Sunday, 15 July 2012

GANGAUR FESTIVAL


Gangaur Festival, Jaipur

Rajasthan, in western India, is a land of imposing forts and magnificent palaces. However, this majestic land is also known for its amazing cultural traditions. The colorful festivals of Rajasthan are famous occasions and contribute immensely towards the growth of tourism in Rajasthan. Among the most famous festivals in Rajasthan, the Gangaur festival holds special mention. 

The Gangaur festival is celebrated with lot of pomp in Rajasthan. This festival is celebrated by the women in the month of Chaitra of the traditional Hindu calendar, corresponding to March / April. The festival celebrates marital bliss and ushers in the harvesting season, marked by the advent of spring. It is very famous among the fairs and festivals of Rajasthan, and attracts a lot of tourists. It is also a very important aspect of Rajasthani culture. 

The Gangaur festival is mainly celebrated by the womenfolk for conjugal happiness. The deities worshipped are ‘Gan’ and ‘Gauri’ the local names given to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. The married women pray to these deities for the long life and well being of their husbands, while the unmarried women pray for the husband of their choice. The festivities continue till 18 days from the start. The women have to follow many rituals during the course of the festival, the most prominent of which is the carrying of earthen pots with a lamp burning inside for 10 days. The women celebrate the period by singing traditional ritualistic songs and dress themselves attractively. Applying henna in various intricate patterns is yet another part of the festival. A new bride has to observe all the rituals over the 18day period. In many places, the festivities are an opportunity for young men and women to find out spouses of their choice. During this period they are allowed to interact freely, a liberal move by an otherwise conservative society.
The Gangaur festival is one of the major tourist attractions in Rajasthan, and is celebrated all over the state with great revelry. Tours to Rajasthan during this festival promises to be a fascinating experience as you will get to witness some of the centuries old traditions in practice. All the major towns participate in the festival, but mention must be made of Jaipur and Udaipur where the festivities are the most famous and spectacular. In all the towns the idols of Gan and Gauri are dressed in colorful clothes and taken out in processions, accompanied by bands and traditional songs. 

In Udaipur, a boat procession is taken out in the famous Lake Pichola. The other major cities also show similar participation in this grand event. The end of the festival is marked by a ceremonious feast, songs and dances. The immersion of the idols in the nearby lakes or ponds is the final part of the festivities. 

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