But like Tij, Gaura is essentially a festival of, by and for women. Gaura songs are performed at predetermined times encapsulating the lifestyle and values of the entire community here in the remote mountains of western Nepal. The songs are about the courtship of Gaura and Maheswor (Siva and Parvati for easterners), a woman’s experience of childbirth, and many other social events.
The lyrics outline social customs like the dates of festivals, and behaviour expected from men and women. Some songs describe which food is found in what season, and even where to find water. The festival serves as an elaborate information and communication system set in song long before mass media served that purpose. The songs instill a knowledge of roles, values, and social mores, and help people feel rooted in the community.
The Gaura platform still gives women in a society steeped in patriarchy a rare chance to voice their perspective and provide valuable insight into women’s lives and thoughts. On the fourth day of the festival, women dance with the image of Gaura and send her off to her husband’s home, singing songs of bereavement.
However, the Gaura Festival, like Tij, while allowing women to let off steam hand serve an emancipating role, also establishes the gender status quo, instructing women them about their place in society.
Read also: Songs of our past, Amar Gurung