Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Madhya Pradesh

Fairs and Festivals


The festivals observed by all the classes living in the state are Dussehra, Diwali, Holi and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Other festivals common to non-tribals are Basant Panchami, Nag Panchami, Janmashtami, Shivaratri and Ram Navami. For the tribes, the Bhils and the Gonds, every festival is followed by some sort of animal sacrifice. The tribals of Bastar often complement their economy by community hunts like Pandum and Parad.


Gana-gour which is the festival of the north-western regions of Madhya Pradesh is celebrated in honour of Shiva and Parvati. 'Gana' means Shiva and 'Gour' means Parvati or Rano Bai.

 Rano Bai's parental house was in Malwa and she was married in Rajasthan. Rano Bai was a beloved child of her parents and she was so much attached to Malwa that she did not like staying in Rajasthan with her husband. After marriage she could come to Malwa only once a year. Gana-Gour symbolizes the coming back of Rano Bai to her parental house after marriage.           

The womenfolk of Malwa observe Gana-Gour twice a year. Once in the month of  Bhadra and the other in the month of  Chaitra. But the importance is given to the Chaitra Teej, i.e. the third day of the bright half of Chaitra  (March - April). The preliminaries of the festival are started just after Holi and conclude on Chaitra Teej. The post-Holi period punctuates the changes of the season. For unmarried girls, it signalizes the arrival of puberty. Prior to the Gana-Gour day girls go to the riverside singing traditional songs, and return home with jars full of water and green leaves. The ritual is called Phul-Pati which means flowers and leaves.   

The other visual aspect of the festival is the idol of Gana-Gour, which is made a week in advance. The Rawat women of Chhattisgarh prepare idols of both Shiva and Parvati and call the pair Isar-Gair. The Gonds make an idol of Bhimsen along with that of Isar-Gour. Different classes of Hindus prepare the idols according to their own age-old fashion. The war-loving tribes adore the idol of Shiva with a sword in one hand and a shield on the back.

The Gana-Gour festival includes offering of grown wheat or blades of rice to the idols by married women. The ritual is made for the blossoming of married life and the welfare of the community. In Surguja district, after completing the ceremonial rituals women dance the Karna which lasts the whole night.  In  Malwas the puja is performed daily in the evening till the concluding day. It follows the traditional dance around the idol. The dance is extremely simple. It consists of circular movements round the images of Gana-Gour. All such performances are arranged in the houses with large courtyards.  At the end sugar-bubbles, (batasha) are distributed among the gathering by the host.  On the last day of the festival, the idols are led out in procession to bid ceremonial farewell at river-banks or tanks. The Gana-Gour of the Dhakars are taken out in procession with the beating of drums and the playing of musical instruments.

Gana-Gour is repeated on the third day of Bhadra in the form of Kajli Teej to confirm the setting in of the rainy season.  Swings are put on all the big trees of the village.  A festive look is given to the houses and songs are once again echoed. In Chhattisgarh lyrics are sung in praise of goddess Durga and Mother Sharda.  The sentiments of newly-married girls also find expression in may of the songs.

The festival corresponds with the Gavar of Rajasthan. Gaura is a parallel festival celebrated in Chhattisgarh, the only exception being that it falls in Kartika instead of Chaitra or Bhadra.