Jyeshta Gauri Puja is the most popular Vrat which is observed in the month of Bhadrapada in the state of Maharashtra. It falls during the Jyestha nakshatra and hence known as Jyeshta Gauri Vrata. Goddess Gauri or Gowri is another name for Goddess Parvati. Three days Vrata Puja is performed by married women. Special decorations are done, and married women invite their relatives and neighbours’ to participate in the festivities. Haldi-Kumkum ceremony is an important event of the day. After the ceremony, several offering is distributed among guests.
Significance of Jyeshta Gauri:
Jyeshta Gauri Vrat and fast is kept by the women to get blessings from Goddess Shakti, the ultimate power of the Universe. They believe that worshiping Goddess Gouri will fill their married life with happiness and remove all their upheavals. Unmarried girls worship Devi Parvati on this day to get appropriate life-partner. Goddess Parvati is a consort of Lord Shiva. She fulfils the wishes of devotees.
Gauri Puja is also known as Upasana of Goddess Lakshmi in some regions. As per the legend, once the Deities were being harassed by the demons. Deities prayed to Goddess Srimahalakshmi. Appeased by the prayers, Srimahalakshmi vanquished the demons on the day of Ashtami, which is the eighth day of Bhadrapad month. She relieved the Deities from the clutches of demons. In the memory of this incident and for the protection of their husbands by Srimahalakshmi, the women perform the Vrat of Jyeshta Gauri on the day of Shukla Ashtami of Bhadrapad.
Idol of Gauri is installed on the Mul constellation that comes after Rushipanchami. This Vrat is observed for three days. On the first day, Gauri is invoked. The replicas of the Holy feet of Gauri are drawn on the main entrance and everywhere in the house with turmeric powder and vermilion. Devotees offer Shringar and gold jewellery to Goddess Gauri. In some regions, on the day of Gauri invocation, women worship the Water God or Jala-devata near the source of water. A Copper pitcher is filled with water. The leaves of mango tree and leaves of Champak are placed in it along with five stones. They worship the Copper Pitcher. It is also known as ‘Ganga-Gauri.’ On the second day, Gauri is worshipped and offered ‘Mahanaivedya.’ Special food is prepared. There is a tradition to offer 16 dish meal on the puja day. On the third day, clay idol of Gauri is immersed in flowing water. Married women are invited to the home for the ceremony of Haldi-Kumkum.