Gangaur Festival

Gangaur Festival

Quick Facts
Celebrated in : Rajasthan 
Festival Time : March 
Celebrated in : All Over Rajasthan. 
Deity : Consort of Lord Shiva 
Highlights : Devotion of Womenfolk and Grand Celebrations 

Gangaur Festival - A Festivity of Women
The Gangaur Festival is the colourful and most important local festival of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the state with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk during the months of July and August. During this festival, Goddess Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva is worshipped. The festival marks the celebration of monsoon, harvest and marital fidelity in Jaipur. This festival of Rajasthan is synonymous with Shiva and Gaur which stands for Gauri or Parvati who symbolises saubhagya (marital bliss). Gauri is the embodiment of perfection and conjugal love which is why the unmarried women worship her for being blessed with good husbands, while married women do so for the welfare, health and long life of their spouses and a happy married life. 

The festival commences on the first day of Chaitra, the day following Holi and continues for 18 days. For a newly-wedded girl, it is binding to observe the full course of 18 days of the festival that succeeds her marriage. Even unmarried girls fast for the full period of 18 days and eat only one meal a day. The ladies decorate their hands and feet by drawing designs with mehendi (myrtle paste). Ghudlias are earthen pots with numerous holes all around and a lamp lit inside them. On the evening of the 7th day after Holi, unmarried girls go around singing songs of ghudlia carrying the pots with a burning lamp inside, on their heads. On their way, they collect small presents of cash, sweets, jaggery, ghee, oil etc. This continues for 10 days i.e. upto the conclusion of the Gangaur Festival when the girls break their pots and throw the debris into a well or a tank and enjoy a feast with the collections made. 
 
Though celebrated throughout Rajasthan, the festival is a treat to watch in Jaipur and Udaipur. The festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer also. The procession to Pichola Lake is the spotlight of the Gangaur festival in Udaipur whereas the city of Jaipur wears a festive look all the time. The shops, houses and streets are beautifully decorated during this festival. The fair of 'lotias' is a distinctive feature of the Gangaur celebrations in Jodhpur. In Nathdwara, the procession of Gangaur lasts 7 days. The Girasia tribe, who live in Sirohi-Mount Abu region, celebrate Gangaur as a prolongation of festivities from Holi to Akshaya Tritiya - lasting for more than a month. In Banswara, the procession is taken out from the Zenana Deorhi to Singhvashi Chowk, both are areas within the palace compound. So, in this way its celebrated differently in various parts of Rajasthan. 

Holding a special meaning to the Rajasthanis, this festivity is celebrated in honour of Gauri, the goddess of abundance. Young girls embellished in their best clothes pray for a spouse of their choice. The married ladies pray for the welfare and long-life of their husbands. Singing and dancing is the main part of the festival. Girls worship the goddess right through the fortnight. 

Another unique thing about this festival is that on this occasion, tribal men and women have an opportunity to meet and interact freely and during this time, they choose partners and marry by eloping. In fact, running away is the only option for those of the tribe wanting to get married on this day. 

 

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Day 01 : Delhi
Arrive Delhi. Meeting & Greeting at airport. Transfer to hotel for overnight stay. 

Day 02 : Delhi - Jaisalmer
After breakfast sight-seeing tour to Delhi, which includes Jama Masjid - the largest mosque of Emperor Shahjahan, Red Fort, Raj Ghat- cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, to India Gate - a 42 meter stone arch built in the memory of the Indian Soldiers who died in World War II, Drive past the President's House & Parliament House, Humayun's Tomb, the Qutab Minar & Lotus Temple. Evening transfer to railway-station to connect train # 4059 DLI JSM Express dep. Delhi at 1800 hrs for Jaisalmer. Overnight on train. 

Day 03 : Jaisalmer
Arrive Jaisalmer at 1300 hrs. On arrival transfer to hotel. Afternoon, drive outside the city to see Amar Sagar Lake and to Sunset Point for a superb view of the city. In the evening visit Sam Dunes on camel back. Overnight at hotel. 

Day 04 : Jaisalmer
Full day free to visit the Desert fair by your own. The fair has snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. This desert festival of India closes with an enchanting sound and light show amid the sand dunes on a moonlit night. Though the festival is mainly a grand display of performing arts, there are several other events that give a glimpse of the desert culture. Exquisitely embroidered skirts, hand-woven shawls, rugs, carvings on wood and stone, camel decorations, embroidered leather bags, ethnic silver jewelry and terracotta can be bought at this desert fair. 
Evenings are meant for the main shows of music and dance. Continuing till late into the night, the number of spectators increases by each night and on the final day, under the full moonlit night, the whole place is swarming with people who make it a point to be there to witness this mega show. Overnight at hotel. 

Day 05 : Jaisalmer - Jodhpur
Full day at Fair. Later transfer to Railway-station to connect Train to Jodhpur by # 4809 JSM- JU Express Dep. Jaisalmer at 2315 hrs. Overnight at train. 

Day 06 : Jodhpur
Arrive Jodhpur at 0520 hrs. On arrival transfer to hotel. After breakfast full day city tour visiting the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, Mahamandir Temple and the Kailana Lake. Rest of the time is free for leisure. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 07 : Jodhpur - Ranakpur - Udaipur
Morning drive to Udaipur (259 kms / 6 hrs) en-route visit Ranakpur Temples. Ranakpur - 98 kms before Udaipur, the Jain Temples has grand structures and beautiful sculpture. There are 1444 pillars in the temple and none of them are similar. Arrive Udaipur and transfer to hotel. Evening boat ride at Lake Pichola (subject to water level) Overnight in Udaipur. 

Day 08 : Udaipur - Delhi - Onward Destination.
After breakfast, city tour visiting City Palace, Jagdish Temple, drive around Fateh Sagar Lake, Sahelion ki bari (Queen's resort for her friends) and Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandir (Folk art museum). Later in the afternoon transfer to Airport to connect flight for Delhi. On arrival at Delhi transfer to International Airport to connect flight for your onward Destination.

The Indian Festivals

Makar Sankranti, Return of the Sun to the North - This is the time of the year when the Sun enters Capricorn in the month of Magha (January-February). It's a time of great festivities throughout the nation with people taking a dip in the holy rivers and seas. In Gujarat particularly, it is the time to witness and extravaganza of Kite flying in what has become an International Kite Festival. 

Pongal -mainly held in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. A 3-days colourful Tamil harvest festival. 

Shiva Ratri, the Great Night of Shiva -Jubilated on the new moon night in the month of Phalguna (February-March), this Hindu festival is committed to Lord Shiva. 

Holi, The festival of colors -the most lively of all Hindu festivals, which falls on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun (March) according to the Hindu calendar. It heralds the end of the winter and the beginning of the spring and marks the rekindling of the spirit of life. This festival is also associated with legends of Lord Krishna. 

Ramanavami, the Birth of Lord Rama -This Hindu festival goes on for nine days where it is celebrated in the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (March-April) and commemorates the birth of Lord Rama who took birth to annihilate the demon King Ravana. 

Kumbha Mela -the oldest and most important of the Hindu festivals. It takes place every three years, at one of the four great holy cities - Nasik (Maharashtra), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Prayag or Allahabad and Haridwar (both in Uttar Pradesh). It is attended by millions of pilgrims who take a holy dip in the holy rivers. 

Hanuman Jayanti, the Birth of Lord Hanuman, the Monkey God - celebrates the birth of the monkey god, Hanuman, during Chaitra (March-April). 

Baisakhi -celebrated mostly in North India, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, this marks the Hindu Solar New Year. 

Pooram -celebrated in Trichur, in the State of Kerala, it marks the New Moon. The main feature of the festival is the spectacular sight of large number of elephants carrying ceremonial umbrellas going round the temple and the midnight fireworks display. 

Id-ul-Zuha - or Bakr-id -is a Muslim festival celebrated on a National level. It commemorates the martyrdom of Abraham and is marked by the sacrifice of lambs. 

Id-ul-Fitr -is a Muslim festival that marks the end of the month of Ramzan, a month long period of fasting. 

Raksha Bandhan -is celebrated mostly in North and West India. It's a legendary reenactment of sisters tying colourful 'rakhis' (bracelets or talisman) on their brother's wrists. 

Krishna Janmashtami, the Birth of Lord Krishna -Krishna Janmashtami falls during the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadra (August-September) and is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Krishna to bring an end to the injustice of Kansa. 

Ganesha Utsav -This is a ten-day festival, jubilated during the bright half of Bhadrapad (August - September), celebrates the birth of Ganesha. 

Dussehra( Vijay Dashmi), the trimph of good over evil - falling on the last day of Navaratri or Durga puja arrives in the month of October. Dussehra literally means that which takes away ten sins. This Hindu festival is celebrated all over India to mark the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama. Dussehra symbolises the triumph of good over evil. The 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day, larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother -Meghnath and Kumbhakarna, are set alight. 
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