The third day of the Hindu new year is celebrated as the ‘Ganagour Festival’ in Rajasthan and by all rajasthanis in any part of the world. The festival actually begins from the day following ‘Holi’ and is a sixteen day festival.
During this festival, goddess Parvati (as Ganagour), along with her husband lord Shiva (as Isarji), are worshipped by young girls and women. Young girls pray to the goddess so that they can get a good husband and the married ones pray for the long lives, health and prosperity of their husbands. Women offer prayers for sixteen days or just on the last day as they wish. Newly wed brides have to offer prayers for the duration of the sixteen days. During these sixteen days women get together, and programs are organized which includes a lot of singing and dancing. Ganagour fairs are also organized at many places.
Women apply henna just before the last day of the festival.
The last day is the day when Ganagour goes back to her husband’s home with him. So women and girls keep a fast, offer prayers to the Ganagour, dress her up, offer sweets and tell each other stories about Ganagour and Isarji.
Apart from all the colorful festivities, what I like the most about all our festivals is that how our ancient sages, philosophers and thinkers wove some social message or included an ideal way of life into all our festivals. Here, after the pooja (offering prayers), women tell and listen to stories of Ganagour and Isarji. These stories carry with them messages of how how to lead a happy married life without too many frictions or misunderstandings. They become all the more relevant in India because in India the marriage is not just between two individuals but between two families and the onus of maintaining a happily balanced relationship between the two automatically falls on the women folk.
Here, I’ve shown and written about Ganagour as we celebrate it, and it may differ from region to region. In some places idols of Ganagour and Isarji are worshipped whereas we perform the pooja on a wall painting.