GAURI HABBA or HARTALIKA TEEJ Swarna Gouri Vrata or Gauri Habba: habba=festival in kannada Swarna Gouri Vrata, also known as Gauri Habba, is observed a day before Ganesh Chaturthi puja mainly by women in Karnataka. Swarna Gauri Vrata is dedicated to Goddess Gowri, popularly known as Goddess Parvati. It is observed on the third day of the Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapad month mainly in Kannadiga Culture. Hindu women observe Swarna Gouri Vrata for the well-being of their husbands and for a peaceful and prosperous life. Unmarried women observe if for getting a good husband. Swarna means ‘gold’ and in the ritual a golden image of Goddess Parvati is worshipped along with Shivling. In many regions a clay idols of Goddess Gowri and Lord Ganesha is worshipped on this day. It is later immersed in a pond. It is believed that Goddess Parvati comes to earth to answer the prayers of married and unmarried women during Swarna Gauri Vratam. Gowri Vrat day is followed by the Ganesh Chaturthi day. Hindus believe that Lord Shiva sends Ganesha to fetch his mother from earth. On the same day women in North India observe the Hartalika Teej Vrat which is also dedicated to Goddess Parvati. How to observe Gowri Habba or Swarna Gauri Vratam? Gowri Habba or Swarna Gauri Vratam is a Hindu festival dedicated to Goddess Paravati, also known as Gaowri. The ‘Vrat’ is mainly observed by married and unmarried women and is mainly performed in Karnataka and other places in South India. An answer to How to do the Gowri Habba or Swarna Gauri Vratam is bit complex as there are numerous regional and community variations in performing the ritual. :: Performing Gowri Habba :: On the Swarna Gauri Vratam day, the house is cleaned thoroughly. After bathing, married women and young girls in the family dress up in fresh/new clothes. Some people perform the puja at home; others at the houses of relatives or friends and some opt for the nearby temples. 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 in a separate temporary area. Next is the installation of the idol of Goddess Parvati or Gowri. There are several methods for this. The indigenous method is to make an idol of Gowri with turmeric. Nowadays, people opt for the readymade idols of Goddess Gowri which is available in market. Some people opt for the family-owned Swarna or gold idol of Gowri. The idol of Gowri, which is decorated neatly with clothes, is placed on a bed of rice or wheat or other cereals. Some people place a Shivling and Ganesha idol along with the idol of Parvati. Flowers and green leaves are mainly used to decorate the idols. Some people also opt for a Purna Kumbh. A mirror is placed along with the idol. A 16-knotted thread is prepared for the puja and some people tie it on their hands. (Perhaps indicating the 16 long years of intense austerities performed by Goddess Parvati to obtain Lord Shiva as husband). Next is the preparation of special puja plates or challis with various puja items also known as ‘bagina.’ The pooja thali or 'bagina' consists of turmeric, kum kum, a mirror, bangles, comb, various cereals, coconut, fresh cloth, rice, jaggery, the 16 knot thread, 16 different leaves and fruits. Some people prepare just one pooja thali for Goddess Parvati. Some prepare several ‘bagina’ and distribute among married women. (Please note that the number of items and those used varies from region to region.) The main puja ceremony involves bathing the idol in milk, ghee, curd, honey and water. Some people only perform the simple Aarti and sing bhajans. Then the prepared bagina is offered to Gowri and people recite the prayers dedicated to Parvati or specially-coined phrases like: ‘Savitri, Savitri, Bagina Tagoo.’ While taking away the bagina repeat the same prayers or say ‘muthiyadae, mutiyadae bagina kodu.’ [Savitri savitra accept this 'bagina'; suhagan suhagan, please give me the 'bagina'] 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. 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, and continued well-being of their respective husbands. In some areas, people immerse the Turmeric idol along with Ganesha. (Gowri Habba is followed by Ganesh Chaturthi). It must be remembered here that all these rituals are man made. It is easy to observe these rituals when you live along with relatives and friends. Today, most people live alone that too in countries alien to such rituals. A simple prayer to Goddess Parvati will be more than enough. Always remember the core concept of Santana Dharma is Brahman – the supreme soul present in all living and non-living - and realization of it is the ultimate aim. :: Origin of Swarna Gowri Vratam :: The important legend associated with Gowri Habba is that of the birth of Ganesha. It is believed that Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati from her own body. She asked her son to guard the doors of the house and went to take bath. Shiva appeared there and was stopped by the boy. Shiva did not recognize the boy and after few heated arugments and Shiva in a fit of anger chopped off the head of the boy. Soon Goddess Parvati arrived at the scene and demanded that her son be brought back to life. Shiva brought Ganesha back to life by placing the head of an elephant instead of the human head. Gowri Habba celeberates the power of Goddess Gouri. In another legend, importance of Swarna Gowri Vratam was narrated to Lord Muruga by Lord Shiva. Parvati wanted to marry Lord Shiva but Shiva was in no mood to reciprocate her love as he was mourning the death of Sati. Parvati was determined to win the love of Lord Shiva. So, she started intense austerities in a forest, surviving on grass and fruits. Parvati continued this intense ‘tapas’ for long sixteen years. Finally, Lord Shiva was moved by Parvati’s intense devotion and love and married her. According to Puranas, Gowri 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 Swarna Gauri Vratam will get good husbands and married women will have a peaceful and happy married life.