Hartalika: Honouring the Green & Golden Goddess

I never imagined I would be making phallic looking symbols out of sand with my grandmother and mother-in-law, but that’s what we did this morning during our two hour Hartalika pooja (prayer).  This festival is for women to celebrate the day Lord Shiva accepted the green and golden goddess, Gauri (a form of Goddess Parvati) as his wife. Lord Shiva and Gauri represent the divine masculine and divine feminine energy of the universe, their souls inseparable. 

Gold and Green Goddess: Hartalika

Golden and green saree

Each of us made Lord Shiva and Gauri with five handfuls of sand, on this day our husbands become Lord Shiva and so we are actually making idols of our husbands as the God. Lord Shiva is usually worshiped in the form of a Shiva linga, some scholars consider this to be a representation of the divine male energy (the phallus) which produced the seed which created the universe, whilst others find this extremely offensive and see it as an auspicious symbol (a literal translation of the Sanskirt word linga) of the formless and omnipotent Lord Shiva. Gauri, the divine feminine, is placed besides Lord Shiva as small quarts stones found in the same sand.

Hartalika Gauri, making a Shiva Lingam (Sneaky Pug in the background)

Making my husband out of sand

We then preformed a, what seemed to me, complicated pooja. There were lots of placing flowers, removing flowers, throwing rice, curd, a variety of leaves, cotton and water. Each item having its own significance.The quartz stones of Gauri were adorned with small manglesutras, sindoor and bangles, she was even given some coal for her eyes. A left handed person, like myself, can find a pooja difficult because everything should be done with the right hand, I had to be corrected several times. Grandma chanted mantras throughout and told the story of Hartalika.

Women of the family, celebrating Hartalika pooja

Gauri loved Lord Shiva very deeply, she lived many lives of suffering, waiting and longing to be united with him. In one of these lives, her father was a King and had found her a husband, but she refused as she had vowed to love only Lord Shiva. Gauri’s best friend went with her into a thick forest so Gauri could not be marred against her will. There they stayed, living a simple life of penance and prayer, waiting for Gauri’s true love to come.

Lord Shiva saw this and he came to cave where the two women were living and finally married Gauri. That day, overjoyed, Gauri and her best friend observed a fast for Lord Shiva. So, not only is this festival about romantic love, it also honours the love and loyalty between female friends.

hartalika gauri shiva lingam poojahartalika gauri shiva lingam, celebrating with flowershartalika gauri shiva lingam flowers basil, leaves of Indiahartalika pooja

Today, women fast and stay up all night together as a tribute to the many life times of penance and austerity that Gauri, and her friend, endured so Gauri and Lord Shiva could be married. After all, wouldn’t we all do anything for the our friends?

Alfonso was very well behaved and sat behind me the entire time, he did very well for his first pooja. Tomorrow we will immerse the three Lord Shiva idols (our husbands) in the nearby lake before welcoming Lord Ganesh (the son of Lord Shiva and Gauri) into our home (Ganesh Chathurthi starts tomorrow!).

Happy Hartalika! May true love and friendship overcome all obstacles and hardships.

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My First Karva Chauth

The moon, Chanda. on my first Karva Chauth

Today was my first Karva Chauth and also my first fast! Karva Chauth is an annual Hindu festival observed by married women. The women fast from sunrise until moon rise on the fourth day after the full moon in the Kartik month … Continue reading

A life transforming 10 months

It has been just over 10 months since my Husband and I introduced ourselves to each other. So much has happened since then. We fell in love, he flew to London, we met in person, he moved from America back to India, I finished my masters degree, I traveled to Morocco, then to India, met my in-laws, got married, came back to England, graduated, moved into a new flat by myself and started a new job (technically…all of that happened in eight months, the last two months have just been working and Skyping)!

What a difference such a small amount of time can make to a person’s life. Not only has my marital status changed but the way I think about myself has also changed.  When someone you love with all your heart loves you unconditionally, loving everything about you, you too start to love yourself. Before I met my husband my self esteem was hitting rock bottom, I was even losing my self- respect. Through the abundance of love my husband has given me I have realised that I do deserve to be happy. He makes me feel like a Queen, just as all women deserve to feel. I don’t think someones self esteem should depend on another but he really helped me open my eyes and cherish myself.

Everyone of us deserve happiness, there are people in this world that will try and push you down to make themselves feel better. Fortunately, there are also those people you make you see that you are special and show you how beautiful life can be.

Graduation in front of flowers

The past 10 months have changed my life. I am just so grateful to my husband for being such an amazing support throughout all of my ups and downs during this ‘growth spurt’.