Mangala Gauri ‘Vrat’ (fast) is observed in honor of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. The fast is observed every Tuesday in the Hindu month of ‘Shravan’ (July-August). Parvati is regarded as the symbol of power and also embodies the virtues of a happily married woman. Observing the fast on this day is of deep religious significance for married women, who observe the ritual for a happy married life. Just as the Mondays of this month are auspicious for the worship of Lord Shiva, the Tuesdays are propitious for the veneration of Mangala Gauri (Avatar of Goddess Parvati). Fasting is observed only by women and continues for 16 or 20 Tuesdays. Recently,married women observe the Mangala Gauri Puja for the first five years in almost every region of India.
Significance of Mangala Gauri Vrat
Women dedicatedly observe the fast to propitiate the Mother Goddess Shakti (Parvati) for obtaining her blessings. Worship of Goddess Gauri brings manifold benefits and alleviates the stresses and strains of life. The Mother Goddess is ever willing to come to the aid of her devotees and fulfills all their desires. Many unmarried women worship Mangala Gauri and observe the fast with devotion in a bid to get a good husband and lead a happy married life.
Legend of Mangala Gauri Vrat
There is an interesting anecdote related to Mangala Gauri Puja. Long ago, there lived a merchant named Dharampal who was happily married to a beautiful wife. But as fate would have it, the couple was childless. However, they propitiated Goddess Parvati with their sincere prayers, and soon enough were blessed with a son. Though the son was hale and healthy, he was not destined to live long. The wise couple was heart-broken, but soon they devised a plan to get their son married to a girl who would never face widowhood. Thus, Dharampal’s son managed to overcome his destiny and went on to live for a hundred years.
Celebrations and Rituals of Mangala Gauri Vrat
As is the norm for all Hindu religious festivals, devotees should arise early on the day of Mangala Gauri Puja and have a purifying bath in preparation for the rituals to follow.
Devotees start the Puja by first placing the idol of Devi Mangala Gauri on a wooden platform wrapped in a red cloth. The altar is illuminated with a lamp made of wheat flour and consisting of 16 thick cotton wicks. Worship of Mangala Gauri is carried out by performing the Puja according to Shodoroshopochar rituals. Symbolic images of the Navagrahas made of rice and Shodash Goddess made of wheat are placed on the altar along with Devi Mangala Gauri. The idol of Lord Ganesha is also placed next to the deities.
Along with the other Pujas, a ritual called Kalash Sthapana is performed. Offerings of Haldi, kumkum, Akshata, water, sandalwood, vermillion, betel nuts, rice flowers, cardamom, Bael leaves, fruits, nuts, and alms are placed while performing the Ganesha Puja. After completion of the Ganesha Pooja, Navagraha Pooja and Shodasha Goddesses Pooja (puja to 16 Goddesses) is performed. This ritual is conducted by offering 16 types of flowers, along with mirror, comb and bangles to the Goddess.
Mangala Gauri Vrat Katha is then recited toward the end of the Pujas.
After completion of the fasting on the last Tuesday of the Shravan month, on the following day, i.e. Wednesday, the idol of Goddess Mangala Gauri is immersed with due respect in a pond; this ritual is known as Mangala Gauri Visarjan or Udyapana.
The festivities end with the distribution of Prasad, Turmeric and Vermillion powder to other married women