Gaura Parva | Festival in Far Western Nepal
Women of the Far western region celebrate the Gaura Parva Festival. They replace Teej with this festival and celebrate it for 7 days long.
In Bhadra, people of Mid western and Far western Nepal celebrate Gaura Parva. As per Gregorian calendar, the Beautiful Gaura Festival falls in the months of August and sometimes in September.
Passed down to generations from over four hundred years, Gaura is a special festival for women. People celebrate this festival for seven days, starting from the day of Krishna Janmashtami. In this festival, women worship Lord Shiva and Parbati, as well as Lord Ganesha, just like in Hartalika Teej.
There are three major components of Gaura Festival:
- Deuda Dance
- Deuda Song
Deuda Dance and Deuda Song
During the Gaura Festival, women perform a special dance called deuda dance on the tunes of folk deuda songs. These songs are collections of various folk tales, based on glorification of the great goddess Gauri. On this Festival, women especially worship the Goddess Gauri (Goddess Parbati), wishing for the good health, prosperity, and long life of their husbands.
This dance expresses their feelings, sorrow and happiness. Deuda dance has no particular steps, but the people simply hold hands and dance in a circular chain. They take only one or two steps at a time along with Deuda songs. These songs are still one of the famous folk tones from that region.
Districts: Achham, Darchula, Dailekh, Jumla, Kalikot, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Bajura, and many other locations.
Eats Biruda on Gaura Parva
Biruda is a mixture of gahat, guraus, kalau, gahu and mash. Biruda is pure and succulent food. They call this Biruda as the 'Pancha Birudi'.
In the Gaura Festival, the women make an idol of Lord Shiva and Parbati from grass. They also offer the Biruda to the idols.
After finishing their worship at the temple, the women return home and bless the family with the Biruda. They believe this five grain mixture brings good health and long life to the family. According to popular belief, this mixture is filling for whoever consumes it. Since, it contains all of the essential nutrients that grains can provide. They eat Biruda on the day of Panchami.
They celebrate this holy festival as the symbol of the reunion of Shiva and Parbati. Like any other festival, Gaura Parva also helps strengthen family bonds.
How do people celebrate Gaura Parva?
Day - 1
Men and women dance and sing the deuda to announce the festival - Gaura Parva.
Day - 2
Women fast for the long life and good health of their husbands. On this day they take Biruda to the nearest Shiva - Parbati Temple. After finishing the ritual, every woman rejoices in the return and brings Biruda back home singing and dancing.
Day - 3
Women collect grasses (Sau, Kurjo, Tulsi, Paddy, Bal) and make a statue of goddess Gauri. They call it 'Thuli Gauri'. Then they offer dresses and ornaments to Thuli Gauri. They put Thuli Gauri in a bamboo basket to worship her. Likewise, the priest prepares Maheshwor out of the same stuff and they worship Lord Shiva and Parbati. While women worship Shiva - Parbati, men sing and dance in Deuda songs.
Day - 4
People worship Sani Gauri; another form of Parbati. After putting Sindhur and tika, women again dance deuda. On this day women also change Dubo Dhago (a type of ribbon worn in hair and on the neck).
Day - 5
They worship Thuli Gauri and Sani Gauri together.
Day - 6
Next day, they organize the marriage (Swayambar) of Maheshwor and Gauri. After that, women start dancing and singing deuda folks again. This event can sometimes fall on the fifth day as well, according to Tithi.
Day - 7
On this day, people take the idols to a nearby holy place to immerse. Then they return home after a week-long Gaura festival.
Legends behind Maheshwor and Gauri’s Marriage
Once lord Shiva and Parbati reincarnated as Maheshwor and Gauri in the far western land of Nepal. Growing up they became friends and when they were of proper age, they fell in love and Maheshwor willingly went to Gauri’s home to ask for her hands. Gauri’s mother got so angry and refused the proposal saying she shall only give her beautiful daughter to either the sun or the moon. After hearing that, Maheshwor who was lord Shiva’s incarnation, showed his real self wearing a moon on his forehead and even sun came down to his feet. After seeing who he really was, Gauri’s parents got Gauri and Maheshwor married, despite Maheshwor being very poor.
After many years, one day Maheshwor brought home another woman and told Gauri that he had remarried. Seeing that, Gauri along with their daughter Saraswati went to Gauri’s maternal home. On her way she cursed Maheshwor for hunger. As she was herself the all-powerful Parbati’s incarnation Maheshwor suffered in hunger, his cows started to suffer, his children and new wife also started to suffer. On seeing that Maheshwor went to Gauri’s home and tried pleasing her. It's believed that she finally got pleased on the seventh day, so the Gaura festival is celebrated for a week.
Likewise, another legend says that King Sahastraarjun went on a rampage to kill every brahmin who was granted land by his father. Some of them hid in the forest to save their lives. But King used all his power to search the remaining brahmins and killed them one by one. In the series of events, the wife of one of the brahmin worshipped Goddess Gauri. She blessed her with a baby boy as her son. The boy grew up and killed Sahastraarjun.
Since that time, women of Far-Western Nepal started celebrating the Gaura Parva festival.