Rajasthan globally famed for its royalty filled rich cultural heritage and traditions, besides this it is famous for its bright and vibrant festivals. Gangaur festival is one such popular festival of Rajasthan celebrated with lot of ardor and devotion. This embarking festival of Rajasthan accommodates us to endure a colourful insight into the culture of Rajasthan and experience a world of colours and festive spirit.
The Gangaur festival is the most dominant in Jaipur, Rajasthan which is celebrated around July and August and is prominent for women folk, during which is women offer prayers and worship goddess Gauri- the holy better half of Lord Shiva. 'Gan' represents Lord Shiva and 'Gaur' represents the goddess Gauri who is believed to be a divine energy, a symbol of virtue who blesses conjugal bliss and mental satisfaction in between married couples. Unmarried girls worship the lady goddess for having a good husband whereas married women pray for their husband's long life, welfare and good health. The festival is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur in anticipation of a favorable monsoon, flourishing harvest and marital bliss.
This 18 day annual festival starts with the following day of Holi - popular as a festival of colors in India. Images of Gauri and Shiva made out of clay and traditional wood. A day before the festival starts womenfolk decorate their hands and feet with henna paste popularly known as 'mehendi' in India. Women observe fast and consume only one meal for each day throughout this 18 day festival. Unwed girls lit and carry a lamp called 'Ghudlias' which is an earthen pot with holes around with a glowing lamp inside on their heads. The ritual is contemplated for the triumph of the ruler of Jodhpur- Rao Santhal; the burning of the lamp epitomizes maharaja's valor and chivalry. On the tenth day of this festival they break those pots and throw the remains into a water body soon after the feasting takes place.
This festival is celebrated all over Rajasthan and some other parts of the country as well. A lot of tourist visit Rajasthan during this festival to experience the essence of India through the rituals, culture and traditions. Udaipur celebrates this festival with extra zeal and somewhat differently from other parts of Rajasthan. The festival's main attraction is a spectacular boat race is held in the charismatic and charming Lake Pichola. Women carrying and balancing brass pitchers on their head and marching along the streets are a frequented sight during this festival. The festival is specifically has a great significance to the tribal folks of Rajasthan. The countryside showcases the festival through bright and colorful processions including the town band, horses, and elaborate palanquins making it a magnificent sight which proceeds from village to village. Thousands of villagers take part in these processions with a lot of enthusiasm. The festival even allows men and women to intermingle and choose their life partner without making it to an issue. The festival witnesses this unusual custom which helps the youth of Rajasthan to marry according to their will and choose their life partner which adds on to the gaiety of the Udaipur celebrations.