Festivals & Fasts

Swarna Gauri Vratam

Swarna Gauri Vratam FAST FOR WOMEN

Swarna Gauri Vratam is done on Shukla Tritiya tithi when Sun is in Leo - the day before Ganesha Chathurthi in the month of Bhadrapada.

Swarna means gold, Gauri is another name for Parvati and Vratam means Fast. It is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Gauri is another name for goddess Parvati and the Tritiya tithi belongs to her. Gauri represents virtue, fertility, marital felicity, asceticism and power. Lord Shiva narrated the importance of Swarna Gauri Vratam to Lord Murugan. Parvati wanted to marry Lord Shiva but Shiva was not able to reciprocate her love as he was mourning the death of his wife Sati. Parvati was determined to win the love of Lord Shiva, so, she started intense austerities in a forest, surviving on grass and fruits. This fast is done by women desiring to get married.

Swarna Gauri Vratam will bestow wealth and worldly well being to the people who observe it. Legend has it that the Vrata is so powerful that even a dry tree will turn green after its observance. It is believed that unmarried women performing this fast will get good husbands and married women will have a peaceful and happy married life.

A golden image of Goddess Parvati is worshipped along with Shiv Linga. In many places, a clay idol of Goddess Gauri and Lord Ganesha is worshipped on this day. It is later immersed in a pond along with that of Ganesha. There is an interesting legend involving Swarna Gauri Vratam and Ganesh Chaturthi. It is believed that Goddess Parvati comes to earth to answer the prayers of married and unmarried women during Swarna Gauri Vratam. Gauri Vrat day is followed by the Ganesh Chaturthi day when it is believed that Lord Shiva sends Ganesha to fetch his mother from earth.

How Swarna Gauri Vratam is Done in India

This fast is observed by married and unmarried women and is mainly performed in Karnataka and other places in South India. There are numerous regional and community variations in performing the ritual.

On the Swarna Gauri Vratam day, after cleaning the house thoroughly and bathing - married and unmarried women dress up in their fine clothes. Puja can be performed at home or by visiting a nearby temple.

In India, a small temporary shrine is erected using banana leaves and banana stem. This is decorated with mango leaves, turmeric, tulsi and sandalwood paste. Those who already have a puja cabinet perform the ritual in it or you can create a separate temporary place of worship.

Next is the installation of the idol of Goddess Parvati or Gauri. You can make an idol out of Tumeric powder- which is golden in colour or buy an idol of Parvati and decorate her with turmeric. The idol of Gauri is placed on a bed of rice. You can also place a Shiva linga and Ganesha idol with the idol of Parvati. Flowers and green leaves are mainly used to decorate the idols.

A 16-knotted thread is prepared for the puja and some people tie it on their hands. ( indicating the 16 long years of intense austerities performed by Goddess Parvati to obtain Lord Shiva as a husband).

Next is the preparation of special puja plates or thali with various items also known as "bagina." The pooja plate consists of turmeric, kumkum, a mirror, bangles, comb, various cereals, coconut, fresh cloth, rice, jaggery, the 16-knot thread, 16 different leaves and fruits. One plate is prepared for Goddess Parvati and more done to be given as gifts to married women. The way this plate of begina is prepared differs from region to region.

The main puja ceremony involves bathing the idol in milk, ghee, curd, honey and water. Then they offer aarti and sing bhajans ( hymns).

The Mantra of Parvati is Recited:

Om Sarva Mangala Maangalye, Shive Sarvaartha Saadhike
Sharanye Tryambake Gaurii, Narayani Namostute

Meaning - Goddess Parvati is the auspiciousness of all that is auspicious. She is the consort of Lord Shiva, who grants every desire of one's heart. I take refuge in the feet of Goddess Parvati. I bow to the great mother, Narayani.

This is a powerful mantra and important to learn it. This can be recited 3, 12 or 108 times.

Various dishes are prepared on the day especially rice dishes. Another important custom on the day is the sending of gifts by married women?s parents. Newly married girls also present "bagina" to married elderly women.

Most women will fast- refrain from eating during the day and only eat after sunset.

It is believed that by performing this puja unmarried girls will get good husbands and married women will have a healthy and peaceful family life.

How to do this Fast if you do not Live in India

Many of us live abroad and are unable to do the complicated rituals connected to this fast. The best way to do this fast is to get up in the morning, take a shower, wear new clothes or bath and pray to Parvati doing her powerful mantra. At this time you also make a resolution of why you are doing the fast. It is often best to do the fast without any expectations. If you want to get married and you are doing this fast - then it is important to think about it and ask goddess Parvati's blessings to get the best husband/partner and for married women- blessings for a long and happy married life.

Om Sarva Mangala Maangalye, Shive Sarvaartha Saadhike
Sharanye Tryambake Gaurii, Naarayani Namostute

This can be recited 3, 12 or 108 times.

Then fast for the whole day eating only fruits, nuts. In the evening you break the fast with having rice kheer ( rice pudding) or a meal that includes rice. It should be vegetarian. Usually the fast is broken after sunset. If you have a temple near you? you can visit for evening aarti. again you can repeat their mantra for Parvati given above.


— Komilla Sutton


by Komila Sutton

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