Gangaur- Celebrating women in Rajasthan

If you’re travelling to India for the rush of Holi, stay on a couple of days to watch Rajasthan celebrate Gangaur festival. Essentially a celebration of womanhood, it defines and honors the role of women in Rajasthani society. What that means is a celebration of marriage and a woman’s ultimate achievement of being a good wife.

Rajasthani women celebrating Gangaur

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Gangaur comes from combining the names for Shiva-Gana and his wife Parvathi-Gauri. Gauri personifies the ideal wife, embodying purity and austerity. According to legend, these are the days in which Gauri goes back to her parent’s home for a few days until her husband comes to collect her and take her back to their marital home. Thereby the story symbolises marital bliss and has become one of the most important festivals for the people of Rajasthan.

This is a colourful celebration of woman and marriage

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Colourfully marked, bedecked processions troop through the streets to the sound of drums to mark the departure. Each city puts its own spin on it. In Udaipur, women line up on the shores of Lake Picchola in their finest clothes to set off fireworks and as a boat procession moves down the water. In Jodhpur the women sing as they carry water and grass in brass pots. Whereas Jaipur’s winding procession moves through the city with elephants, horses, folk artists, palanquins and chariots in tow.

Clay idols of the godly couples are installed and decorated in every home to mark the commencement of the festival. Wheat grains, the grass from which is later used in the rituals, are sown in small earthen pots. While newly married women fast for the entire 18 days for the health of their husbands and their marriage, unmarried women also restrict themselves to one meal a day in the hope of finding a good match. They spend their days gathered together singing traditional songs to keep their minds off their empty stomachs. On the second day, known as Sinjara, presents arrive from the daughter-in-law’s parents ranging from sweets to clothes and jewellery.

Gangaur Festival in Rajasthan (Photo Credits to Margaux, Flickr)

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