In Thal, Gauri pooja starts at midnight with the a lady swooning and performing the act of "khelane". Where the belief is that the Gauri makes her appearance in a chosen women. In Koli Gauri is called just Gaur. This Gauri pooja took place at Deewane Family's old home. Sapna and me attended there as my Savitri Atya does her pooja there. Every lady has her own Gauri depending on which family she belongs to before marriage. When I was a kid I would accompany my Mom to Sakharkar family's Gaur. This is also a way of retaining their maternal relations and identity.
Shevanthi does the Gauri Khelane, you also see her along with Manubai with whom she has decorated the Gaur.
The next day noon is the main pooja where a picture of Gauri is put on a chair and she is decked up with a saree and lots of flowers. It is very colorful and vibrant. Fruits and some vegetables and maize is hung from the roof as signs of fertility. The senior woman of the hosting home does the offering of the Vaan (symbols of fertility) consisting of a Soop (that wicker flat basket) filled with coconut, vegetables and fruits, haldi kunku. Then the rest of the visiting women are allowed to make their offering and prayers. Soon you see a heap of flowers and fruits in front of the Gauri.
Following this aukshan/ aarti is done, haldi kunku is exchanged with other women. The senior women relatives give the younger ones money for green bangles. It is like showing that the younger women's fertility and well being of the married couple is very important to them. Sapna got hers from Shevanthibai and Manubai, she was shy to accept money from these people who she did not know are related to us in a distant way, I coaxed her to accept and take their blessings. Though this festival is very important for married women, unmarried also participate in a big way.
After the pooja the women go to their maternal home for lunch. In homes that do not have Ganpati make a chicken meal for their returning daughter. While for the women who abstain from meat during Ganpati (In my family's case we are vegetarian) there is a vegetarian spread. Except the non veg dish other items on the Taat are the almost the same. It goes like this, Hirva Masala Moog Dal, Dhaan , pickle, papad, God Ghari, any dried beans bhaaji, Tomatochi Bhaaji(this one is the star) or Barik Methi Moog Dal
The rest of the day is filled with dancing at the family homes of people hosting the Gaur. In my family like I mentioned my Mom went to the Sakharkarachi Gaur, Mothi Aai and Savitri Aatya to Deewanyachi Gaur and Devaki Kaki to Chaipatlachi Gaur. While Aruna Kaki went to Colaba in Mumbai.
Again at night the women gather to sing songs and dance to the rythym of the dhol. When we were kids we loved Manubai's dhol prowess and we would sing, dhabuk chav dhupchav, dhabuk chav dhup chav! Ever heard a dhol emitting those bols ;) LOL. Many a times Manubai would leave the dhol and pluck a twig from a near by Nigurdi or Bhendi Tree and give it in our hands to make us look like cheer leaders :P
The koli dance you see on TV is choreographed and not essentially Koli though the music is. The true koli dance is lifting one hand in the air, bent at the elbow and the other folded across the midriff along with the bending legs one at a time and limping in a circle. It is a very graceful dance and not at all filmy or tamasha like. However now the stage performances have evolved to suit the demands of the public.
The music played on the loudspeaker at the Gauri celebration is cassettes of Koligeete sung by some popular talent. Infact I met one such Koli / Agri geet singer at Charu's home. He is known by his orchestra Dadu's. He is thoroughly entertaining what with his heavy jewelry. He is a celebrity in the Koli community (I had never heard of him). He was dressed in black and gold jazzy clothes and looked like the nth version of Bappi Lahiri and his car, Oh boy! was a large specially designed vehicle painted in shades of pink and a keyboard theme and a doodle of Dadu's written across the sides. I was impressed how he took his image so seriously even on a private visit. My multi-talented Jiju is also a citizen journalist and he meets and befriends a lot of weird people you see! Imagine the recall I have, I am even mentioning this guy, Dadu's on this blog, I had winced when I was introduced to him. If Ajay-Atul can change the Marathi music world with their superb folk music then this caricature can atleast make koli music noticeable with his glam sham he thinks, may be. Bayanchi (Devi in Koli) Gaani gaato mhane. Aso, wish he evolves to give koli music a better taste.
Gaurubai Vachav :P !!