Swarna Gowri Vratam or Gowri Habba
It is a significant festival in parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It is known as Hartalika in the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Ma Goddess Gowri (Gauri), the mother of Ganesha and wife of Shiva, is worshiped throughout India for her ability to bestow upon her devotees courage and power. Hindu belief has it that Goddess Gowri is the very incarnation of Aadhi Shakthi Mahamaya. She is the Shakthi of Lord Shiva. It is believed that on the third day of the month of Bhaadra, Goddess Gowri comes home like any married woman comes to her parents’ house. The next day Lord Ganesha, her son, comes as if to take her back to Kailasa.
Hindu women observe Swarna Gowri Vrata for the well-being of their husbands and for a peaceful and prosperous life. Unmarried women observe if for getting a good husband.
Swarna means ‘gold’ and in the ritual a golden image of Goddess Parvati is worshipped along with Shivling. In many regions a clay idols of Goddess Gowri and Lord Ganesha is worshipped on this day. It is later immersed in a pond.
It is believed that Goddess Parvati comes to earth to answer the prayers of married and unmarried women during Swarna Gowri Vratam. On the same day women in North India observe the Hartalika Teej Vrat which is also dedicated to Goddess Parvati.
When to observe?
Gowri Habba, or Ganesh Gowri Festival, is observed during the Ganesh Chaturthi, or Vinayaka Chaturthi Festival in Karnataka. Gowri Habba 2014 is on 28th August, Thursday. On this day, Goddess Gowri (Parvathi) is worshipped. The ritual and observance is held on the third day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) in Bhadrapad month as per traditional Kannada calendar.
The important legend associated with Gowri Habba is that of the birth of Ganesha. It is believed that Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati from her own body. She asked her son to guard the doors of the house and went to take bath. Shiva appeared there and was stopped by the boy. Shiva did not recognize the boy and after few heated arguments and Shiva in a fit of anger chopped off the head of the boy. Soon Goddess Parvati arrived at the scene and demanded that her son be brought back to life. Shiva brought Ganesha back to life by placing the head of an elephant instead of the human head. Gowri Habba is celebrated as the power of Goddess Gowri.
In another legend, importance of Swarna Gowri Vratam was narrated to Lord Muruga by Lord Shiva. Parvati wanted to marry Lord Shiva but Shiva was in no mood to reciprocate her love as he was mourning the death of Sati. Parvati was determined to win the love of Lord Shiva. So, she started intense austerities in a forest, surviving on grass and fruits. Parvati continued this intense ‘tapas’ for long sixteen years. Finally, Lord Shiva was moved by Parvati’s intense devotion and love and married her.
How to perform Gowri Habba puja?
Gowri Habba puja is the most observed vratha in Karnataka. In Kannada Habba means the festival and the name suggests the vratha or the puja to Goddess Gowri. On Gowri Habba, women observe strict fast.
On the Swarna Gauri Vratam day, the house is cleaned thoroughly. After bathing married women and young girls in the family dress up neatly. A small temporary shrine is erected using banana leaves and banana stem. This is decorated with mango leaves, turmeric, tulsi and sandalwood paste.
The first and foremost step in Gouri puja is installation of Gauri idol. The Gauri idol made of turmeric is referred as Arshinagauri. On Gowri Habba, either Jalagauri or Arshinagauri is worshipped. The indigenous method is to make an idol of Gowri with turmeric. Nowadays, people opt for the readymade idols of Goddess Gowri which is available in market. Some people opt for the family owned Swarna or gold idol of Gowri.
The idol of Gowri, which is decorated neatly with clothes, is placed on a bed of rice or wheat or other cereals. Some people place a Shivling and Ganesha idol along with the idol of Parvati. Flowers and green leaves are mainly used to decorate the idols. Some people also opt for a Purna Kumbh. A mirror is placed along with the idol. The Goddess is showered with many pooja items like flowers, leaves, kumkum, turmeric powder & 16-lined “Gejjevastra“(made of cotton).
A 16-knotted thread ‘gauridaara’ is prepared for the puja and some people tie it on their hands (Perhaps indicating the 16 long years of intense austerities performed by Goddess Parvati to obtain Lord Shiva as husband).
Bagina is a major part of the Gowri Habba festival. To make the puja successful, at least 5 baginas are prepared. Special puja plates or thalas with various puja items known as ‘bagina’.The pooja thala or plate consists of turmeric, kum kum, a mirror, bangles, comb, various cereals, coconut, fresh cloth, rice, jaggery, the 16 knot thread, 16 different leaves and fruits. Some people prepare just one pooja thala for Goddess Parvati. Some prepare several ‘bagina’ and distribute among married women. (The number of items used for bagina varies from region to region.)
Bagina are prepared with packet of turmeric, a small mirror, black bangles, coconut, a comb, bale bicchoLe, kumkuma, black beads, blouse piece, dhaanya, rice, green dal, tur dal, wheat or rava and jaggery, which is cut in a cube form. These baginas are distributed to the married women. Married women’s parents send the items of Gowri Habba to them. On the occasion of the Gowri Habba, the newly married women are invited to their in-laws home and are served various delectable festive delicacies.
The main puja ceremony involves bathing the idol in milk, ghee, curd, honey and water. Some people only perform the simple Aarti and sing bhajans.
Then the prepared bagina is offered to Gowri and people recite the prayers dedicated to Parvati or the special phrases used during the occasion like ‘Savitri, Savitri, Bagina Tagoo.’ While taking away the bagina repeat the same prayers or say ‘muthiyadae, mutiyadae bagina kodu.’
Various dishes are prepared on the day especially rice dishes.
It is believed that by performing this puja unmarried girls will get good husbands and married women will have a healthy and peaceful family life.
In some areas, people immerse the Turmeric idol along with Ganesha. (Gowri Habba is followed by Ganesh Chaturthi).
Gauri habbada mangaladravya
Another specialty of this festival is that the ‘tavaru maneyavaru’ (the married woman’s parents and brothers) send gauri habbada mangaladravya to the married women of their family. Some send money as a substitute for mangaladravya. This good practice remains unchanged and keeps people closer. Newly married women give sixteen jothe baagina to sumangalis (married women) and obtain their blessings. One baagina is kept for Gauramma. The main food items in this festival’s feast are the delectable beLe hoLige/Kaayee-hoLige, Huggi/chitranna and Bajji.
Newlywed couples are invited to the house of their in-laws and served with festive food. In the olden days, newlywed couples had to wait till Gowri Habba to consummate their marriage. The logic behind this practice is that if a child is conceived during Gowri Habba, which falls during the winter, the child would be born nine months later, during the summer, when it would be less prone to infections. This practice has been in place for years but has declined in recent times due to modernisation.
Delicious food is prepared on this day and offered to the goddess. Dishes like Chitranna (colored rice), Payasa (pudding), Kayi Holige (sweet bread stuffed with coconut mixture), Tovve, Saru /Rasam, Kayi Kadabu, Palya (Vegetable dish), Kosambari (salad) and Ambode or bhajji (deep fried fritters) are prepared and relished together by everyone at home.
After the Pooja, women excahnge decorated bamboo plates (mora) filled with nine types of grain (navadhanya), along with Jaggery, bangles, turmeric, a blouse piece, kumkum, betel leaves, fruits and nuts and dakshina/money. Women perform the pooja at their maternal homes as a mark of respect and gratitude to their parents.
The next day, Gowri is given a warm visarjana / send off by offering Udi (offering all the sacred items like Turmeric, Flowers, Vermilion, Blouse piece, Rice, Betel nuts and leaf, Turmeric root and dry Coconut) and the clay idol is immersed in water along with Lord Ganesha’s idol.
According to Puranas, Gowri Vratam will bestow wealth and worldly wellbeing to the people who observe it. Legend has it that the ‘Vrata’ is so powerful that even a dry tree will turn green after its observance.
It is believed that unmarried women performing Swarna Gauri Vratam will get good husbands and married women will have a peaceful and happy married life.
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