Indore (Madhya Pradesh): The joyful, divine and pious atmosphere of the 10-day Ganesh festival increases with the manifold over the three-day festival of worshipping Goddess Mahalaxmi in Maharastrian households. Gauri pooja or Mahalaxmi puja begins on the fourth day of Ganesh festival and signifies the arrival of the goddess to her maika (mother’s home). Gauri often known as Jehstha (elder) and Kanistha (younger) are hailed as Ganesh’s sister. It is like a homecoming for the daughters, who come back to their mother’s place for a festival. They stay three days.
Like Ganesh Utsav brings neighbourhoods together, Gauri pooja is the traditional festival that brings families together to offer prayers to the goddess of wealth and intellect. Houses are decorated for the arrival of the goddess, pandals are constructed inside the house.
Generally, the preparations for the festival begin a few days ahead by cleaning the house and preparing the delicacies. Devotees buy new sarees, and garlands and offer them to the goddess.
The festival starts on Bhadrapaksh Shukla Saptmi every year. The first day of Mahalaxmi puja commences on Thursday morning this year, with the devotees taking baths and dressing up in fresh clothes. All the households use the same age-old mukut (faces) of the goddess kept in the storage, along with the mukut of her son and daughter.
The mukuts are worshipped, dressed up as if they are alive and offered flowers and prayers before the actual installation of the idols takes place. Beautifully decorated places of worship, the scent of essence sticks, aroma of delicious sweets and savoury Prasad are found in Marathi households during this festival.
The second day of pooja calls a huge feast and offering to the god. Devotees have to perform maha aarti on the second day. The women in the family spend time preparing the feast for the second day. It is a feast of ‘panch pakwanna’ (five sweets). Along with these sweets, 16 different seasonal vegetables are cooked for her. ‘Oti bharni’ is performed and then, ‘haldi kumkum’ is done for all the invited women.
On the third day, the Gauris return home. As her blessing, the women in the house wear a yellow thread around their neck.