Gowri Habba

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Gowri Habba (Kannada: ಗೌರಿ ಹಬ್ಬ) is a Hindu festival celebrated a day before Ganesh Chaturthi.

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 Thadige, or 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.

The Swarna Gowri vratha is performed on the occasion to appease the Goddess.

Swarna Gowri vratha rituals[edit]

On this day, married women, after bathing, wear new or smart clothes and dress up the girls of the family. Then they do the 'sthapana' of either jalagauri or arishinadagauri (a symbolic idol of Gowri made of turmeric). Beautifully painted and decorated clay idols of Goddess Gowri can be bought at the local market. The goddess' idol is mounted in a plate, with a cereal (rice or wheat) in it. As this 'puje' or ritual is to be performed with 'suchi' (cleanliness) and 'shraddhe' (dedication), the women go to temples or to another person's house, where it is performed according to set procedures or they can perform the ritual in their own homes.

A mandapa, generally decorated with banana stem and mango leaves, is built around the idol. The Gauri is decorated with garlands, decorations made of cotton, and women have a 'gauridaara' (sacred thread with sixteen knots) tied to their right wrists, as blessings of gauri and as part of the vratha. Each of the sixteen knots is worshiped with mantras during the performance of the religious practice.

An interesting part of the festival is offering the baagina. At least five baaginas are prepared as part of the vratha. Each baagina usually contains a packet of arshina (turmeric), kumkum, black bangles, black beads (used in the mangalsutra), a comb, a small mirror, baLe bicchoLe, coconut, blouse piece, dhaanya (cereal), rice, toor dal, green dal, wheat or rava and jaggery cut in a cube form. The baagina is offered in a traditional mora (winnow painted with turmeric). One such baagina is offered to Goddess Gowri and set aside. The remaining Gowri baaginas are given to the married women.

Gauri habbada mangaladravya[edit]

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. Newlymarried 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.

Customs[edit]

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.

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