Gauri-Ganesh and the Haldi Connection
Turmeric / Haldi / Manjal is conspicuous by its presence in almost all of religious and/or auspicious rituals of Hindu festivals. Have you ever wondered, why?
It is amazing how our wise ancestors linked all things beneficial for mankind to either food or religious rituals and ceremonies. It is incorporated in our day-to-day life in such a way that it becomes almost irreplaceable or indispensable. This ensured that the maximum number of people across all classes benefitted from these wondrous gifts of nature.
Turmeric has been considered as auspicious since ages in India, Known for its cleansing, purifying, healing and protective qualities, it has been put at the top of the list of valuable herbs by Ayurveda. Being a natural antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-bacterial, it is of immense medicinal value and has been used for ages not only as a spice or as a natural dye for clothes, but also for curing all types of ailments. Hence, Turmeric signifies utmost cleansing and purifying both literally and symbolically.
The golden yellow colour of Turmeric is reminiscent of the sun and is associated with new beginnings, fertility, peace and prosperity, thereby establishing its place in wedding rituals.
Therefore, it is only right that it should be associated with Hindu deities, especially Ganpati and Gauri—the remover of obstacles and harbinger of good health and fortune.
It is believed that installing turmeric-made idols of Gauri (Arishinadagauri) and Ganesh (Haridra Ganapati) at home for worship bestows good health, wealth and success.
Of the many manifestations of Ganpati, Haridra Ganpati (also known as Haldi or Ratri Ganesh) is unique as it is made of the root of Turmeric or Haldi and adorns yellow clothes. This form is believed to rid the worshipper of mental, physical and spiritual afflictions. It is said that whoever prays to this form of Ganpati will enter a golden phase in his/her life and achieve good luck and success in whatever he or she wishes for. Besides the energies Riddhi(wealth) and Siddhi(skill), a third energy, Buddhi(intellect), is also supposed to accompany Haridra Ganpati.
The people of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh celebrate Gowri Habba a day before the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. It is believed that Gowri or Goddess Parvathi visits her parents’ home on this day and her son, Lord Ganesha, comes to take her back with her the next day. It is a festival celebrated mainly by married women who may visit their parents’ home for the festival. Traditionally, the idol of Gauri was made using Turmeric, also known as Arishinadagauri. Gifts, which consist of Turmeric, bangles, comb, mirror, vermillion, etc., are offered in traditional winnows painted with Turmeric first to Gauri and then to other married women.
Hartalika Teej is celebrated the same day as Gowri Habba by most women across Eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. A fast is observed by married women for the long life of their husbands and by unmarried women to get a husband of their choice. It is said that Ma Parvati (another name for Gauri) first observed this fast to get Lord Shiva as her husband and this festival celebrates their union.
Women and girls use scented oil and Haldi ubtan for a ritualistic bath on this day. Five betel leaves with Haldi, Kumkum, akshat (rice grains) and dry fruits are offered to Lord Shiva, Devi Parvati and Lord Ganesha.
In Maharashtra, Gauri arrives 3 days after Ganesh Chaturthi. Here too, Turmeric plays an important part of the offerings to the Goddess.
Interestingly, another name for Turmeric is Gauri (one that is bright and radiant) and it is used along with Kumkum for worshipping the goddess with the same name. According to legend, Gauri or Goddess Parvati created Ganesha with a little amount of the Turmeric paste or ubtan that she had applied on herself for her bath. In India, Turmeric has also been used for ages as an ubtan(face pack) for clarifying the skin and getting a radiant and glowing complexion.
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