FACTS & FIGURES
Time of the year - March/April
The most important local festival in Rajasthan, Gangaur is held about a fortnight after Holi and the celebrations go on for eighteen days. The festival is held in honor of Gauri, a manifestation of goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. The festival is celebrated by girls and married women throughout Rajasthan. Images of Gauri are ornamented and offerings are made. This is also an auspicious time for young people to select their life partners. Colorful processions with the town band, horses, and elaborate palanquins make it a fascinating spectacle.
The Gangaur festival is celebrated throughout Rajasthan with great enthusiasm but the celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have their own special charm. The festival is also celebrated with great pomp and show in Bikaner, Jodhpur, Marathwara and Jaisalmer. Girls worship the goddess throughout the fortnight. Colorful images of Gauri, beautifully dressed and bejeweled, are taken out in a procession accompanied by the town band.
A boat procession is taken out on the Pichola Lake in Udaipur. Women balancing several brass pitchers on their heads add to the gaiety of the Udaipur celebrations. Thousands of people from the countryside come to take part in the procession of Gangaur, which goes around from village to village. Tribal men and women get the opportunity to meet and interact freely and during this time, they select partners and elope to marry. An unusual, romantic custom sanctioned by the community, it helps many young people find their life partner.
Goddess Parvati is the symbol of virtue and fidelity and is the mythological role model of married women. It is believed that she holds all the qualities of a good wife. The word Gangaur signifies Lord Shiva and Parvati together. Gan is a synonym for Shiva and Gaur stands for Gauri, who symbolizes saubhagya (marital bliss). Gauri is the embodiment of perfection and conjugal love and unmarried women worship her to be blessed with good husbands, while married women do so for the welfare, health and long life of their spouses and a long, happy married life.
According to local belief, during this period, goddess Parvati had returned to her parental home to bless her friends with marital bliss. On the last day of her stay, she was given a grand farewell by her loved ones. The festival ends in rejoicing, with the arrival of Shiva to escort his bride, Gauri, home, accompanied by horses and elephants.
PLACES TO VISIT
The ultimate place to witness the spectacular Gangaur festival definitely is Rajasthan. The festival is celebrated in almost every part of Rajasthan with its related tradition and rituals. And in every part of the state, one can observe the differences in the celebrations and festivities of Gangaur.