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. 

The Gold and Green Goddess
Picture credit: http://www.dollsofindia.com
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.



  1. So very interesting. This tradition is completely unknown to me. And you know so much about hinduism. For us (south Karnataka) today was a pooja for Ganesha’s mother (forgot her name). Lots of prayers, lots of house decorations, lots of guests and sweets. And tomorrow Ganesh Chathurthi begins at 7am. We have to go and collect clay made Ganesha idol which is custom made for the family by same person since many years.


    • Hey Magdalena,
      Thank you so much, my husband tells me a lot of detail, he knows all the stories, and then I go off and research further. Ganesh’s mother is Gauri so we were worshiping the same Goddess!!

      That is so lovely that you Lord Ganesh is custom made by the same person, a lovely tradition!!!

      I hope you are enjoying Ganesh Chathurthi!!

      Take care xxx


  2. Nice pictures and lovely stories behind them. I think you’ve been learning a lot about Indian culture. And as your regular reader, I have also learnt a lot along with your lovely journey in India. Thanks for sharing Lauren!

    Greetings from Switzerland,

    P.S Alfonso is so cute:).


  3. This one is new to me! You look lovely as always. We celebrated Ganesh Chathurthi today with a small pooja. Also there is no festival where men have to undergo any form of discomfort for women so don’t hold your breath (or they will make a pooja out of that too!).
    Happy Ganesh Chathurthi!


  4. Really interesting to learn about this festival! 😀 You look absolutely flawless, really really lovely photos! I especially love the photo where Alfonso is creeping up behind you looking like he is ready to play with your saree!


  5. Lauren, I love this post so much. It gave me a huge strength.. I am sure a TRUE LOVE can overcome all obstacles.. Unfortunately, the fate gives a lot of hardships.. Well, that’s a hard way but it’s WORTH IT! You look beautiful as always, Darling. ❤ Goddess. xxx Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! 🙂


  6. Hey…do you aim to celebrate all the Hindu (Maharashtrian) festivals throughout your entire life? You stay with your in-laws because of which you are guided very well (and probably forced sometimes 😉 ) to celebrate the festivals. What will you do when you will stay in South India as you mention in your blog?
    And do not think that Hinduism is a patriarchal religion. We have some festivals where women pray for men (e.g. Hartalika, Karva Chauth, etc) and some in which men take responsibility of women (e.g. Rakshabandhan, Padwa, etc)


  7. Hello,

    I really like all your blogs. Because you write from heart. I also like because you study and find out the reason behind the customs. Also there is no any festival or day when men fast for women but there should be. Also woman wear all symbols to show she’s married. Funnily we say man’s face is enough to show he is married. But this all came due to the fact that Indian culture is Men dominated but now a days its reducing everyday. Indian laws are so in favor of women if they are implemented correctly women will be much more stronger.


    • Thank you so so much for your lovely comment!!
      I really don’t like doing anything for the sake of it, so I always like to know why everything happens :D. Maybe we can find a festival which male fasting can be incorporated into it! I really want to get wedding bands for my husband and I (as tradition in England). I don’t know much about the legal system in India yet, but I guess you must be right. I have noticed a lot of female police officers in Nagpur though, very encouraging! x


      • Although there is no specific festival during which men fast for their wives, some men do fast during other festivals. I remember a few times when my husband fasted all day and once even waited for me to be able to break the fast (usually women do this). I’ve never fasted for my husband or anyone yet, but we live in the UK (still – not sure how the things will turn out after the Scottish Independence Referendum in September ;)), and not being Indian I am not sure about all the festivals and when they take place.

        Another thing is that my husband keeps telling me that Indian law is constructed in such a way that it favours women in most circumstances. For example if a property is bought by a woman, then she doesn’t have to pay as much tax than a man would have. As a result, many properties are legally owned only by wives in many Indian families, which is also the case in the family of my parents-in-law, even though only my husband’s father earns money.


      • Your husband is sooooo sweet!!! Thank you so much for your lovely comment and information.
        I have also been told that Indian law does favour womem!! Sadly, society is general does not (obviously with exceptions).

        I hope you and your husband are well!

        Thank you again!! xxx


  8. Lauren, I enjoyed this so much! The photos were a wonderful extra to your vibrant writing. Especially liked the phoy o of Alonso 🙂 – Phebe


  9. @Lauren

    Shiva Parvati love story transcends time and space. They were the world’s first love marriage couple. They were also world’s first “Power Couple”. Parvati is the loving wife and doting mother but when demons create trouble she takes the form of fierce Kali to slay them. At that time Shiva has to pacify her. According to Shiva, without Parvati Shiva is not Shiva but merely a Shava (dead body) without Parvati. Some time Shiva forgets that he has a family. He goes to the cremation ground, smears himself with the ashes of dead bodies and goes into deep meditation. Only Parvati can take him out of this state. They understand each other perfectly well. Therefore, girls in India are told to worship Shiva on Mondays to get a husband like him.

    Parvati’s mother major grudge about Shiva was that he was shabby forest dweller. On the day of the marriage, gods decorated Shiva with fine clothes and jeweler which Shiva wore reluctantly because he was not used to them. Parvati’s mother was mesmerized by Shiva’s beauty. Shiva is always beautiful, the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

    Once kali became uncontrollable after slaying demon. Shiva laid down in her way. When kali put her foot on Shiva, she realized her mistake and drew her tongue out. This moment has been immortalized in numerous idols and pictures of goddess kali.

    Those who talk about how patriarchal Indian marriages are, should look at Shiva Parvati marriage based on mutual respect, understanding and love.


    • Hey Friend,
      Thank you so much for another great comment! I really love the story of Shiva and Parvati. I recently bought a book with many of the Hindu tales, although my husband knows most of them very well, it’s always nice to read on paper (and via your comments).

      I guess us women can all become a little like Goddess Kali at times ❤ x


  10. @Lauren

    Hinduism believes that it the female force Adi Shakti which is controlling the universe. It is the female part of of Lord Shiva. At the the time of creation of universe, it got separated from Shiva and became what we know as “Mother Nature”. This creative energy flows in every atom of the universe so the cycle of creation and destruction goes on endlessly. The story of Shiva and Parvati shows that man and women are incomplete without each other and sustain creation and balance in the universe, the contribution of both is absolutely necessary.
    Here are a few mythological videos. Most of them are from a TV serial “Devo Ke Dev Mahadev” (god of gods mahadev or Lord Shiva). It is based on the events in the life of Lord Shiva. You can catch it at 8.00 PM every evening from Monday to Friday on Life Ok Channel. It gives great knowledge about the life of Lord Shiva in an entertaining way. It is great to know about your culture and spirituality. The language is a little archaic but I guess you can always ask your husband for translation.


  11. Hello,
    I came across your blog by chance and found it very interesting. I am glad to see that you are learning and enjoying Indian culture. 🙂

    To get a deeper understanding of East(India) vs West Belief system, I would recommend an interesting bestseller book called “Being Different” (http://beingdifferentbook.com/) by renowned Indo-american author Rajiv Malhotra (http://rajivmalhotra.com/) to get deeper insights about India and its culture.
    The book is very well researched and thorough. It will help you to get more clarity on Indian Culture/belief system.

    Enjoy the festivals and keep blogging!! 🙂


  12. Well ! Men have festivals too. They are usually called ‘Deeksha’. Like Ayyappa (famous in South India) or Shiva. It usually lasts for 45 days and it has hard set of rules which you can never imagine of (Never look into mirror or comb your hair, never have s*** with your wife or even think about it, roam around without footwear, wake up before sun rises, Eat just one time a day, Never touch your wife in her ******, Never speak bad, Never exhibit/get angry over anything, Never call anyone by their name, and a LOT). I guess your husband is a Brahmin, just like me, ask him about this. Moreover, any Brahmin has to do everyday pooja three times a day, which we call ‘Sandhya Vandan’, which is the most and very important pooja done to Sun God. It automatically puts you into half contribution irrespective of you helping him or not.

    BTW, I have been reading your blog ever since you first posted your long – distance relationship. Never bothered to comment, (Guess ! I am lazy :P). This is the second time I am reading this post, and seeing your grandmother just reminded me of grandmother and she is exactly the same 🙂 (she has her own way of doing pooja and has all the patience in the world to perform those 4 hours pooja almost everyday !!)

    May God bless you couple.


    • Thank you for finally speaking, Sheshank 🙂

      Very interesting information! Thank you so much! I love my Grandma so much and she loves her poojas 😀

      I hope you are having a great day, thanks again!

      God bless!


  13. YouTube search for a song called TU RAJA KI RAJ DULARI from the movie “oye lucky lucky oye”. It’s an old folk song. Gauri arrives in front of shiva and demands that he wed her. What follows is shiva questioning her whether she can handle him. The lyrics are metaphorical and their translations are metaphorical too. I guess you’ll find this funny.

    तू राजा की राज-दुलारी, मैं सिर्फ लंगोटे वाला सूं (हूँ का हरियाणवी बोल)
    भांग रगड़ के पिया करूं मैं, उंडी (कटोरा) – सोटे (दंड) वाला सूं
    You sport Tag Heuer and wear Estée Lauder, I a street hoodlum, who just got a mug shot
    I partake controlled substances(hashish), with possessions far and few

    तू राजा की छोरी सै, मेरे एक भी दासी दोस्त नहीं
    शाल दुशाले ओढ़न वाली, म्हारे कम्बल तक भी पास नहीं…
    You a wine glass socialite, I a lonesome antisocial
    You wear cashmere, I naturist by compulsion

    तू बागां की कोयल सै (है) अढे (यहाँ) बर्फ पड़े, हरी घास नहीं
    किस तरयाँ (तरह) दिल लागेगा तेरा, सतरा चौ प्रकाश नहीं
    In your centrally heated room u do karaoke, I a destitute
    There is no glitter of Manhattan here dear, power cuts abound

    किसी साहूकार के (यहाँ ‘से’ के अर्थ में प्रयुक्त) ब्याह करवाले, मैं खाली सोटे वाला सूं.
    Marry an i-Banker lady, raise kids in east coast, I am eternally broke

    मैं धूनी तपा करूँ, तू आग देख के डर जायगी,
    रंग घोल के पिया करूं, मेरा राग देख के डर जायगी
    My Life is not so Rosy, my Rosy, fears it has plenty
    My cannabis induced ecstasy, is the stuff which horror movies are made of

    सौ सौ साल पड़े रहे जल में, तू नाग देख के डर जाएगी.
    तांडव नाच करे बन में, रंग राग देख के डर जायगी
    O’Beauty, I am a beast, fear and trepidation my companions
    My free-style vacillation is no Flamenco

    तने (तुझे) जुल्फां (ज़ुल्फ़) वाला छोरा चाहिए (यानी मोडर्न),
    मैं लाम्बे (लम्बे) चोटे (जटा) वाला सूं.
    Prince charming, well-groomed, with chic hair-do is what u need
    A ruffian with head lice is not what girly dreams are made of!


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