Gangaur Pooja | Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan

This year, the main day of the Gangaur festival was on 13 April 2013.  Since the last two years in Texas, I celebrated it at someone's place who hosted the Gangaur pooja and pot luck lunch.  This year, fortunately I found someone here in California who did the same. 
Gangaur Pooja - Isarji and Gaurabai
I honestly do not know any of the rituals, stories, songs, and procedures for Gangaur pooja.  However, because I was asked by a reader to write about Gangaur - in this post, I have listed the basic Gangaur rituals that my mom wrote to me, and all that I have witnessed in the last 3 years.

gangaur pooja - year 2011
In Marwadi culture, unmarried girls as well as married women celebrate Gangaur festival and observe a fast on this day.  Young girls fast for Gangaur to get a good husband, and married women fast on this day to ... continue having a good husband.

Though, these days it is less common for young girls to fast on Gangaur – most would only do the puja.  The fasting for Gangaur actually starts 16 days before the main day, right from day after Holi.  Also, wheat is sowed in a small pot to grow into wheatgrass (see my video here how to grow wheatgrass at home) - which is used for the puja on the main day of Gangaur.
matching bangles to my saree...

The day before Gangaur is called ‘sinjara’.  The day before Teej or Karwa Chauth is also referred to as ‘sinjara’.  Women apply mehendi on hands, make good food, dress up beautifully, and usually get (demand) a gift from their husband.  We fast for them, after all, the least we deserve is a gift?  Unless other husbands are like mine, we get nothing.  This sinjaara, however, Alok came shopping with me for 40 minutes – THIS was his sinjara treat for me. 

Gangaur Puja is essentially the wedding of Isarji and Gaurabai – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, respectively.  On this day, just like on Teej, married women dress up well, adorn themselves with jewelry and make up, and basically do all the “suhaag shringaar”.  They also cook variety of dishes, observe a fast, and eat only once at lunch right after the Gangaur pooja.
gangaur festival - year 2012
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fal (or phal) for gangaur
Apart from halwa-puri, “phal” or “fal” are specially made for Gangaur to offer to God.

To make 16 “fal” for Gangaur, you need:

     ¾ cup aata (wheat flour)
     1 Tbsp oil/melted ghee
     scant ¼ cup sugar
     3 Tbsp water
     Oil to fry 

Fal Recipe: Mix sugar + water and keep aside for sugar to dissolve.  Mix flour + oil and rub together.  Then mix the sugar water to the flour mixture and knead to form a dough.  Use a little more water IF required, adding by a teaspoon.  The dough has to be firm, but not too firm; soft, but not too soft, and not overworked.  Keep dough aside, covered, for 20 minutes.

Heat oil on medium heat to fry the “fal”.  While oil heats up, divide the dough into 16 pieces.  Roll each piece of dough into a ball, press it on a surface while pinching from the top to resemble Hershey’s kisses.  Fry a batch of 8 “phal” at a time, stir occasionally for even frying on all sides, remove from heat when light brown and place on paper towel to drain excess oil.

Frying on high heat will make the “fal” soft the next day, frying on low heat will make them hard enough to break your teeth.  So, fry on medium.

Use these “fal” for Gangaur festival the next day.  Or you can divide this dough into 25 pieces like I did, make smaller “fal” for the Gangaur Puja, and reserve the rest to munch on for later.  Because these “fal” will keep well for 5-6 days.  You can easily double the recipe.  These are fried wheat flour sweet balls, basically, and can be made in various shapes and eaten as a snack with tea as well.

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During the Gangaur pooja, a poster/print out/hand drawn painting is stuck to the wall on which all Gangaur-related important things are drawn, plain white sheets of paper are stuck to the wall or kept on each side of the puja table, as well as idols of isarji and gaurabai (if available) are placed.
gangaur pooja

Puja is performed by first "daatan karaana" which means first offering a bundle of 8 small sticks to Isarji and Gaurabai representing brushing their teeth.  Then, roli/kuku (vermillion), chawal (rice), moli (red-yellow colored sacred thread), mehendi (henna), haldi (turmeric powder), and kajal (kohl) are applied and phool (flowers) are offered on the poster and on the idols.  Then, 16 dots each of kuku, haldi, mehendi, and kajal are put on the sheets of paper by each person doing the puja.

After that, 16 “fal” are offered to the God and placed in front, and then 8 “fal” out of the ones offered are picked up to eat later just before lunch.  Unmarried girls offer 32 “fal”, and married women who have done their “ujavna” offer 8 “fal”.  Halwa and puri is the usual “bhog” offered to the Gods.  During the entire pooja, songs for Gangaur are sung, and stories related to Gangaur are narrated.
wheatgrass for gangaur

After that, a paraat (wide plate) with water is filled and women sit around it facing God.  Women form pairs, take some wheatgrass from the roots in both their hands, each pair join their little fingers together, and dip the grass into and out of water together while reciting the “gour gour gomati, isar pooje parvati” for 16 times.  Those who have had their “ujavna” done perform this only 8 times. 

For the very first Gangaur after marriage, a woman usually fasts for the 16 days and does this main Gangaur puja at her mother’s place.  If it is not possible to fast for 16 days, at least on the main day of Gangaur the puja and fast is important.  I never did and never will be able to fast for 16 days.

ummm ... me ^_^
This was the question asked by a reader:
"Can you post how to celebrate gangaur? I'm a uni student and with limited resources I don't know what to do! Also, I'm unsure as to what I can eat! And I have questions like, as soon as it's midnight, can I start eating again or do I have to wait till the next morning?
Make a spusht post ASAP!!"

Here's what I think:
If you do not have the idols, print a picture of Lord Shiva and Parvati from internet.  If you cannot make 'fal', offer fruits to them.  If you cannot grow wheatgrass, just use grass from a lawn.  If you can cook kadhai ki puri, halwa, any sabji without onion and garlic - eat that for lunch and continue to fast the rest of the day.  You can also eat fruits rest of the day.  Basically the sunrise would mean a start of the next day and that's when you can start eating again.  For a student living alone away from home, Gangaur puja is more complicated than Teej puja.  Gangaur Puja has a lot of stories and chants to be recited.  If I were in your place I would just wish God a Happy Gangaur and have faith to get a good husband :-)

Because I am a bad example.  I used to observe a strict fast all day before my marriage to get a nice husband, but ever since I got married and got a great husband, I turned immoral.  Last year, I fasted until lunch, then ate pizza for dinner.  This year, I observed the fast until lunch again, but had dinner at Saravana Bhavan.

Sorry, God, I still hope my husband continues to be good...
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  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
    Really really appreciate it! Will defs pay a visit to this page every year for the next few years :)
    Love you <3

  2. Hi.I was also intrigued by this ritual after watching it in one the TV serials.This Saturday I saw some women doing this puja at the temple near my house.when I asked they said it was Gangaur puja.It seems Devi Gauri comes to her mayeka after Holi and on Gangaur day she is sent back to her sasural.

    1. Hey Shubha..Gangaur is the day when they (Isarji and Gaurade)get married and sent to sasural the next day after Gangaur(they give 'sheekh' on next day) Don't mean to correct u just sharing what I learnt :)

  3. Hey Nisha, its again me - Neha! This is also a sure winner and keeper! - Neha

  4. Hi. Came across this page while I was looking for info to impress my mom-in-law with.An inter-caste marriage necessitates reading up you see :)

    Thank you so much, this has been very helpful. Will keep coming back for more; I can totally relate to being a 'bad example' ;)

  5. wonderful post.. I agree with what you think (If you do not have the idols, print a pict..) and pretty much going to follow the same on my first Gangaur this year ..... :)
    Thank you so much for sharing

  6. My Son is researching on marwadi customs and your article came a s a big help to him..Thank you much...your many articles we have studied..blessing in disguise.


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