Festivals in our country are quite plentiful. In all honesty, i find it quite appealing that the colours and variety of festivals across the states is the perfect representation of the abundance that nature and faith has given people for centuries. Talking about the diversity in festivals, one may instantly connect with Rajasthan – the land of history, conquest, beauty and hardships of life, architecture and valour, vigour and kingship.
Rajasthan is truly the land of festivals not because there are many, but because the strong character of every celebration. The colours, ambient mood, majestic locations make for gorgeous stock photography and experience while covering them. It has become one of the major triggers attracting a plethora of Instagrammers, Bloggers, content creators to come here. Tourism has flourished tremendously in the last decade or so.
Following the lead, I managed to get myself invited by this year’s Gangaur Festival celebration at Shahpura Haveli, wee 65 kms from the pink city of Jaipur.
A celebration of spring and harvest, where women dress up in their best jewelry and garments to pray for good fortune and welfare of their husbands, Gangaur 2018 was a treat to the eyes and senses. A group of Instagrammers were invited to witness the grand celebration at the Haveli, which has resumed its pomp after long 40 years.
There is a fascinating story behind the origin of the festival, just like any other religiously devotional stories. After Parvati won Lord Shiva’s heart through her unfailing devotion, she came back to her paternal home during Gangaur. She blessed her friends with marital bliss, which is what this festival signifies. The whole environment just came alive when the pious deities of Isar Maharaj & Gangaur Mata were regally taken around the streets, people were offering their prayers and devotion to the deities.
What I liked best was the fact that the women followed this celebrations so passionately, married or unmarried, to celebrate the piety of Gangaur Mata. Rani Ratnakumari Foundation, led by the honourable Rajmata Gunwant Kumari from the family of the erstwhile rulers of Shahpura for empowerment of women, brought back the festival to native Shahpura after a gap of 40 long years.
We attended a beautiful procession carrying the idols which was organised by the Royal family. In a city teeming with tourists and photographers from everywhere, it passed through the vivid markets of the town, and not to sound boastful but had an amazing camaraderie of horses, camels, traditional folk dancers, brass bands from Punjab, lancers etc. We were told that Gangaur is celebrated across Rajasthan but it has a special meaning to the natives of Shahpura. This year, Rani Ratna Kumari Foundation had organised a much grand procession as compared to the celebrations Shahpura has seen. Cultural events and felicitation ceremony at Shahpura were held in association with Rajasthan Tourism. It was truly a festive paradise. Being my first ever in Rajasthan, gangaur has left a very colourful impression both on my mind and my Instagram feed!
The festival has a charm to itself, despite being celebrated largely with the women fasting for long periods. However, the reason for associating with this particular celebration was due to the great work done by the royal family through the Rani Ratna Kumari Foundation, fondly known as RRKF India.
They are working towards a holistic development in the economic condition of the villagers through job creation for the women. Initiated and supported by the erstwhile rulers of Shahpura, RRKF promises to provide aid and support to the women who in turn can benefit from the revenue generated for the education of their kids. I think it is a great initiative and this festival adds to the many colours of truly empowering the society. We would definitely go back to this celebration again to experience more of the tradition, would you? Tell us in the comments!