Gowri Habba Celebrations, Rituals and Practices•
Posted on September 18 2023
Gowri Habba, also known as Gauri Habba, is a woman-centric festival that occurs in either August or September according to the Hindu calendar. The festival is majorly celebrated in the southern state of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh a day ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi in honour of Goddess Gauri. The festival is also celebrated in some North Indian states like Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh as Hartalika Teej. The goddess is believed to be the perfect epitome of beauty, feminity and purity and is believed to be the fair-complexioned incarnation of Goddess Parvati or Aadi Shakti Mahamaya.
The festival is celebrated with fervour from ladies of all walks of life and is associated with several traditions and rituals apart from paying obeisance to the goddess. These practices include installing idols of the goddess in shrines and homes, singing traditional songs, exchanging sweets and gifts and observing the Mangala or Swarna Gauri Vratam. They must be carried out with utmost dedication and sincerity. According to Hindu mythology, on Thadige or the third day of the Hindu Bhaadra month, Goddess Gowri pays a visit to Her parental home like any married woman and on the next day, Her son Ganesha comes over to take her back to Mount Kailash.
The celebrations take place over a span of three days. On the first day, the celebrations take place to mark the arrival of the goddess. She is worshipped the following day and offerings are made in the form of sweets, flowers and fruits as a token of reverence, love, gratitude and devotion towards the goddess. On the third day, Her idol is immersed in water along with the idol of Lord Ganesha. Gauri is believed to be the most powerful goddess and blesses Her devotees with valour, courage and power. Her arrival in homes is supposed to usher prosperity, wealth, health and happiness.
Mangala or Swarna Gauri Vratam
Married and unmarried women dress themes in grand or new traditional attire and set either an Arishinada-Gauri idol or a Jala-Gauri idol for the pooja. The idol is traditionally made of turmeric although clay idols are readily available. Married women seek the blessings of the goddess for a happy married life and for their husbands. On the other hand, unmarried ladies pray for a good life partner like Lord Shiva. Various rituals practised while observing the Vratam.
Lady members follow various rituals as part of following the vratam. They place the idol of the goddess on a brass plate with some uncooked cereal on it. The choice of cereal is usually either rice or wheat. They proceed to make a mandap around the idol.
Goddess Gowri is decorated with flower garlands, ornaments and a saree made of silk or cotton. The mandap is also decorated with mango leaves and banana stems as these represent symbols of austerity. The goddess is also offered a baagina comprising comprising items like vermillion, turmeric, a mirror, a comb, a blouse piece, a small cube of jaggery, black beads and bangles, green dal, toor dal and cereal.
After the decorations, women perform the Asthis pooja for the goddess. This pooja must be performed with utmost dedication and cleanliness. Once the pooja is over, 13 baaginas are distributed to married women. If it is not possible to distribute 13 baaginas, at least five packets are distributed. This is considered to be an interesting part of the celebrations associated with the festival.
Finally, married women request other family members to tie the Gauridaara on their right wrists as part of the vratam and blessings of the goddess. The Gauridaara is a sacred yellow thread with 16 knots. Each knot has its own significance and is worshipped with a mantra. Unmarried women also tie a similar thread but without any knots. This thread has 16 strands of cotton thread dipped in turmeric and have a yellow chrysanthemum looped through the thread.
Benefits of Gowri Habba Pooja
Performing the Gowri Habba Pooja whole heartedly has its own set of benefits. The pooja helps to improve the life of an individual both materially and spiritually.
- Married women are blessed with a happy and harmonious married life. On the other hand, unmarried lands are bestowed with peace of mind and a loving and caring life partner.
- The pooja helps its performers win over their opponents as well as gain an upper hand in legal battles.
- The pooja alleviates the negative or ill effects of manglik dosha in the horoscopes of women and girls with such horoscopes.
- The pooja brings wealth into the household and helps the family to clear pending debts and lead a debt-free life.
Food During the Gowri Habba Festival
On the occasion of Gowri Habba Festival, women members of the family usually prepare some dishes over others. These are offered to the goddess and later shared among family members and friends as prasad. One or more of the following items are usually consumed on this day.
- Chitrannam - This is a typical South Indian dish made using cooked rice and lime.
- Ambode – This is a type of masala vada made with channa dal.
- Tovve – This South Indian dish is made with toor dal and is also called Kattu Saaru.
- Kosambari – This is a salad made using cucumbers, coconut, curry leaves, soaked moong dal, lemon juice, mustard seeds, red chillies and salt.
- Semia Payasam – This is a sweet dish and is a kheer made using vermicelli.
- Rasam – This is a sour and spicy Indian soup.
- Kayi Holige – This is a flatbread with coconut, jiggery and cardamom stuffing.
- Murukku – This savoury dish is made with urad dal and rice flour. It is known as chakli in North India.
- Kayi Kadubu – This is a type of modak made with jiggery, rice flour, ghee, coconut and cardamom.
Tavaru Maneyavaru is another customary practice observed on the day of Gowri Habba. The parents and brothers (tavaru maneyavaru) of married women send them Gowri Habbada - Mangaladravya on this day. This is essentially a gift comprising all the items needed for the pooja and worship. Some family members send the money to buy these items. Newly-married ladies offer a bangle to the goddess and 16 pairs to other senior married women and seek their blessings in return. If newly-wed couples are staying away from their in-laws, they are called over and treated with festive food.
In olden days, newly-wed couples were allowed to consummate their marriage only on the day of Gowri Habba festival. The logic behind this is that Gowri Habba is a winter festival and if a woman conceives during this period, the child will be born during summer following nine months and be less susceptible to infections.
Written by - Deepthi K