Chaitra, the first Marathi month, starts from Gudi Padwa. It ended yesterday with the amavasya. Chaitra marks the beginning of spring. It is one of the holy months marking the birth of many gods and goddesses like Goddess Durga (Durga ashtami), of Lord Rama (Ram Navami) and that of Lord Hanuman (Hanuman jayanti).
In marathi culture, there is a tradition of worshipping the chaitra-gaur for the whole month. It is actually the pair of Gauri and Lord Shankar commonly called as Chaitra Gaur or Sheetala Gaur. And during this month, these motifs are drawn as rangoli in the courtyard.
These are 51 Shubha Chinha or the auspicious symbols. The story behind these is…
… Lord Shankar in an outburst of emotions and in a furious reaction had the toxic venom, his body and mind became livid. Over regretting, he did many things to keep himself calm and cool… he wrapped a snake around his neck as the snake is supposed to be cool, he took support of the moon over his head etc. In spite of doing all this, his furiousness still resided and he was in need of something more. This time it was when Gauri said that, she will give Shankar the tranquility he required. She herself should be cool, quite and composed first then to give it to Shankar. As it is always said, one needs to be full to give others the fullness. Thus cool and soothing and fortune providing things were worshipped and used. And all these motifs drawn as rangoli represent Gauri’s doings for Shanker. These are 51 motifs which include, the Gauri-Shanker, Ganpati, jhenda, gudi, toran, shankh, saraswati, gada, gay-vasru, nag, mor pankh, basri, Om, swastika, go-padma, garud, hatti, tulsi, shivlingam, panti, kairi, kela, khan-naral, haldi kunku karanda, trishul, surya, fani, aarsa, damri, kasav, sanai-chughade, kamal, dhanusha-baan etc. (all names in Marathi)
It is the commencement of spring and the raw mangoes. It is during this month when haldi-kunku is a function celebrated by Marathi women and a mouth-watering preparation of raw mango with dal called as kairi chi dal and panha (a raw mango drink also called as aam panna in hindi) is made to feast the taste buds!!
Along with these rangoli motifs, the kairi chi dal and panha form a part of my interest!!! :)