Gangaur festival ended yesterday on March 22, 2018, after a three-day grand celebration. Let us tell you how the royals celebrated this grand fiesta of the bygone era.
Celebrated in the honor of Gouri, the Gangaur festival of Mewar is famous not only in India but also in foreign countries. It was a queer combination of royal splendor, cultural display, and religious fervor.
The procession of Gangaur was regulated by the sound of the Nakkaras. The first sound indicated that it was time to reach the right place. While the second sound meant that the procession had been set in order. When the Maharana sat on the elephant or the horse, there was the third sound. At that time 21 cannons were fired.
Right at the front was Nishan Ka Hathi, on which sat a young person holding the Rajya Ka Nishan that was a small flag made of Jari with white sun and moon embroidered on it. With him sat a wrestler carrying golden Guraj. On the other elephants sat Sardar Peshwan and Majeenda in the Handa. Then followed a band, clad in colorful dresses and directed by the Band Master.
Riding an elephant or a horse, the Maharana used to be the biggest attraction and the public wanted to watch him from close quarters. The Maharana had Jama and Dodi, Pagdi on his head, jewel-studded ornaments, Tilak on the forehead, pearls, Akshat, Kamar Bandh, Dhal, Talwar, and velvet Mojdis. There used to be Lawajma of Chanwar, Chatra etc. Other Sardars, Jagirdars, and Peshawars followed him. Then came Sardari Sawar, horse-riders etc. The loud voice of Chhadidars and the recitations of couplets of Veer Ras by Charans and Dholis reverberated in the air. Right at the end came Nagare Ka Hathi with Nagaras on both the sides that were sounded by the Nagarchis at whose back sat the Shahnai players.
Poles used to be put up from Badi Pol to Gangaur Ghat to mark the route of the procession. There were guards on both the sides. The public watched the procession from windows and roofs. Bhistis used to sprinkle water on ‘Kucchi’ roads. The mixing of the smell of the sand, the sound of the musical instruments and the noise of the crowd created a refreshing atmosphere that became memorable. Thus, concluded the first phase of the Gangaur procession.
Two huge boats were made for this festival. They were then joined. On one of them was a high ‘Sinhasan’ on which sat the Maharana. On it was put up an artistic ‘Chhatri’ with four pillars. The ‘Chhatri’ and ‘Sinhasan’ were decorated with bright and beautiful clothes.
The second boat without any ‘Chhatri’ had the seventeenth Umrao Pradhan. In the two boats, there was space for 125 persons. The boat ride was for three days and every day the color of the dresses and Pagadis changed. The procession in boats would go to Badi Pol and returned from there.
Meanwhile, the procession of Gangaur reached Gangaur Ghat. It was a procession of ladies in which a lady would carry Gangaur on her head. Other women used to sing and accompany her. The Maharana and others used to stand up and honor the Gangaur. After the systematic ‘Puja’ of Gangaur, the flowers etc. offered to her were given to the Maharana. There would be singing and dancing and the Gangaur returned to the palace. Getting down at Roop Ghat near the palace, the Maharana would return to the palace. The three-day festival is famous in Udaipur. A mini form of this festival was also celebrated in Thikanas of Mewar.
Over the years, there have been big changes in the way this festival is celebrated in Udaipur. Tourist Deptt. now celebrates it for three days and that has, in turn, promoted tourism.