Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mangala Gouri Vratam - the Legend and Celebrations

 Mangala gouri pooja or vratam is observed by married women on Tuesdays in the Shravan (July – August) month. According to South Indian calendar Mangala gouri vratam in 2010 can be celebrated on 17 August, 24 August, 31 August and 7 September. In North Indian states Mangala gauri vratam is observed on 27 July, 3 August, 10 August, 17 August, and 24 August.

Mangala gouri vratam is observed by newly wed women for the wellbeing and longevity of husbands. In this article, we shall know the The various Vratas that are observed in Hinduism is based on a story. The general idea of the story remains the same but the characters and incidents change from region to region. This Shravana Mangala Gowri Vrata Katha is from Karnataka known as Mangala Gowri Haadu or Haddu. The shloka or song (prayer) narrated during the puja is also referred as Mangala Gouri Haadu

Long long ago a boy who was studying under a guru went from house to house seeking alms. This was a tradition then and the Guru and shishya only took what was needed for the day. But strangely this boy refused alms given by the queen of the land and took alms from other women. The king and the queen of the land were staunch Shiva devotees but did not have any children.
The queen and the king discussed this strange incident and the next day, the queen again offered rice to the young boy. But the boy did not accept it.

The king came and asked why he was not taking the rice from the queen.

The boy said that the king and queen did not have children and it would not be wise to take alms from a couple who is unlucky.

The king got angry and said only Lord Shiva can decide who should be lucky and unlucky. The king who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva soon realized that the boy was Shiva in disguise. He then prayed to forgive his arrogance and asked to be blessed with a child.
Shiva blessed the couple but said their child will only live for sixteen years.

A boy, Chandrasekhar, was born to the couple and soon time passed by and the boy became a teenager. The king and the queen remembered the words of Shiva and decided to send young Chandrasekhar, who was fifteen, to Kashi. It is believed that those who die at Kashi will never be born again.

Young Chandrasekhar was informed about his fate and without any other option he followed his uncle to Kashi. On the way, the young boy saw several new things. In a garden, they met a lovely princess. The boy and the uncle heard the princess discussing the glory of Mangala Gowri Puja. It was the Shravan month and the girls were performing the Mangala Gowri Vratha. The princess was saying that whoever she marries will live a long life because she performs the Mangala Gowri Puja with pure heart and devotion.

The boy and the uncle moved forward and they met a prince who was sick. He explained to them that he was to marry the princess of the kingdom tomorrow but he was ashamed to go in front of people as he has fallen sick. The prince asked Chandrasekhar to help him out by appearing in the marriage function. Chandrasekhar agreed.

Young Chandrasekhar appeared as the groom and the first day of the marriage function passed away smoothly. That night Chandrasekhar was to turn sixteen. He explained about his fate and about the real prince to the princess and decided to leave next morning to Kashi.

But that night the princess saw a snake approaching Chandrasekhar; she grabbed a handful of unbroken grains used to perform Mangala Gowri Puja and threw it on the snake. The snake fell dead. She took the snake and hid it in the Kalash used to perform the Mangala Gowri Puja.

Chandrasekhar left the next morning and he left his wedding ring there. The other prince took the place for the day's wedding ceremony but the princess was not ready to marry him. She said firmly that Chandrasekhar was her husband and she will only sit next to him.

Chandrasekhar reached Kashi and a year passed. He did not die. The strength and devotion with which the young princess performed the Mangala Gowri Puja saved him. While returning back to his kingdom, Chandrasekhar again reached the same spot. He longed to see the young princess even though he believed that she was happily married to the prince.

Chandrasekhar heard that the princess was in the habit of feeding all the people who passed by her kingdom. He went and sat among the people who was partaking the food offered by the princess. Soon the princess appeared. She was closely examining all the people who were eating. She has been doing this from the day Chandrasekhar left; she was sure that one day he will pass by her kingdom.
In no time, the young princess recognized Chandrasekhar. She showed him the wedding ring. The young Chandrasekhar could not control his tears. He said he did not die. The princess said she knew it and explained what happened on the night when he turned sixteen.

Soon they got married and lived happily there after.

Mangala Gouri Vratam Celebrations

Mangala gouri pooja is dedicated to Goddess Gouri or Parvati. The method of performing this pooja varies from region to region. Married women perform deity worship of Goddess Gouri. The deity is decorated with colors, flowers and fruits. Lamps and incense are offered. The the story of Mangala gouri is recited and prayers are offered.

 Another Legend

According to a legend, Drowpadi once asked her brother Sri Krishna on what women should do to prevent widowhood and lead a life of joy and prosperity. Lord Krishna told her about Sravana Mangala Gowri Vratam in which people pray to the Goddess to achieve their goal. To perform the Mangala Gowri Vratam, women have to wake up early in the morning, take a head bath, prepare a worship place by cleaning it and decorating it with rangoli. Then rice is spread on the rangoli and small image of Mangala Gowri made with turmeric paste to which worship is offered. After the puja, the women give tamboolam to other women along with soaked bengalgram.
Normally, this ritual is performed by women from the Sravanamasam immediately after the marriage. This is continued for five years when it is said to be complete, with worship completed on all Tuesdays during the five years. Some may take even more time to complete the five years' prayer.

Women are seen visiting neighbors with loads of bengalgram, plantains and betel leaves for giving tamboolam to their counterparts. They apply turmeric paste and offer obeisance while presenting tamboolam. Chanting of Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam and offering kumkum poojas is also witnessed in temples. As no marriages are performed in the preceding months, a sudden burst of marriage activity is found during the month of Sravanamasam.

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