According to the Hindu religion, there happen 16 Sanskars in the life of all persons like birth, school initiation, marriage, death, etc. Marriage is an important sanskara in the life of every human. Unlike the philosophies of the western world where marriage is a sort of bonding of two souls. Indian weddings are not only the carnal relationship or the medium of prolongation of species.
Unlike the social thinkers like G.B show who considers the marriage merely the source of procreation, Indians believe the marriage to be the union of two souls and of two families. Most of the Hindus believe that marriages are fixed beforehand and the script is written in heaven.
Sharing of JanamKundali- The starting of Indian Weddings
The first thing done by the parents is to share the Janamkundali both the parents of the groom and bride show the natal astrological charts to the learned astrologers. The astrologers do an intensive search and calculate Gunas (qualities) of both boys and girls.
They also keep in mind if any of them does not have Manglik dosh. In case both are Non-Manglic then according to Jantri the date of Marriage rituals is decided. If any of them is Manglic it is kept in mind whether it is Pintail or full for absolving from Manglic disorder special worship of done and sometimes work a marriage of Kanya is done with Banyan tree or black dog.
Role of Barber and Pandit in Indian weddings
In ancient times Indian society the barber caste was considered as the matchmaker and was esteemed high for their decisive role. They used to suggest the real matches of the bride and grooms. After the fixing of the wedding in all rituals, their presence was important. Presently in modern society, their role has been limited to wedding ceremonies only. The people take the help of matrimonial sites and the classified in the newspaper. Similarly, the pundits (religious clergy) also play a major role in solemnizing the marriage rituals.
Though it is hard to pen down all the rituals as they might vary place to place and region to another region, even I am trying to assimilate as much as possible.
In this ceremony, the father of the bride goes to the groom’s family. In the presence of elders and relatives, he proposes for the marriage of his daughter by placing some coins on the palm of the groom and sweets are distributed. Later the bride’s family invites the groom and other members of his family for the next ceremony.
God Bharai- Another important event of Indian Weddings
This ceremony is solemnized at the bride’s house when the groom’s family goes to the bride’s house with the sweets, fabrics ornaments, etc. These things are put in the lap of the bride and both families indulge in talks and feast is ensued.
Pili Chitthi (yellow letter)- Before the engagement, a letter is written by the pundits inviting the groom’s father mother and members for the proposed marriage rituals. A date is fixed for further ceremonies like engagement and wedding date. This letter is wrapped in the yellow colored paper along with the seeds of turmeric. Turmeric is considered auspicious.
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Invitation of Bhat- Important ceremony in Indian Weddings
This ceremony is done by both families – the groom and the bride. In this ritual, the bride and groom go to the house of either parents / Brother for trusting them for the wedding and to gain help.
This ritual is influenced by the legend ” Narasi ka Bhat” where Narasi being so poor pleads for help for manage and lord comes as a savior.
What is story of Narasi Ka Bhat?
Narsi Bhat is a legendary story that relates to a devout of Lord Krishna named as Narshi Mehta. This man belonged to a business community and inherited large amount of money from his father along with his three other brothers. With the passage of time, the three brothers accumulated much wealth and forgot the lord. Narsi had to suffer a lot of business turmoils and became pauper but his devotion to the Lord could not be minimized.
One day the four brothers got an invitation of Bhaat ceremony from their sister’s side, The three brothers declined to join the ceremony of a poor sister, while Narsi was adamant to help her sister and increase her honor despite his poverty. As this poor man was moving with his cart having the bare gifts, Lord Krishna decided to help his devotee. Narsi fell into a sleep and lord Krishna drove his cart.
How Lord Krishna helped Narasi?
Upon reaching the ceremony started and all the spectators got stunned to see the gifts. Narsi has nothing in his bag to gift when he starts gifting to the family members but with the blessing of Lord Krishna, his bag was full of clothes, gifts, jewelry and silver, and gold coins. He gifts everything to the family members and to the entire village but his bag was still full of things with the blessing of Lord Krishna.
Sagai Rasam (Engagement)
In this ritual, the bride’s family members come on a fixed date for Sagai. This is a major event before marriage in which Puja is done by Pandit with the Chanting of Vedic Mantras the groom is gifted with token money, clothes and other objects by the brother of the bride. He gives a betel leaf to the would-be brother in law. Later a feast for everyone is arranged.
Lagan: – In this ritual, another paper is written which is known as Lagan. The barber goes to the house of the groom.
Tel, Haldi, Mehndi Rasam
As it is evident that mustard oil, turmeric, and henna have their respective qualities and they are used in making Many Ayurvedic drugs and body lotions, etc. Thus they play an auspicious role in the wedding traditions. Both groom and bride are bathed on the first day in oil and thus treated for better looks- Next day they are applied turmeric therapy. Similarly another day they are given Henna treatment.
The ladies involved in folk dances, wedding songs such as Ghori Banna at the house of the groom whereas at the house of bride barnis are sung.
Ghoora Poojan – Before Mehandi ceremony the pit of cow dung is worshipped (ancient Indian society being an agrarian society they knew the importance of manure-Cowdung so in marriage ceremony the cow dung is venerated).
This ceremony happens before marriage procession. For pitching of the mandap, Mali is requested to bring the leaves and branches of the mango tree along with sticks of bamboo. They are placed in the garden lawn with some other puja stuff like barley seeds and this is stuck together with the help of sacred thread. Before commencing the marriage rituals, this ceremony is very important. On the eve of mandap rice and curry are prepared as a dish and the relatives savor that. As the nikrosi time comes this mandap is shaded by the brother in law of the groom. The groom sits under the mandap and the other rituals are performed.
Sehra and Kalangi
Sehra plays an important part of marriage rituals. In the old Hindu society the maali who used to make the sehra used to come bringing the decorative sehras made of the bamboo tied with the peacock plums. While the groom used to depart for the nikarausi he was covering his head with this sehra and this used to provide a look like a maharaja with the crown going on the war expediture.
What is Kajal Rasam?
This rasam is very important and performed in every Hindu marriage, According to the rituals when groom ready to proceed for Ghjurchari with new clothes, Sehra garland other things sister in law(Bhabhi) apply kajal (Black soot) in grooms eyes to avoid the evil spell.
Nikrosi and Ghur Chadi
This is the official procession before Barat with the accompaniment of music and says, the group of ladies and family members go to a well (Again the agrarian values come into play and water is the most precious commodity for a farmer). The mother of the groom has the promise from the son’s if he would bring the bride “otherwise she is going to jump into the well. This threat of the mother is accepted and she stops doing that”.
Mother also performs rituals using her sari known as ‘Maa ka Anchal’
In this Nikrosi celebration, the groom is taken to a nearby temple to have the blessings of the lord for a pleasurable now union.
Once the groom leaves the home after Nikrosi, he is not supposed to return to his home, until he comes with the bride.
Jan Masa Welcome
Now the Barat(marriage procession) starts to reach the community center, known as Jan masa. In the village, Jan masa can be a school, orchard or panchayat building. All the Barati’s are greeted and snacks are served.
The Role of Bhats in Janmasa
In the older time, the Barats used to stay for 2 or three nights and were called as Badhai stay. During this course of time, there were various means of entertainment some Baraties used to involve in sports and fun games.
The Bhats or bards used to come to entertain the Baraties and they used to sing heroic songs. They were also singing in the praise of their lords.
With the accompaniment of the marriage band and lights, the groom departs riding a horse. The fellows and relatives indulge in merriments, singing and dance. This all goes on nearly for 1 to 2 hours until this procession reaches the wedding place or the house of the bride. The groom riding the appearance of a martial or warrior who used to come in the medieval times to woo the brides after being victorious.
The bridal makeup is a very old tradition and we can find the routes of it in the old scriptures. The epic of Kalidas Abhigyan Shakuntalam narrates how the ladies use to decorate themselves on the festival occasions and marriage festivities by applying natural colors extracted from the vegetables and stones .
Modern bridal makeup is a kind of thing Once the Baraat reaches JanMasa the bridal starts makeup to get ready to be on the stage for the garlanding ceremony. in present, we have so many parlous who offer bridal makeup packages at every place.
In this tradition, the groom’s brother in law goes to the house of the bride with a pot of barley and hands over this to the mother of the bride. Later these barley grains are used by the members during the Palkachar ceremony. These members throw the barley grain during the perambulation of the bed sitting with the bride and groom after Phere ceremony.
Bari puri refers to the box or suitcases having the clothes, ornament and other articles of usage of the bride. This box is sent from the groom’s side to the bridal house.
This ceremony occurs while the groom comes at the gate of the bride. He is welcomed there. In the meantime, the bride with the maids and companion comes hiding herself to have the first glimpse of her would-be husband and throws rice grains on the groom. This practice in ancient times had the significance to provide option to the bride to see whether she likes the groom or not?
Later on, the groom descends from the horse and walks to Puja place having a Chowki where he is offered honor like a king. The gate is decorated by putting the utensils in a decorative mode. Later the tilak ceremony is performed.
This ceremony is based on the pattern of ancient Swayamvar (Swayam in Sanskrit means self, var means the groom, so the fair sex in ancient culture had this luxury of selecting the would-be soul mate themselves) culture. Two Grand Maharaja seats or Sofas are places on the decorated stage first the groom takes the seat. The bride is taken with a group of companions along with the merriments. She is provided shade of saree or scarf and the famous wedding Bollywood songs are sung.
How the stage ceremony of Indian weddings resembles Swayambar ?
Now she comes on the stage and she offers a garland to the groom and he also reciprocates the same way. Now both of them take their seats and the photo session is done. The relatives and the elder men come to bless them. Later the dinner is served. Now the bride and the groom sit together to relish their first dinner together.
Phera Ceremony during Indian weddings
This is actually the marriage ceremony where the vows are exchanged and the Gods are invoked to bless the bride and the groom.role of the priest starts when the Pandits from each side sit along with the bride and groom. Yajna (sacrificial fire) is done where the Fire God (Agni)is the witness and various other God are offered sacrificial offerings and the blessings are sought. There are 7 Bachan ( 7 Commandments) to the bride and to the groom.
These commandments are like thoughts of how the couple should live together and what are their duties to each other. The bride and groom are tied together in the nuptial knot.
Kanyadan Ceremony of Indian Weddings
Beforehand the tradition of Kanyadan is performed in which the bride’s parents offer the hand of Kanya (Bride) to the groom. The hands of the bride are immersed in the turmeric powder and made pale. After the Phera ceremony both the bride and groom become a married couple like a pair of swan to perform their role in the world.
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Palka Char (Tika)
The next day in the morning the couple is seated on a bed and the groom is honored with Tika (ceremonial mark of respect on the forehead) by each family member and is offered gifts. In the same time, the sister in law of the groom plans to chide the groom by hiding his pair of shoes so that he cannot move after the tika ceremony. Thus the atmosphere is made jovial, the young sisters of the bride sure succeed in getting gifts from the groom.
Bidai Rasm of Indian weddings
This is a very sensitive moment when the bride leaves her parents for her new home. Everybody has tears in the eyes and with a heavy heart, she leaves with her husband in a cab. The coins’ dry fruits and grain are thrown over the cab.
The arrival of couple after the wedding
Now the couple approaches the house after marriage. The cab driver does not allow the newlyweds to leave the car without him getting a bounty for his service. The same way the groom’s sisters prevent the couple to enter the gate. Small arguments take place and bargain is settled with rasam. The groom gives the money in return to enter the house.
The Breaking of Deepak Rasm of Indian weddings
Now the earthen lamps (Diyas) are placed in an inverted way. The bride is asked to walk on them and later the couple is asked to print the auspicious marks of handprints immersed in turmeric over the wall. This tradition is known as the thresh hold worship or DehriPoojan.
Temple visit and opening of Kangan
Now the couple is taken to the family temple to seek the blessings of the god and goddess. Later the Kangan is opened which is put around the wrist of bride and groom on the eve of tel and tai ceremony. Now the bride and groom’s brother involve in pranks and bride gifts some money to Dewar (husband’s younger brother)
This night ladies involve in marriage sangeet(music). On the thumps of Dholak dance and merriment goes on for couple of hours. Even the bride is asked to dance or sing. Such trend is created in many Bollywood movies. Worth to mention – “Ham Apke Hain Kon” the ladies of the vicinity congregate together and snacks are served and these ladies are gifted with some mementos.
After the Ladies Sangeet, the couple enjoys the night in privacy. They are provided cozy and decorated rooms. The bride offers a glass of milk to the groom to drink. Both of them enjoy talking together and sleep together playing cupid.
The consecutive day the bride is asked to show her culinary skills. This ceremony is called as Kadhai Poojan in which after performing proper ritual she prepares some sweet dishes for the family.
Presence of Hijras in Indian weddings
It is traditional in India for the Hijras or the transgender to come to the house of the groom after the marriage ceremony has been solemnized, normally they come in a group of 2 or three and start singing. Later they bless the bride for early conception. These hijras are given bakshish or tips.
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The arrival of Bahurupias during Indian weddings
Bahuripiya signifies the person who is a sort of impressionist. This tradition was prevalent in ancient times. The Bahurupiya used to come to the houses in which marriage has taken place. On the arrival of the bride, normally Bahurupiya used to come in the form of police and threatening the family with dowry case. Later on, they were disclosing their identity and asked for alms.
Dasai and Gauna
After a couple of days stay the bride departs to her parent’s house. Later on, a decided time tradition of Gauna is done while the bride returns back to her husband’s house to enjoy a sweet life.