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