Devi Parvathi is worshipped throughout our country in different forms. Durga pooja, Navaratri, vijaya dashami, are all festivals celebrating devi parvathi in her glorious form repressing win of good over evil.
In South India festival of Swarna Gowri Vratam is famous and celebrated on the 3rd day (Thadige) in the month of Bhaadrapada. Swarna means ‘gold’ and in this festival, Goddess Parvati is worshipped in her beautiful, pleasant form. Devi is imagined with a golden complexion and worshipped.
After the pooja, women exchange ‘Bagina’– bamboo 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.
All the items required for the preparation of food are kept in bagina. It is believed that what we offer wholeheartedly will return back in form of punya. Our festivals have practices with deeper meaning. Married women used to travel distances in earlier days to reach their parents home. Travel used to take days together. Hence the items in bagina would be used to prepare their meal while traveling. It was called ‘Patheya’.
Women perform the pooja at their maternal homes as a mark of respect and gratitude to their parents. Their brothers offer them good clothes, dakshine(money), bangles which all signifies that even if she has left her home, but the bond remains intact and strong as ever.
After the pooja , the next day, Ganesha festival is celebrated. Ganesha has come to take his mother to Kailasa from her parents home. 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 worshipped idol is immersed in water along with Lord Ganesha’s idol.
Offering udi is a representation of wishing all the prosperity and abundance of happiness to the daughter.
The story behind swarna gowri festival:
Parvati undertook a severe penance to win over the love of Lord Shiva. She did the penance for 16 years, during which She survived only on roots and fruits. Lord Shiva pleased with Her penance finally came out of his samadhi and married Goddess Parvati. This is also one of the reasons for married women performing the Puja for 16 years.
Shanmukha, the son of Lord Shiva asked His father to narrate a Vratha that could be observed by everyone and which would bestow progeny, prosperity and bliss. Lord Shiva narrated the story to Shanmukha and explained the significance of observing swarna gowri vratha.
There once lived a King, Chandraprabha who was ruling Vimalapura, a city on the banks of the Saraswathi River. He was a just king and All his subjects lived happily under his rule. He had two wives. He loved his first wife, the most.
One day, the King entered a dense forest for hunting. He killed several wild animals such as boar, lion etc. He was tired and was feeling thirsty too. He went in search of water. He saw a pond nearby and descended from his horse to take some water. He saw some women offering Puja near the pond. Curious about the Puja, he asked one of the women about the Puja they are performing and its significance.
The women said that the Vratha is known as Swarna Gauri Vratha and by performing the Vratha, all the wishes would be bestowed. It was Bhadrapada Shukla Trithiya. The women explained the rituals associated with the Puja. The king was very happy to hear the story. He performed the Vratha with great devotion and tied the sacred thread on his right wrist and came back to his palace.
The king explained about the Vratha to both his wives. The first wife was not happy with king performing some pooja, she snatched the thread from his right wrist and threw it on a nearby plant which had dried up.
After some days, fresh leaves began to grow from the dried plant. Such was the power of the ‘dora'(the sacred thread). The king’s second wife was happy to see life in the dried plant. She understood the importance of that thread, She took it from the plant and tied it to her wrist and performed the Puja to goddess parvathi. She was blessed with wealth and prosperity and love of the King.
The first wife, due to her ignorance about the Vratha had to leave the palace. She roamed in forests and had to undergo untold sufferings. As her suffering became unbearable, she wept inconsolably. Goddess Parvati appeared before her and consoled the queen. The queen realised her mistake and performed Swarna Gauri Vratha with all devotion. Goddess Gauri bestowed happiness and love of her husband. Both the King and the queen lived happily.
The story signifies the power of devotion. We may have all the comforts of life. But it is all because of blessing of the God. We should never forget that. Being devoted to devi will bestow unending happiness.
In today’s busy and materialistic world,the festivals are means by which whole family come together. The celebration clears of any differences between them. God never asks for any costly offering. We have heard story how Radha’s simple offering of a flower was enough to match the weight of Shri Krishna. So celebrating festival is not a matter of expenses. It is all about reviving our faith in the God and accepting with humility, that we human beings are no match to the supreme power.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth