Gangaur is one of the many pious festivals of India that signify the purity of love and devotion and the eternity of marriage. ‘Gana’ is the name of Lord Shiva while Goddess Parvati is known as ‘Gauri’- Gangaur symbolizes the unison of these two superpowers. This 18 day long revelry is mainly concentrated in the state of Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana- places that have a huge population of people belonging to the Marwadi community.
The story behind Gangaur
Folklore says that Gangaur is all about honoring the devotion of Goddess Parvati, who, through intense meditation won the heart of Lord Shiva. After successfully completing her meditation, Gauri came back to her parents’ house for 18 days and was later taken away by her husband.
Gangaur celebrations across the country
Puja- fasting- folk music, dancing and community gatherings- every festival in India has these basic ingredients and Gangaur is no exception. Married women fast for the longevity of their husband’s lives while unmarried girls fast with the desire to have a good life partner. Vivid idols of Gauri and Shiva are decorated and worshipped. Cultural fairs accentuate the enthusiasm of the festival- Gangaur melas are colorful events- one can shop beautiful handicrafts, handloom saris and other traditional outfits as well as artifacts, while indulging in local delicacies and fun activities like games for kids.
Attire for Gangaur
Sarees– colourful, traditional symbols of Indian culture and rituals- are an inevitable part of the festive attire for Gangaur. Women, even young girls and teenagers enthusiastically drape themselves in lustrous silks, traditional weaves and other lush finery. Much like sarees, lehengas are also very popularly worn during gangaur – especially by unmarried or soon to be married girls. In states of Rajasthan, Bandhani and leheriya lehenga cholis are much loved and can be seen aplenty during this festivals. Suits, though, not very popular are now an important part of the women’s closets during all festivals, including Gangaur – where girls and younger married women can be seen in Anarkalis and Straight suits with heavy dupattas, during rituals and pooja ceremonies.
Adding to the festive paraphernalia are the multitude of chunky trinkets, including metallic jewellery and dozens of bangles! Mehendi or henna – the paste of myrtle leaves – is also applied on palms, decorated in intricate designs – routinely during this festivals.
Here, we enlist some of the important considerations taken into account, while selecting the attire for a variety of rituals, during and towards the end of this festival.
Dark tones of red- vibrant shades of orange- pretty pinks- gorgeous greens and yellow blends- there are plenty of colours that are symbolic of auspiciousness. With so many options in the cultural palette- you can just go and indulge- be colourful! Green, by the way, is one of the most loved hue during this festive time, and so are various shades of red.
Traditional Patterns or Prints
Bandhani and leheriya patterns are innate to the looms of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and therefore these details are often spotted at all major festivals in these parts of India, including Gangaur. Bandhani sarees and leheriya sarees with gota patti work are timeless ethno-classics which are worn with love and pride by women of all ages. You can buy a real Bandhani saree or Lehenga with Bandhani dupatta, if spending for the main ritual is on agenda. Otherwise, you can choose more price friendly printed variations with these details. Anarkalis in Patola or Bandhani prints or fabrics are also quite in vogue, should you wish to stick to more convenient dressing options.
As you carry the gorgeously decked-up idols of Gauri and Shiva, match up with their aesthetics with beautifully embroidered sarees. Lace borders with bead hangings give an attractive edging to the ‘ghunghat’. Shimmers-mirrors- resham dhaaga work- zardozi- conspicuous appliques- this is the time to be flashy, forget those elegant plain sarees and go with the flow of being an ostentatious traditional woman. For a chic touch to embellished traditional dresses, you can go for sarees, dupattas or designer blouses with tassles or trendy cut-dana hanging along borders.
Coming to blouses or cholis, this is one aspect of your dress where you can experiment a lot. And, change the entire look and feel of your garment. For an entirely traditional appeal, stick to embellished net lehenga cholis in single hues, as they are back in fashion. Then, you can also try brocade lehenga sets, which do not have much embroidery – rather they are made in heavy base fabric itself. Banarasi lehenga cholis are quite popular for Gangaur and other such festivals as gifting options too. A mother in law can gift a lehenga with a designer blouse to her soon-to-be daughter in law too.
Outfit ideas for unmarried girls
The idea of fasting for your soul-mate is indeed a beautiful feeling. Even little girls, following in the foot-steps of their moms, fervently take part in each and every ritual of Gangaur, while dressing up like ethnic dolls! At this age, some of you might not be comfortable with the idea of wearing heavy silks and extremely crowded ensembles- you can stick to printed georgette sarees with lace border or half-and-half sarees with embroidered pallu.
Lehenga sarees are another majestic option for the ones who find draping a saree too cumbersome a task. They look stylish as well as regal, and are relatively easier to move around in. Pre-stitched sarees too can be opted for!
Then there are the trusty old lehenga choli sets – which are available in a maddening variety of colors, styles, prints, patterns and price points. You can go for light, no or low embellishment lehengas, ones in cotton base to counter the heat or the ones with lightly embroidered borders. Printed or floral lehengas are also quite in vogue and so are lehenga suits – where you can team a boho skirt or net lehenga with a mid lenth kameez. Sharara suits are also another dressy, ethnic option for Gangaur themed meet-greets and parties
Outfit ideas for newly married girls
Are you celebrating your first Gangaur after wedding? Here are a few suggestions for you –
Live your bridal moments again in a stunning red saree. Apart from being highly captivating, red colour is also an integral part of every Hindu ritual. Adorn yourself with traditional ornaments- rich Kundan jewellery and a heavy maang tika; be an enchanting newly married bride!
Let the blush on your cheeks stay intact with shades of pink- bright and full of cheerful spirit. Purple tones can be added to accentuate your feminine charm- don’t forget to add a lot of ornaments for complete prettiness!
If you feel a saree will weigh you down, you can also choose a lehenga choli for your first after-wedding gangaur. Since you are a new bride, why not choose a traditionally rich culturally symbolic lehenga set – like a Panetar or Gharchola inspired one. Or, you can go for a rich maroon or orange all-over Bandhani lehenga choli too.
Gangaur is a lively and colourful occasion, go with the flow and don your ethnicity with merriment!