Gangaur is one of the most popular festivals, enjoyed with great zeal and pleasure all over Rajasthan. The Gangaur festival is celebrated to worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It obtained its name from the words 'Gan', which is another name for Shiva and 'Gauri', which is used to signify Parvati. But primarily, this festival is celebrated to admire Goddess Parvati as she is considered the epitome of marital love, power, bravery, strength and superiority. On this auspicious day, all women gather and worship the Goddess with utmost devotion.
The festival is celebrated in the month of Chaitra, which is the initial month of the Hindu calendar. It starts on the very initial day of Chaitra month, the day after Holi and is rejoiced for eighteen days. It is the sign the end of winters and the arrival of spring. Wheat has a significant part in the rituals. It is sown in small pots made up of clay and wheat grass is utilized for worship purposes on the last day. Water pots are also adorned with traditional Rajasthani 'maandna', which is a unique kind of art done with lime water.
During the celebrations, married women worship Goddess Parvati to pray for long life, happiness and wealth of their husbands, whereas the girls ask for a smart and thoughtful life partner. It is compulsory for newly-wed girls to see the complete course of eighteen days of the festival and keep fasts to ensure a happy marriage. Girls and women observe fast on this auspicious day and eat just once in a day. Idols of Gauri and Isar, which are another names for Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, are prepared with clay and decorated very magnificently. In contrast, in few Rajput families, idols are built from wood every year prior to the festival and then painted in different colours by renowned painters, who are known as 'Matherans'.
The idols that are prepared during this time don’t have shades. During this festival, girls and women, wear new dresses, jewellery and apply beautiful mehandi designs on their palms and feet. In the evening of 7th day after commencement of this festival, girls carry 'ghudilas', which are pots made up of clay having several holes in which a lamp is lit, on their heads. Together they sing songs of Gangaur and are receive gifts like sweets, money, ghee and jaggery by the elders of the family. These gifts symbolize love.
This custom continues for ten days, and on the very last day, all women and girls break the earthen pots and throw its broken pieces in the well or tank. The clay idols crafted by married women are also dipped in water. A magnificent parade is presented that begins from the Zanani-Deodhi of City Palace and then goes all the way from Tripolia Bazaar, Chhoti Chaupar, Gangauri Bazaar, Chaugan Stadium and at last meets near Talkatora. This parade is followed by vibrant demonstration of elephants, old palanquins, bullock carts, chariots and splendid performances by folk artists.
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