This post is more importantly about Jeshta Gauri agaman (arrival of Gauri) 2 days after Ganesha Chathurthi.
TIP: During Ganesha Chaturthi, always plan your travel 2 1/2 months earlier. If you happen to be visiting Konkan you would identify with the significance attached with purchase of rail tickets in advance be it any class or berth.
Though my native place, Kumbharli, beckoned me, work topped my priority list. Sadly I did not even get to the point of booking my travel tickets. This year was special in two ways. Number one, this year Purva nakshatra resided in the month of Bhadrapad when we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi. Therefore this year is the year of vausa, where a newlywed suvasini (married women) will commence worshiping mother Gauri and then continue thereafter each year.
My younger brother married in November last year, and luckily, his wife could start with her Gauri pooja. I know few women who had to wait for 4 to 5 years. Either the wait for next purva nakshatra is 2 years later or they are blessed with pregnancy, during which they cannot perform vausa.
Before Gauri aagman, preparations are in full swing. Women folk gather and mould lenaval or alankar (jewellery-for the goddess) made out of a wheat flour and jaggery dough. These are shaped in various forms, roughly resembling all the ornaments associated with a suvasini. Mangalsutra, bangles, nath (nose ring), jodvi (toering), bugadi (earstuds). These sweets are then deep-fried and packed to distribute and eaten.
5 sups (winnowing fan weaved in bamboo) are decorated with swastik in the center, drawn with kumkum. Symbols of swastik, shri and om are always drawn on auspicious occasions and it is a good practice to draw them outside your doorstep, with rangoli and then fill with color. The sups are then arranged with 5 betel leaves and nuts at the base, 5 fruits, 5 sweets, the lenaval, a coconut and niranjan (ghee lamp either copper, silver, brass). Comb, mirror, mani mangalsutra (tiny gold bead threaded with black beads), Kunku karanda (kumkum holder), green bangles, silver jodvi all signifying the suvasini’s shrungar (adornment) essentials are in addition.
The new bride can distribute these 5 sups, starting from 1. Goddess Gauri herself 2. gaon chi devi (village deity) Mahakali in our case; 3. someone from her maternal home, anyone except her mother. If the pooja is performed at the in-laws, then the mother-in-law is given the sup. My sis-in-law distributed one to her aatya (father’s sister) when she visited them, and two of them were brought back home. My mami (maternal uncle’s wife) was offered one and the last came my way. This is considered as a huge honour. In return of the sup, usually we acknowledge the honour by ooti bharun (a fabric, rice and a coconut are placed in the giver’s lap, rice and kumkum is applied on her forehead all signifying, abundance of grain and longevity of the husband’s life).
Me being her nanand (husband’s sister) and the elder one at that, the heavily decked sup which comes my way is called as nandecha maan (maan is honour). After my brother and my sis-in-law, were back from Kumbharli, I had decided to buy something for her in return of the honour she will bestow, however didn’t find time from work, even after 1 week. The next Sunday, when I came home to my Aai’s place, my sis-in-law was all dressed up, in a beautiful orange red jari saree, jewellery et. all and me in my work clothes. I asked her if she had gone out, but she smiled and said, was waiting for me to arrive. I was surprised. She called me inside, near the dev ghar (altar) and applied hald kunku (turmeric and red powder) on my forehead, offered the sup and both my brother she touched my feet together for blessings. I wish I had bought something earlier, but gave her an envelope with cash instead. The second special thing about this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi is just this. Nandecha mann.
The most gentle and benevolent Goddess Gauri’s visarjan marks the advent of her another form i.e. Durga. Durga Pooja and the Navratri celebrations of nine forms of Shakti (power) begins today.