This vrata / religious observance is mentioned in the Bhavishyoththara Purana / Hindu religious texts and is performed by newly married girls for the first five years of their married life. This pooja is performed on the Tuesdays of the Hindu month of Shravana, July-August according to Gregorian calendar dedicated to Goddess Gowri / consort of Lord Shiva. This year (2013) Shravana masa is from 7th Aug to 3rd Sept, Tuesdays of this month are on 13th Aug, 20th August, and 27th August, and 3rd September. On the fifth year the girl has to gift her mother a vessel along with Mangala drowya / auspicious items. This festival is celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra. It is also known as Shravana Mangala Gowri pooja. The method of performing the vratha vary in different regions.
On this day clean the shrine and decorate with rangoli / patterns. Keep a mane / flat wooden platform and spread a blouse piece over it. Over the blouse piece spread a cup of rice. Keep either a silver Mangala Gowri or a Turmeric Gowri. Keep a mirror behind the Mangala Gowri and two blouse pieces, which are folded in a triangle shape on either side of the mirror. Keep 16 betel leaves and 32 betel nuts over it, and a whole dry coconut in a tray, some people halve the dry coconut and fill with rice and keep it on either side of the Gowri. Keep fruits, coconut and Akki / Rice thambittu for naividya / blessed food. Keep aside 16-rice thambittu for aarathi.
Perform the pooja by offering Gejjevastra, Gandha / Sandal paste, Manthrakshathe, Flowers, Incense sticks and deepa / lights. Light the 16 thambittu aarathi and keep a steel spatula smeared with betel leaves juice on the thambittu aarathi to get a black soot, which is mixed with Ghee and applied as kajal / eyeliner.
A song asking for a boon called Mangala Gowri Haadu or Varava Kodi Thayi in Kannada is sung while performing the pooja. The lyrics of the song is as follows:
Varava Kodi Thayi, Varava Kodi
Varava Kodi Gowri Varava Kodi
Kattida Mangalya Karimani Gaajina Bale Sthiravagi Iruvantha
Aralu Mallige Davana
Mahadi Maneya Mele
Jodu Thottila Katti
Kanya Dana Maduvantha
Invite women home and offer Mangala drowya and rice thambittu and do namaskara / obeisance to god and all the elders in the house. By observing this vrata, women believe that they will be blessed with long lasting and successful married life.
Story behind this vratha:
Once upon a time there lived a rich childless businessman. He prayed to God everyday to bestow him with children. Kind hearted Lord Shiva one day appeared before their house in the guise of a sanyasi / monk. The businessman’s wife came out to give alms but the sanyasi moved away to the next house without accepting her alms. When they ask the sanyasi why he did not accept their alms, he replies that he does not accept alms from homes without children. The couple are saddened to hear this and they ask the sanyasi what they should do to beget children. The sanyasi asked them to perform Mangala Gowri pooja.
The couple performed the pooja with a lot of devotion and hope. Goddess Gowri appeared before them and asked them whether they want an intelligent son who will live up to 16 years or a dumb son who will live up to 100. It was a tough choice for the couple but they ask for an intelligent son. Soon a son is born to the couple and they name him Shiva. They take good care of him and as he reached the age of 16, they sent him to Kashi along with his maternal uncle. On the way to Kashi Shiva is married to a girl called Susheela.
On the night of the wedding Goddess Gowri appeared in Susheela’s dream and informs her that a Cobra will bite and kill her husband. To avoid this she tells her to feed the snake with milk and to keep an empty mud pot next to it. Goddess Gowri also tells her that the snake will enter the pot and she has to close the pot with a blouse piece. Susheela does as she was instructed by goddess Gowri and gives away the pot with the snake to her mother. Her mother opened the pot to find a beautiful necklace inside. She puts it lovingly on her daughter. Shiva gets up the next morning, and leaves for Kashi. He comes back after visiting the temple in Kashi with blessings from learned gurus and pandits.
Shiva had heard that his wife Susheela was in the habit of feeding all the people who passed her city. He sat among the people to partake the food and while Susheela was serving him, she recognized Shiva as her husband. They are happily united and Shiva sends word for his parents to join them.