Gangaur is one of the Mewar’s eagerly awaited festivals. Women worship Gangaur with deep devotion for the long life of their husband while young girls do so to get a spouse of their liking.
According to Dr. Mahendra Bhanawat, an authority on folk culture, there have been several cases of abduction (Kidnapping) of Gangaur. He has heard about quite a few incidents in which to show their valor and to run down others, kings have abducted Gangaur. There are many songs that relate such incidents. No wonder the rulers kept their Gangaurs surrounded by guards.
The beautiful wife of Isar Singh
Beginning with Udaipur, Dr. Bhanawat says that once Viramdas who was related to a royal family had a beautiful daughter who was engaged to Isarsingh of Bundi. Several young men began to envy Isarsingh and wanted to take away his wife. When Isarsingh came to know about it, he rushed to Udaipur and carried away his wife on horseback. On his way back, he found that river Chambal was fully flooded. Without any consideration, he jumped into the river. No wonder, the couple was washed away.
‘Bringing the Gangaur of Jawad’
Dr. Bhanawat relates another incident that he says he heard from Rani Laxmikumar Chundawat of Devgarh. Near Devgarh is a village named Barjal that had a big population of Rawats. Once the wife of Jala Rawat’s brother taunted him saying as if he could bring the Gangaur of Jawad. Jawad was a big jagridari and its Gangaur was very famous. Jala was deeply hurt. He went to Jawad and when the Gangaur was taken out in a procession, he rushed, took away the Gangaur and returned home with it. He was praised highly by the people in the village. ‘Bringing the Gangaur of Jawad’ became a phrase. Later on, this Gangaur was given to Devgarh Thikana by the Rawats.
The capturing of the Gangaur of Kota
Dr. Bhanawat has yet another story about Gangaur. Once someone praised the Gangaur of Kota before Maharana Swarup Singh. He challenged everybody to bring it to Udaipur. Kunwar Lalsingh of Gogunda accepted the challenge and went away to Kota. When the festival of Gangaur was being celebrated Lalsingh sent a message to the Durbar that from a distance had come to a horse rider who was expert at making a Gangaur on a horse dance. The Durbar was amazed and called Lalsingh. Lalsingh entered the place, lifted the Gangaur, put it on the horse and began to move the horse slowly. Then he gradually increased the speed and suddenly made the horse gallop away. The shocked Durbar asked his horse riders to chase Lalsingh but to no one availed. Lalsingh returned home and presented the Gangaur to the Maharana. The Maharana was all praise for Lalsingh and asked him to keep the Gangaur with him. This very Gangaur is a big attraction during the Gangaur Mela at Gogunda and is taken out in a procession. This Mela takes place at night. Thousands of tribal folks from neighboring villages add to the attraction of this fair with dancing and singing. Dr. Bhanawat adds that he learned about this incident from Purohit Bherunlal of Gogunda when he met him in 1975.
The Broken Gangaur
According to Dr. Bhanawat Rao Manohar Singh of Bedla Thikana has a Gangaur that has only its trunk. Rao Saheb does not remember from where it was brought. But he had heard from his forefathers that its limbs were broken in a fight and only its trunk was brought on the tip of the lance. This 300-400-year-old Gangaur is still worshipped reverently. It is extremely beautiful and is dressed in expensive clothes in such a way that its disability is not revealed.
Gangaur of Bikaner state
Dr. Bhanawat says that as ordered by Maharawal of Jaisalmer, Bhati Mehajal and his group took away by force the Gangaur of Bikaner state. Then Lakhan Singh son of Bitwar Khangir Singh attacked the Bhatis and killed Mehajal. Pleased by this act, Maharaja Karansigh of Bikaner gave Loha village of Ratangarh tehsil of Churu district to Lakhan Singh. The latter is still remembered for his valor.
Gangaur of Merta City where the Gangaur is guarded with Guns
Saubhagya Singh Shekhawat an eminent scholar of Dingal literature wrote in a letter to Dr. Bhanwat that once Ramsignh Khangarot of Singhpri near Jubner took away the Gangaur of Merta City. He was the Faujdar of Sikar Thikana. Villagers of the area are still so frightened of him that they guard their Gangaur with guns, bows, arrows and ‘lathis’.
The origin of the song ‘Aage Aage Gindoli, Pachhe Jagmal Kanwar’
Rani Laxmikumari Chundawat related one more incident to Dr. Bhanawat. Once Hathikhan, Subedar of Patan forcibly carried 140 girls when they were celebrating Teej and presented them to the Badshah of Ahmedabad. Jagmal was not in the village at that time. He was furious when he returned and learned about the incident. He vowed not to shave, wear clean clothes or put on Pagdi till he took revenge. On the occasion of Gangaur when Gindoli the daughter of Badshah Mehmood Baig came out to see the procession, the Pradhan of Jagmal, Bhopji Hool reached there with his group and captured her. When, after the immersion of Gangaur, the procession, the Pradhan of Jagmal was returning Bhopji reached there with Gindoli. Jagmal was extremely happy. He kept Gindoli in the front of the procession and himself at the back. This is the origin of the song ‘Aage Aage Gindoli, Pachhe Jagmal Kanwar’ that still reminds people of the incident.