Gauri Pooja and Ganesha Chathurthi

Ganesha Festival is one of a kind in Hinduism.  It’s when mother and son are worshipped together.

The other name for Goddess Parvati (also known as Lakshmi or Mahalaxmi), the mother of Ganesha, is Gauri.  There are many different interpretations of the festival which changes from households to localities, however no matter where the festival, the Goddess is worshipped with full devotion.  In our family home, the Goddess is welcomed home a day before Ganesha Chathurthi.

My family deity is Mahalakshmi and the temple that we pray at is the Kolhapur temple.

New laws was enacted allowing women (for the first time in over 2000 years) to entire the temples proper and touch the feet of the statue of Mahalakshmi as well as enter to perform puja.  While many derided it, many more (women) devotees were glad to hear the news that they would finally be able to pray at the feet of their family Goddess.

Devotees believe that bringing home Goddess Gauri will bring them wealth and prosperity. Some regions consider Gauri Pooja as upasana of Goddess Lakshmi.

In our family, the Gauri Festival is celebrated on the seventh, eighth, ninth of Bhadrapada Shukla paksha.  Although we keep it for five days total, the actual prayer and puja is only for those three days.  The day before and the day after are considered preparation for us to welcome the arrival and leave taking of Gauri.  She is worshipped as the goddess of harvest and protectress of women.  We have three bronze vessels that hold the grains important to our household.

Goddess Gauri is kept and worshipped for three days – first day is the avahana, and this is when the Goddess is brought into the home.  The preparations for Gauri pooja are made in the same way as Ganpati, married women within the house mark footsteps of Goddess by using Rangoli (colorful powder) and then the idol of Goddess Gauri is brought home.  This year, Aai asked me to mark the footsteps of Goddess into the home.  It’s a simple and artistic task which helps you focus on the reason behind the ritual and to become closer to the Goddess.

In our family, Gauris arrive in a pair, one as Jyeshta (the Elder one) and another as Kanishta (the Younger one).  The vessels that hold the grain are also the base for the Gauris “bodies” and their head is placed on top of these bodies after a puja to welcome them.  That evening, the married ladies in the home ‘dress’ Gauri in a new Sari and adorn her with wedding jewelry, mangalsutra, nose ring, toe rings, bangles and earrings.  This year, Aai also gave me one of the Gauri to dress in Sari and jewelry.  This very special for me, especially since everyone knows my poor sari wrapping skills!  Here is the Gauri that I dressed:

Here is the one Aai dressed:

The next day is Satyanarayan puja which is a puja that most families use before or during any major occasion.  While it can be used on any day for any reason, in our family the puja is used for special occasions and during times of achievements as an offering of gratitude to the Lord.

Then at mahurat (auspicious timings), Naivedya (offering) is presented before Goddess and the ritual is followed by singing aarti (holy song) and praying to Goddess for health, wealth, success and prosperity.

There are many sweets to be eaten on this day.  Aai prepares the special food that we serve to the Goddess’ first.  Everyone leaves the room to give the Goddess’ peace and quiet.  Then we return and it is the men, children and guests turn to eat.  Afterwards, the ladies eat.

On the third day our family hosts Haldi Kumkum as well as this being the day that Gauri and Ganesha are immersed in water (this is our family’s tradition).  This year Bear and I had to leave the morning of the immersion, so we missed this.

However, last year we did this with Baba at a local Mumbai park which was dedicated for Pooja and Immersion during Ganesha Chathurthi.  We carefully carried our Ganesha near to the river and performed a pooja.  Then we brought out Ganesha to the dais and received blessings from a Guru.  Then our Ganesha idol was immersed into the river with hundreds of other’s with many of us standing on the banks shouting “Ganpati Bappa Morya!”

Later that day,  Aai hosts a Haldi Kumkum ceremony where married ladies are invited into our home, given sweets and a gift as well as being sprinkled with rose water, having perfume applied to their wrists and then Haldi Kumkum is applied to their foreheads.  The ladies spend time chatting while the men hide in another room.

That evening, the family immerse Gauris and perform the final pooja for the Goddess.  After the pooja, the idols are loving packed and put away for the next year.  The jewelry is stored in a locked cabinet.  The sari’s are given to Aai and Vahini (I am given a special Kurta that has been displayed with the Gauris).  And the dais and decorations are put away.

The fifth day (next day) the family rests and eats light foods while trying to avoid travelling or strenuous work.

How does your family celebrate Ganesha Chathurthi and Gauri Pooja?  If you don’t celebrate these, what is your favorite family tradition or holiday?

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11 thoughts on “Gauri Pooja and Ganesha Chathurthi

  1. how can govt interfere with running of hindu temple they dont do that with muslim or christian affairs (afraid they will lose their minority vote bank)

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  4. Ganpati bappa Morya.
    Have you seen Ganesh chaturti by ‘GSB seva mandal’ , one of the biggest Ganpatis. Some my relatives are member of seva mandal,. So i have heard about the Grand festival .:-)

  5. Hi Vahini!

    GANPATI BAPPA MORAYA!

    “However, last year we did this with Baba at a local Mumbai park which was dedicated for Pooja and Immersion during Ganesha Chathurthi.”

    WHERE in Mumbai?
    You in Mumbai? 😮

    “The other name for Goddess Parvati (also known as Lakshmi or Mahalaxmi), the mother of Ganesha, is Gauri.”

    I thought Goddess Lakshmi is the wife of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Parvati is the wife of Lord Shiva. 😉

    Its sweet reading about how you take so much care, interest and love in celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi and Gauri.

    My family is too busy to invite the Lord and the Goddess at our home, so we involve and take part as much as we can in our society’s Sarvajanik Ganpati.
    Aai makes some really tasty modaks that we always keep as prasad for the devotees who come here!
    Not to mention, I love the modaks a lot and half of that stock has to be surrendered in front of me for proper um…. inspection and t(as)esting.

    I make it a point to visit my friends who invite the Lord to their homes in that one day holiday I am given.
    Earlier, every year my friends and I used to travel the entire breadth of Mumbai and try to visit every prominent Sarvajanik Mandals, especially those of Khetwadi and Lalbaug.

    The beauty of Lord Ganesha is His sheer versatility of Form, Shape and Perception and the same applies on how one celebrates the festival.
    Some, like your family go into detailed and elaborate rituals and pujas while some simply do the Aarti twice a day and bid adieu to the Lord only to welcome the Lord the next year.

    Then, there are some who also offer meat to Gauri Aai since she is also Tulja Aai and Aai Bhavani and Kaali Aai.

    The entire festival holds a magical feel for me, in Mumbai.
    With the Shraavan month at an end, the monsoons at a retreat and yet, the sky is cool grey, the atmosphere is cool, the colours seem more bright and the chants of the Aartis all the more magical and connect directly to the Soul.

    A Truly Wonderful and Enriching Ten Days.

  6. Such a sweet post GR ! Even though I grew up knowing most of the above information, reading it here in the simplified way that you described it really was nice.
    Ganeshotsav is indeed a very special festival, especially in maharashtra…I am a maharashtrian myself, my husband is a maharashtrian brahmin (Deshastha-I dunno if you know the sub caste system but that’s what he is …LOL) I think the rituals and the way it is practices changes from community to community and family to family…
    It seems like your husband’s family has quite an elaborate version of the festival. I know my husband’s paternal aunt’s and some others who do have the gauri-ganesh whole shebang, for the full ten days…In our home i.e my in-laws we only have the ganesh idol for two days, or a day and half actually….I asked my father in law why it was such, and he said that it is believed that keeping the idol for any longer duration was not benificial for our family, as some ancestors had bad luck upon doing so…anyway, there’s no way to check this information, it’s just hearsay, but as a result, we have it for two days, the first day the family guruji (priest) comes over in the morning, and does the sthapana ( arrival) pooja, we all fast till the pooja is done, then after the pooja, there is a huge feast, we call near and dear ones for prasad and darshan, the whole day there is a steady line of people coming through for darshan, then at night there is a big aarti with all family and friends, after which there is a big dinner…earlier my mom in law used to do this , but lately she started outsourcing it and having a cook and helper come over and prepare the whole food….that’s the best part about India, is one can find cheap hired help anywhere anytime… 🙂
    The next day we again have the guruji come over and perform the visarjan pooja, after which there is the last aarti and we all leave for visarjan with a heavy heart…
    It’s been many years since hubby and I have been home attending a ganesh chaurthi celebration, I think the last time was in 2006 or 2007, and that itself was after a gap of three years…so lately we haven’t attended any….if we are in India then we do attend all our friends’ and relatives’ ganeshes, my hubbys aunts have a huge celebration almost like a small wedding every year, and that’s really fun to attend, but I’m sure it’s tiring to do that each year.

    In the US or here in Canada, we don’t have the idol at home, coz since hubby’s parents still have it at their home, there can’t be two idols in the same family, so no idol, we normally just do a pooja and aarti and prepare a feast-naivedya for lord ganesha , ofcourse modaks, and other goodies, and that’s about it….

    I do miss the ganesh celebration at home, but what I miss most, is just the festivities around us during that period, my actual favorite activity is to go pandal hopping and look at all the biggest sarvajanik (community) celebrations, and look at the gigantic idols and decorations on display, here we don’t even know it’s ganesh festival time…and that does make me sad sometimes…I did attend the local marathi association celebration here, and that was like a consolation prize, but not like the real deal….
    Your post made me a little nostalgic, sorry for rambling so long…lol..

    • Hi Anjali!

      Ah….old Marathi friends back together again! Poor Sharell, wonder if she ever figured it all out! 😉

      Yep, my husband is also Deshastha Brahmin, so I know what you mean! And you are absolutely right in that the traditions change not just from regions but also within households! A neighbor of my PIL is also Deshastha Brahmin however they do not use the figurines, they use coconuts to represent the Goddess. ::shrugs::

      I’m glad that my post brought back memories for you but really bummed if they made you painfully nostalgic. Last year I would have told you that I’m not going to miss the noise and crush of people one little bit, but after going through it again this year I can say that I will miss the other things that go with it. The laughter, the beauty, the sense of community, the fun, the gorgeous and different pandals all vying for attention, the music (played lower this year thank GOD) and the food that everyone wants you to “just taste”. I really enjoyed it this year more than last. I think that this time of year is the time when I’ll most want to visit India when once we move back to the states.

      HEY! And thanks for pointing out to me that we won’t be able to have the idols in the US. I really didn’t know that. It never struck me that my SIL doesn’t have it at her home and I just thought we didn’t because it’s so close and we just go to Aai and Baba’s house. HUH! Well, relief is washing over me I must say. I was scared that I would have to do all that cooking and decorating and sari wrapping and pooja preparing on my own! PHEW! But bleck….in a way I kinda of wanting to do it too. 😉 Silly yes?

      Sincerely, even here I get homesick for the way we celebrate Christmas and Halloween and St. Patty’s Day and all other’s back home…..but I try to have my own little version here or do things to bring home with me and that takes some of the burden off. But really? You just can’t replace those things that you knew and grew up with can you? >:D<

      • Hey GR…

        Lol yes poor sharell, out numbered by the marathi mandal…lol..

        Yup, you are right some people use coconuts, etc to represent the figurines, hinduism is wierd religion, there’s just no standardization in any of the practices anywhere, the rituals change from door to door…lol..

        The post did make me nostalgic, but not painfully, more like in a bitter sweet way.. 🙂
        I hear you about the change in attitude about the chaos….I used to complain about all those things traffic problems, blaring music, etc when I lived in India too, only after I moved out and the ganapati time was greeted by deafening silence in the US, did I realize that I had actually become accustomed to that madness, and since it was gone, I missed it……the funny part about nostalgia is that we have a selective memory, we remember the good but forget about the parts we disliked…lol..

        Oh, yea, you don’t have to do it as long as your in-laws are doing it, but be prepared, one day when they can’t do it anymore, they may ask you guys to continue the tradition, it’s supposed to be the son who carries the tradition, coz he has the same last name, so he’s the same family, or some other stupid reason like that…but yea, unless you have a brother in law, who can take it over instead of you guys, you may have to get stuck with it…I know I’m living in mortal fear of that day, when the axe falls on us…lol…not really but you know what I mean…I’m not at very religious, and so any rituals that ‘have’ to be done, make me nervous…but ganpati is an exception, coz i have a fondness for the festival, but still worry about the volume of work that comes with it…. :D..have I mentioned I’m lazy too ??

        I can totally relate to you missing thanksgiving and christmas in India, I’ve lived only about 7 years or so in the US, and do have some activities like having a christmas tree, opening gifts, having a thanksgiving dinner, etc, and if I’m ever in India around that time, I do miss the atmostphere around me, just the decorations, and the overall festive feel….so yes, I can totally get that you’d miss it, since you grew up with it… 🙂

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