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Despite multiple names, Gangaur is a celebration of a perfect marriage, that between Shiv and Parvati. The name itself is a symbolic union – Gan is another name for Shiv and Gauri for Parvati.
All married girls in same locality do poojan in their 1st first year of marriage. It starts from the day holika is burnt and continues for 16 to 18 days. One lady can’t do it alone. It is supposed to be done in pairs. Gangaur is largely female-centric and ladies pray for the welfare of their husbands and unmarried girls pray to get husband of their choice.
The festival has a lot of religious importance to the people as Lord Shiva and Parvati represents perfection and connubial love.
Typically, handcrafted idols of Shiv and Parvati are made from cow dung and ashes from the Holika dahan bonfire for the first eight days. Alongside , 16 balls, each made from roli (holy red thread), kajal and heena, are made and kept for a puja. Wheat also plays an important role in the ceremonies; some grains are sowed in an earthen pot called ‘kunda’ and worshipped, while exactly seven grains of wheat are given to the women who preserve it carefully for the puja.
Ingredients required for the puja :
Some water in a vessel, a stick of turmeric, a silver ring (the latter two signifying Lakshmi), and the seven grains of wheat. During the puja, women sing songs in praise of Shiv and Parvati and unmarried girls and newly-wed brides (in the first year of marriage) observe the Suraj-Rota ka vrat (fast) for the Sun God. There is an interesting ritual that the women observe during this time –a small hole is made in a fried puri, which is used to look at the sun as an offering to the Sun God. This ritual is carried out with utmost care without exposing the puri to direct sunlight. This is done only on a Sunday (the day of the Sun God). During Gangaur, women eat food without salt once a day before sunset.
This ritual is celebrated mainly across the ‘Marwadi community’ whereby married women wish for their husband’s well being, girls and unmarried girls wish for a fortunate life with their would-be husband. It is believed that since Goddess Parvati austered/prayed (tapasya) for Lord Shiva , every woman should follow the same procedure in order to be blessed by a wonderful companion.
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