The Gana Gour festival is celebrated with much gaiety in Madhya Pradesh. The people believe that Gour, wife of Shiva, was married to Shiva and they stayed in Rajasthan. She could come home only once a year. This coming back is celebrated by these people here. They make small idols of the Gour and worship her along with her husband. The
Gordhan festival celebrated after Diwali has its history in the legend of Krishna, who saved his village from drowning by holding the mighty
Govardhan Mountain. Gordhan is celebrated as the festival of cows and cattle. The cattle is decorated and fed goodies on this day.
The womenfolk of Malwa observe Gana-Gour twice a year. Once in the month of
Bhadra and the other in the month of Chaitra. But the importance is given to the
Chaitra Teej, i.e. the third day of the bright half of Chaitra (March -
April). The preliminaries of the festival are started just after
Holi and conclude on Chaitra Teej. The post-Holi period punctuates the changes of the season. For unmarried girls, it signalizes the arrival of puberty. Prior to the
Gana-Gour day girls go to the riverside singing traditional songs, and return home with jars full of water and green leaves. The ritual is called
Phul-Pati which means flowers and leaves.
Gana-Gour festival includes offering of grown wheat or blades of rice to the idols by married women. The ritual is made for the blossoming of married life and the welfare of the community. In
Surguja district, after completing the ceremonial rituals women dance the Karna which lasts the whole night. In
Malwas the puja is performed daily in the evening till the concluding day. It follows the traditional dance around the idol. The dance is extremely simple. It consists of circular movements round the images of
Gana-Gour. All such performances are arranged in the houses with large courtyards. At the end sugar-bubbles, (batasha) are distributed among the gathering by the host. On the last day of the festival, the idols are led out in procession to bid ceremonial farewell at river-banks or tanks. The
Gana-Gour of the Dhakars are taken out in procession with the beating of drums and the playing of musical instruments.
Gana-Gour is repeated on the third day of Bhadra in the form of
Kajli Teej to confirm the setting in of the rainy season. Swings are put on all the big trees of the village. A festive look is given to the houses and songs are once again echoed. In
Chhattisgarh lyrics are sung in praise of goddess Durga and Mother
Sharda. The sentiments of newly-married girls also find expression in may of the songs.
The festival corresponds with the Gavar of Rajasthan. Gaura is a parallel festival celebrated in Chhattisgarh, the only exception being that it falls in Kartika instead of Chaitra or Bhadra.