Friday, September 10, 2010

Gauri Pooja/ Vaina Pooja/ Tai - An Essay

We celebrate Gauri Pooja/ Tai/ Vaina Pooja the day before Shukla Chaturthi which falls in Bhadrapad month as per the Hindu calendar. It's a holy and auspicious occassion for married ladies or 'Savashini'. This pooja is performed the day before Ganesh Chaturthi. This pooja honors Gauri also known as Parvati, mother of Lord Ganesh.

The rituals begin the day before where married women get dehusked coconuts and decorate them. During the entire process of pooja, the ladies are advised to follow no garlic - no onion diet. Some do it the previous day for sheer ease or convenience. Coconuts in batches of odd numbers of 3, 5, 7, 11 or 21 are worshipped. Some families who have this as a ritual practice, some families do not have it as a ritual hence do not practice it. The choicest, fresh and large coconuts brimming with water are chosen for the pooja. My grandmon, the pious, strict and precise person that she is, did the decoration the first thing after early morning head-bath without partaking breakfast and with no onion-no garlic diet.

The coconuts symbolic of Gauri devi are de-husked with a sharp sickle (Koita in Konkani) to look completely huskless. Thereafter, the coconuts are washed in Turmeric water (Haldi Udda). Once they are washed, the coconuts are ready for decoration. The three holes in the Coconut symbolise Gauri's face. The eyes are decorated with 'Kajal' the Indian black colored kohl, the mouth is decorated with 'Sindhur', an orange colored vermillion which is usually adorned by married women on their forehead. Even Turmeric (Haladi) is used as a substitute. The forehead is adorned with Sandalwood paste made from fresh ground sandal wood, ground on Saani. The area where the coconut can be exactly halved is covered with a while line usually done with a white chalk. Thereafter the Vaina as they are called, are spread on a huge plantain leaf, each of the Vaina perched on a mound of rice. Neivedyam of choice is offered, some offer Godu Phovu, Karanji, Chane Panchakajjaya, etc. At my native, the lunch components are also offered as part of the Neivedyam. A potrait of Gauri and Mahadev is worshipped along side. The Gauri is adorned with mangalsutra, bangles. Before the traditional Arathi (traditional hymns sung in praise of the lord) and Pooja, the earthen lamps are placed in front of each of the coconuts.

Pooja concludes with the Coconuts offered to every married lady attending and participating in the pooja ceremony. Some even distribute the coconuts/ Vaina after the ceremony is over. These Vaina can be given any time to any married lady, preferably within the period of Bhadrapad or before Anant Chaturdashi, the 14th day before the Shukla period concludes. The traditional food includes Khotto, Patrodo, Phodi, Daalithoi, Upkari, Godshe, Saaru, Modak, Chakuli, Undo, etc. After the Pooja, the food is partaken by all members of the family.

This ritual is also symbolic of the significance of a mother and also celebrates the respect and reverence offered to women in the family. This is the time of the year when I miss my family the most - especially my Mom, Dad and my In-Laws. I believe when you are miles away from your kith and kin, you learn to value and appreciate the importance of family, togetherness and happiness that's come along with it which is often taken for granted. Hence, I celebrate this in my own little way with my family around to relinquish the moments gone by, welcome & appreciate the present and aspire for a bright and prosperous future for my family and friends.


  1. Even I adore this tradition of vaina pooja as even I do it every year ..ur blog is very good with yummy konkani traditional food recipes:)

  2. @ Sushma Mallya - Thanks. I love to celebrate these traditions which are quie symbolic. Glad you like my blog. :)


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