When we talk about Diwali, we think about Laxmi Puja, lights, fireworks etc., but in Chhattisgarh, this festival comprises of several other things, and this festival holds immense significance amongst Chhattisgarhis, specifically amongst tribals. Earlier, Laxmi Puja wasn’t a common practice here, but due to cultural exchange, people have started practicing this in Chhattisgarh as well. Gauri-Gaura (Parvati-Shiv) marriage and Govardhan Puja are two of the more important practices in the state.
On the day of Laxmi Puja, we prepare for “Gauri-Gaura” (Parvati-Shiv) marriage. We bring soil for preparing the mandap. This is performed in a grand manner, similar to a family member’s marriage.
After that, we create Gauri-Gaura’s mandap and people give their blessings to the “bride-groom” and marriage rituals are performed at night or as early as 4 AM in the morning. These rituals are performed first in the house of those whose ancestors established the village and also in the main gathering area of the village.
The following morning, we worship the cattle of our house. We prepare pumpkin khichdi for them and taste some as prasad. This is known as Goverdhan Puja. The Gauri-Gaura marriage is not a part of Goverdhan Puja, even though both are performed on the same day. While the cattle are entering the place of worship from their shed and vice-versa, at least one of their feet must walk through a special structure which is made of cow dung.
In the evening, all the villagers gather for a grand ceremony where people bring “Daang” (डाँग) from their homes. Daang, which is a long flag-like structure, represents the deity of their house. The family member who holds it goes into a trance and dances as long as the deity wants. They can’t keep the daang aside by their own will. The daang is taken to different parts of the villages. Sometimes, this happens at a place where people from 7-10 villages gather. This is like a fair or mela for us.
At the end of an eventful day, we greet each other by applying “tilak” of cow dung and rice and see each other off.
This day is also very special to the “Rauts” (community of cow herders). On this day, they perform “Raut Nacha” (Raut dance), door to door, in the village.
On this day, almost every household follows this menu:
This festival is all about love, harmony and positivity.
About the author: Pragya Uike a writer and poet pursuing a law degree from Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU), Raipur. She belongs to the Gond tribe. She loves to write about social issues pertaining to tribals, marginalized people and gender equality. You can follow her on Twitter @PragyaUike
These images and videos are from my ancestral village Bortara (District-Balod, Chhattisgarh).