Apart from welcoming Ganpati Bappa, most households in Maharashtra also gear up for Gauri Pujan where they install the idol of Goddess Gauri, mother of Lord Ganesha and worship her along with Bappa. The Goddess Gauri is also worshipped as Goddess Mahalaxmi. Gauri Pujan, which is an important festival for Hindu women and especially for women from the Marathi community, falls on the fourth or the fifth day of Ganesh Chathurthi every year.
The festival is also called Jyeshtha Gauri Pujan. This year, the auspicious festival will be celebrated on the fifth day of Ganesh Chathurthi, i.e. today. The festival is observed by both married and unmarried women. While the married ones observe the Mangala Gauri Vrat for good health and long life of their husbands, the unmarried ones observe this fast in the hope of getting an ideal husband. And as per ancient Hindu scriptures, Goddess Sita had performed Gauri pujan to get Lord Rama.
According to a mythical tale, in ancient times when asuras used to harass people, married women prayed to Maa Gauri to save their husbands and families from the wrath of asuras. As per the story, the day when married ladies approached Mata Gauri for help, that day was Shudha Paksha Asthami of Bhadrapad month.
On the day of Gauri Pujan, after the muhurat of Gauri Avahan (beckoning of Goddess Gauri) begins, Gauri Mukhavta (Face of Gauri) or idol of Gauri is welcomed with fervour. At some households, the Gauri comes in pairs, depending on tradition. The idols are then dressed up in sarees, like a new bride. They are then adorned by traditional Maharashtrian jewellery. Devotees then offer naivaidya to holy Goddess. They conduct a small pujan inside the temple and offer even a new sari to the idol of Goddess Gauri.
To attain happiness and prosperity, devotees worship the divine goddess. It is believed that pleasing the Goddess improves the husband-wife relationship, increase wealth and brings overall happiness in the lives of devotees.