An extremely significant festival celebrated in Karnataka, Gowri Habba or Gowri festival is celebrated just a day prior to Ganesh Chaturthi where the mother of Lord Ganesha and the wife of Lord Shiva, Goddess Gowri is worshipped as she is deemed to the very incarnation of Adi Shakti Mahamaya. She is also considered the most powerful goddess of all. Believed to have the ability to bless her devotees with valour, power and courage, Goddess Gowri is also worshipped in the other parts of India, like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
To appease Goddess Gowri, Swarna Gowri Vratha is performed on the 13th day or Thagide of the month of Bhadrapada when the goddess is warmly welcomed to her parents’ abode, just a day before Ganesh Chaturthi, when her son Ganesha comes to as if to take her back to her home to Kailasha. On this day, a symbolic idol resembling the goddess is made out of turmeric by the Hindu women and young girls decked up in traditional ethnic attire. These idols are called Jalagauri or Arishinadagauri. Although beautifully painted premade idols of Gowri can be found in the local market, along with Ganesha Statues, at some households, the idols are still made from scratch at home. A beautiful Mandapa adorned with mango leaves and banana stems is built around the idol which is mounted on a plate with rice or wheat as its base. According to the Vrata, an Asthis Pooja is to be performed with dedication and cleanliness. Adorned with decorations made out of cotton, flower garlands, silk saree, Gowri is decorated and the women following the rituals of the vrata, receive a sacred thread with 16 knots or the ‘gauridaara’, which is said to carry the blessings of the goddess as part of the vrata. Something of a package sort is prepared to be offered to the Goddess and is known as baagina. 13 packages of turmeric, vermillion, black beads for mangalsutra, black bangles, a comb, a mirror, a blouse piece, a coconut, cereal, bale bicchole, rice, tur dal, wheat or rava,a small cube of jaggery and green daal are made out of which 1 bagina is offered to the shrine and the rest are distributed amongst married women.
In Karnataka and most of South India, families gather together to celebrate this pious occasion. Gifts and money is exchanged as a representation of Mangala- Dravya from the parents or family of the married women to their daughters. Many mouth watering delicacies like payasa, obbattu,bajji, holige, kosambari, etc., are prepared and offered to the deity which is later served and shared as prasadam between friends and family. The celebrations stretch up to the next day till the arrival of Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi.