Significance of Gauri Puja
The core of Hinduism is infused with the devotion of many a million believers who delve into festivals to worship and pay their respects to the Gods and Goddesses. The collective faith creates a strong sense of community which keeps the light of the religion alive in the soul of humanity.
India, the birthplace of Hinduism, is the torchbearer of Hindu festivals keeping the flame slive through the celebration of various pujas throughout the year. Gauri Puja, the worship of Goddess Gauri, the mother of Lord Ganesha, is one of such pujas, a very important one indeed.
The various rituals, customs, traditions, etc that make this festival so pure and pious will be touched upon in this article. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of them.
Significance of Gauri Puja:
According to a mythical tale, in ancient times when asuras used to harass people, married women prayed to Maa Gauri to save their husbands and families from the wrath of asuras. As per the story, the day when married ladies approached Mata Gauri for help, that day was Shudha Paksha Asthami of Bhadrapad month.
● Idols of Lord Shiva, Durga, and Ganesh
● Copper vessel for bathing the idol,
● Clothing and jewellery are to be offered to the deity statue.
● Haldi, Roli, Sandalwood Paste, Gangajal
● Rice, Kumkum, Deepak, Oil, Cotton, Dhoopbatti, Ashtagandha.
● Roses, flowers, Betel Leaves, and mango Leaves
● For offerings, fruits, milk, sweets, coconut, panchamrit, dry fruits, sugar, paan, Dakshina, and others
On the day of Gauri Pujan, after the muhurat of Gauri Avahan (beckoning of Goddess Gauri) begins, Gauri Mukhavta (Face of Gauri), or idol of Gauri is welcomed with fervour. In some households, the Gauri comes in pairs, depending on tradition. The idols are then dressed up in sarees, like a new bride. They are then adorned with traditional Maharashtrian jewellery. Devotees then offer naivaidya to the holy Goddess. They conduct a small puja inside the temple and offer even a new sari to the idol of Goddess Gauri.
Just like the Ganesh idol, the Gauri idol is brought one day before Gauri Pujan or along with the Ganesh idol. Gauri is brought home in form of an idol or a simple image on paper. In Maharashtra, most families bring Gauri idols but in some villages near Maharashtra people prefer to worship an image of Goddess Gauri. Most of the Maharashtrians bring the Gauri idol exclusively during Gauri Pujan day during Ganesh Chaturthi. Some people bring an image of Goddess Gauri on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi itself.
It is believed by most of the devotees that the holy rays come out of the Gauri image or idol during the period of Gauri Pujan which puts end to suffering. Gauri Pujan also brings prosperity and well-being to mankind. Some people also worship the images of Lord Shiva and Goddess Gauri during Ganesh Chaturthi. This is done with the view of paying respect to the parents of Lord Ganesh.
Dressing up the idol:
If the devotees bring the idol they drape the idol with a very fine and colorful sari. The devotees also decorate the idol with jewelry like green bangles, mangalsutra, nose-ring, necklaces, etc. mangalsutra, and green bangles are the most important pieces of jewelry which Hindu married women wear. Goddess Gauri is also offered a hairband of flowers known as Veni in Marathi which is worn on the backside of the head. Devotees also offer garlands to Goddess Gauri.
Gauri Pujan requires the leaves and flowers of a specific plant. It also requires systematic Puja to be done by inviting a Pujari at home. Performing Aarti is also necessary during Gauri Pujan. After the systematic Puja is performed all the women visit each other’s houses to offer coconut, a piece of cloth, flowers, bananas, rice, and even new saris to the idol of Goddess Gauri.
All the women wear new saris and all the traditional jewelry on this day. On the night of Gauri Pujan, all the women gather together and sing Mangala Gauri songs. These songs have a traditional base and reflect the lifestyle of Hindu married women. Males do not take part in this function. This occasion is considered important in the life of a newly married Maharashtrian woman as her first Mangala Gauri.
Gauri Visarjan is done immediately the next day of Gauri Pujan. It is done along with Ganesh Visarjan on the sixth or seventh day of Ganesh Chaturthi. Before Gauri Visarjan Aarti is performed and the Prasad of cooked rice mixed with curd and cooked fenugreek leaves is offered to the idol. This Prasad is then distributed amongst the devotees as the blessings of Goddess Gauri.
A significant part of the enormous spectrum of festivities in India, Gauri puja imbibes the cultural heritage and family values that we as Indians are proud of. The entire state of Maharashtra blends in the festive mood of Ganesh Chaturthi with the devotion of Gauri Puja and the entire week is celebrated with togetherness which dazzles in the streets and in the eyes of every Maharashtrian.