marriages are full of symbolic rituals. They serve as guidelines to the couple
on leading a happy married life. Gujaratis believe that after marriage, the wife
becomes her husband's sahdharmacharini or equal. With marriage comes
responsibility and power. In fact, it is the wife who must keep house and look
after all the household requirements.
Performed a few days before the
wedding, the families of bride and groom pray to Lord Ganesh the Hindu God who
is believed to remove all obstacles and seek his divine blessing.
The groom arrives at the bride's
house to seek the blessings of his mother-in-law. He must bow his head and
clutch his nose. This gesture symbolises his humility and understanding of the
tremendous sacrifice that his future wife is about to make. She will, after all,
be leaving behind a life without cares, changing her name and taking on the
responsibilities of running his household. The groom's prospective mother-in-law
blesses him and performs a small ritual to ward off the evil eye.
It is the most important ritual for
any Hindu marriage in which the parents of the bride give away their daughter to
the son-in-law. It is done in front of a sacred fire and conducted by the
acharya. The parents of the bride wash the groom's feet as they believe that he
is none other than the Hindu Lord, Vishnu, to whom they are handing over his
rightful consort, the Goddess Laxmi in the form of their daughter.
The groom's scarf is tied to the
bride's saree. This knot and the joined hands of the couple symbolise the union
of two souls joined together in holy matrimony. The acharya chants mantras to
invoke the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Parvati for the saubhagyavrata
or wife. The couple is blessed by the family and the relatives.
The couple go around the fire and the
acharya chants mantras. The couple must go around the holy fire seven times
which is called satapadi. The groom chants mantras with each step. Through these
mantras he seeks his bride's support and makes a particular request to her with
each step. Thus, he makes seven requests totally. Among these requests are that
his wife take good care of the house, cook wholesome and healthy meals for their
family, be thrifty with money, be an understanding and supporting partner to
him, etc. The bride, on her part, promises to fulfill these requests.
The reception is usually held
immediately after the wedding. It is an opportunity for relatives, friends and
well-wishers to bless the newly weds, enjoy a sumptuous meal with them and give
The bride leaves for the groom's
house in a specially decorated car.
The bride is
given a grand welcome by her mother-in-law who performs a small ritual. She
places a vessel, filled to the brim with rice, at the entrance of the house. The
bride must knock the vessel down gently with her right foot, spilling some of
the rice over. The rice is a symbol of wealth and by following the ritual she
conveys her full understanding of her duties responsibilities towards her new
Maharashtrian weddings, the emphasis is more on Sanskar. The couple are
initiated into Grihasthashram- a vow taken by both to unite and be together all
their life while pursuing dharma, artha, kama, moksha. The bride asks the groom
to promise her that he will never violate her limits - maryada - the groom asks
her to always remain steadfast. They lovingly agree to devotion and have
On a day before the wedding day,
haldi powder is applied on the bride and the groom at their respective homes.
The bride's mother does puja after
the arrival of the groom at the marriage venue. She washes the groom's feet by
pouring a little water over his feet in a plate, does kumkum tilak, puts akshata
on groom's head, does arati and gives some sweet or madhupak (mixture of honey
and curd). Groom's mother gives the bride five saris, jewellery etc.
The wedding ceremony begins with the
puja of Lord Ganesha and the parents of the bride/groom prays to the God to
bless them so that the wedding takes place without any problems.
The bride attired in a yellow sari
given by her maternal uncle and mundavalya (decorative strings of pearls, beads,
flowers) tied on the forehead apart from other jewellery and facial make-up is
all ready to get married.
The groom first puts a garland around
the bride's neck. The bride also does the same. Then holy water is applied from
the kalash to the eyes of bride and groom and perform arati. Ladies are given
haldi-kunku and all are given sweets mostly pedha.
Bride's father gives the bride away
to the groom. The priest asks the groom to join both the palms and receive in it
stream of holy water poured by bride's mother while bride's father says that he
is giving away in marriage his daughter to this gentleman so that both of them
can start together a life of Dharma, Artha and Kama.
Chanting mantras, the groom puts
mangalsutra around bride's neck.
The priest asks the couple to take
seven steps. The groom, with his right hand, holds the bride's left hand and
starts taking step towards the north-east direction. First, the right foot is
taken forward and then the left foot is joined with it while chanting mantras.
Like this, seven steps are taken. At every two feet, small heaps of rice are
kept on which they are supposed to tread. The couple asks for seven needs of
life - one each at each step. These are food, strength, wealth, happiness,
progeny, pleasure of enjoying various seasons and immortal friendship. The
priest says that this sanskar has extremely strengthened the bond of friendship
between you (the couple) and may your lives be united like two bodies with a
After the reception where the newly
married couple is blessed comes the time to bid a goodbye. The couple touch the
feet of elders and the bride meets with all family members who give her a
tearful hug. The couple sits in a vehicle and the procession, with a band and
fireworks, goes to the groom's place.
The couple is welcomed with arti by
the groom's mother. The bride topples map - a measuring vessel - filled with
rice. A white sheet is spread in front of the couple and the bride dips her feet
in a thali filled with a watery kumkum paste and places it on the sheet. These
are considered Lakshmi's steps.
The Tamilians believe in simple
living, hence their weddings are not necessarily extravagant affairs. A large
wedding hall is booked for the occasion and decorated with flowers and lights.
The date for the wedding is fixed after consulting the Hindu calendar. Panda
The family of the bride and groom take the blessings of the family deity to
ensure that the wedding preparations proceed smoothly. Usually, this small
ritual is performed one day before the wedding.
When the groom and his family arrive at the wedding hall on the morning one day
before the wedding, they are welcomed with a tray containing offerings of
flowers, paan supari, fruits and mishri. Rose water is sprinkled on the groom.
The bride's brother applies a tilak (dot or line) of sandalwood paste and kumkum
on his forehead and garlands him. The bride's mother offers the groom's parents
offer a sweet dish prepared from condensed milk. A senior female member of the
bride's family performs aarti (a small ritual conducted as a mark of reverence)
and welcomes them. It is also customary to break a coconut to the ground as this
is believed to help ward off evil spirits.
The mangala snaanam is the auspicious and purifying bath that the bride and
groom must have in their respective homes on the dawn of their wedding day.
Before the bath they are anointed with oil and a tilak of haldi-kumkum.
Exchange of Garlands
This ceremony is full of fun and gaiety. The bride and the groom exchange
garlands thrice. They are teased by their relatives. For instance, they pull the
girl away when the boy reaches forward to be garlanded by her, and vice versa.
The bride and the groom's uncles (mother's brother) have to hoist them.
When the couple finally succeed in garlanding each other thrice, they are made
to sit together on a swing. Married women from the families give spoonful of
milk and banana pieces.
The bride's father welcomes the groom when he comes to the mandapam (place where
the wedding rituals are carried out).. The mandapam houses the sacred fire
around which the wedding ceremonies will be conducted. The bride's mother
applies kajal in the groom's eyes. The bride's father washes his son-in-law's
feet. The father and bride offer the coconut to the groom while the bride's
mother pours water over the coconut thus symbolising the 'giving away of their
daughter.' The groom's parents gift the bride a nine-yard sari and a blouse to
be worn for next moment, the auspicious occasion of tying the mangasultra
With the help of her sister-in-law and other aunts the bride changes into a
nine-yard sari and again enters the mandapam. A sack of paddy is placed on the
floor. The bride's father is seated on this and the bride sits on her father's
lap. The sack of paddy symbolises good fortune and abundance in terms of
material and spiritual wealth. The yoke of a farmer's plough is touched to the
bride's forehead. This gesture carries the hope that the couple will always walk
together, by each other's side to pull the plough of life. The priest and
relatives bless the mangalsutra or sacred thread and hand it to the groom who
ties it around the neck of his bride with two knots. His groom's sister ties the
third knot much to the rejoicing of everyone accompanied by the drums of the
melam. The three knots symbolise the marriage of the mind, spirit and body.
The groom takes the bride's right hand in his left hand and leads her around the
sacred fire seven times. The bride begins each round by touching her feet to a
grinding stone. This signifies her hope that their union may be as firm and
steadfast as the grinding stone
Post - Wedding Rituals
The families of the newly-weds exchange clothes and other gifts befitting their
status during this ceremony.
The groom accepts popped rice from the bride's brother and offers it to the
sacred fire or Agni. The blessings of Agni are sought as fire stands for the
divine power and light of God.
The bride and groom seek the blessings of the senior
members of the family by prostrating in front of them. They also offer them a
gift of fruits and a token rupee.
The wedding rituals over, the bride is escorted to the groom's house.She is
welcomed into her new home with an aarati. Lunch is served to newly-wed couple.
Punjabi wedding is an event where there is fun and excitement. The ceremonies
and rituals are lavish, and each is a sweet excuse for fun, frolic and
Sagan and Chunni Chadana
Before the wedding, the Sangeet and Mehandi are attended by
the families and relatives of the groom and bride.
The maternal uncle of the bride-to-be plays an important role in this ceremony.
The chuda (a set of red and cream ivory bangles) are touched by all present to
signify their blessings and good wishes for the bride-to-be. The bride must slip
the chuda on her wrist. This is followed by an iron bangle (for good luck) with
shells and beads, and a mauli that the pandit ties around her wrist. Flower
petals are showered on the girl after the ceremony and prasad (food that has
been offered to God or blessed during a puja) is distributed among all.
ghardoli and vatna
This ritual demands that the bride-to-be stay at home in her old clothes for a
couple of days before her wedding. She must sit in the vicinity of four lit
diyas or oil lamps so that the glow from them is reflected on her face.
The bride is dressed by her mother, female relatives and friends amid much
gaiety. She may wear a sari or a lehenga in traditional colours like red, orange
or magenta. She is adorned with traditional gold jewellery like a nose ring,
The groom dresses in formal attire, which may be traditional or western. A young
nephew or cousin also dons similar attire. He is called the sarbala (caretaker
of the groom) and accompanies him on his mare or in his car.
A puja is performed after the groom dons his wedding attire. His sehra or turban
is blessed by his relatives, as is the silver mukut or crown that goes on top of
the turban. At the end of the ceremony, those present bless the groom and give
him gifts or, more commonly, cash.
goodti and duppata varna
The groom's bhabi lines his eyes with surma (kohl). After this, the groom's
sisters and cousins feed and decorate his mare. If the groom chooses to use a
car for the occasion, then the car is decorated. His relatives use cash for the
varna, a ceremony that is supposed to ward off the evil eye. The cash is given
away to the poor.
The bride and groom exchange garlands during this ceremony. Those present
indulge in much teasing and festivity to mark this happy occasion. Often, this
ceremony acts as an effective ice-breaker for the nervous bride and her groom.
The mahurat or auspicious time for the wedding ceremony is usually set after
dinner. When the mahurat approaches, the purohit first performs a puja for the
groom. The groom chants a few mantras. This is when the girl's young relatives
grab the groom's untended shoes and hide it away to be returned after the
ceremony for a fee. The fee - kalecharis - gold for the bride's sisters and
silver for her cousins. Once the groom's puja is over, the purohit performs
another puja with the couple and their parents. The bride is given away by her
father in a ceremony called the kanyadaan. This is followed by another ceremony
- the pheras (rounds). The bride and groom go around the sacred fire with the
bride's sari tied to the groom's pagdi with the help of the red chunni used in
the ghara ghardoli ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the newly-weds touch
the feet of the groom's parents and the elders present to take their blessings.
The bride changes into the clothes presented by her in-laws, while her relatives
apply tilak on the groom's forehead.
This ceremony marks the departure of the bride from her parental house. She
throws phulian or puffed rice over her head. She conveys her good wishes for her
parents through this gesture. A beautifully decorated palanquin or car takes her
to her new home. She is usually accompanied by her brother. Her relatives throw
coins in the wake of this procession.
The puja meant for the ancestors of the bride and the groom is performed a day
before the marriage. Rangoli is done and the idol of Bhagwan Narayan is
Performed at the crack of dawn on the day of the wedding, this involves the
bathing of the bride/groom by ten married women. Then they offer food to the
bride/groom. The meal consists of macher laija bhaja (fried fish) followed by
jal dhala bhaja (rice cooked in water). Curd and chiruya complete the meal.
The piris which are used to
seat the bride and groom are decorated. Gifts are exchanged between the families
of the bride and the groom prior during the pre-wedding and post-wedding
Sent before the haldi or turmeric ceremony, this is for the bride from the
groom's house. The gifts include at least six sarees with blouses, petticoats
and cosmetics to go with them. Also among the gifts are fish, assorted sweets,
curd, paan, dhaan and durba. A relative of the groom arrives at the bride's
house with an entourage of servants bearing the gifts.
On the day of the wedding, usually in late afternoon, few married women apply
turmeric and oil on the hair and body of the bride/groom. Then they wear the new
set of clothes given by their in-laws. The worn clothes are later given away to
a napti (barber).
The bride wears the sankha poranas after taking bath and wearing a new sari.
The bride is dressed up with jewellery and mukut(crown). After her bridal
makeover, a design of the mukut is traced on her face using the chandan paste.
Two banana trees are planted at the mandap and a large alpana is made with rice
paste. The mandap is decorated for the event with flowers and lights.
The wedding ceremony begins
with the arrival of the groom and his relatives at the bride's house. They are
greeted with flowers. The baran dala is held by an elder female relative of the
bride's and the plate is first touched to the groom's forehead, then to ground,
and back again to his forehead in a gesture of part blessing, part-reverence.
The groom is offered sweets and sherbet. Water is sprinkled on the doorstep as
the groom steps into the house to mark the auspicious moment.
The bride and groom exchange
garlands while the purohit chants mantras. Her paternal or maternal uncle gives
the bride away. This particular part of the ceremony is called sampradhan.
After the wedding, the couple is welcomed inside the bride's home where they are
The next morning, the groom adorns the forehead of his bride with vermillion. He
does this by looking into a mirror. The newly-weds visit the mandap, and worship
the Sun God in the presence of the purohit.
This ceremony marks the departure of the bride and groom. From here they set off
for the groom's home. The newly weds are blessed by the elders.
This ritual is performed to welcome the bride and groom to the latter's home.
The women of the house pour water on the ground beneath their vehicle when they
alight. The groom's elder brother's wife holds a plate containing lac dye and
milk under the bride's feet. Having imprinted the soles of her feet thus, she
leads her by the arm into the house. The elders of the house bless the newly
It is during this ceremony that the bride has her first meal in the home of her
in-laws. Until now, her meals usually arrive from a neighbour's house. This
ceremony is followed by a reception in the evening, hosted by the groom's
recognizes marriage as an act of devotion to God and a solemn pact that must be
respected by the couple throughout their lives. Festivity, traditional splendour
and lavish banquets make the occasion a great treat for the invitees.
The Mehndi (Henna) ceremony is takes place a couple of days before the wedding
or on the same day at the bride's place. Any relative or a mehndiwali (henna
artist) applies mehndi on the hands and feet of the bride-to-be. After the
mehandi ceremony the girl is not allowed to step out of the house.
The Nikaah or wedding ceremony is
organized at the bride or the groom's place. A Maulvi (priest), in the presence
of close family members and friends, conducts the ceremony. In orthodox Muslim
communities, the men and women are seated separately. Father of the bride and
the groom play an important role in the ceremony. The Maulvi reads selected
verses from the Quran. The Nikaah is complete after Thijab-e-Qubul. The Mehar is
a compulsory amount of money given by the groom's family to the bride.
The Nikaahnaama is a document in
which the marriage contract is registered. It contains a set of terms and
conditions that must be respected by both the parties. It also gives the bride
the right to divorce her husband. The contract must be signed by the bridegroom,
the bride, the Walis (father of the both bride and groom ), and the Maulvi.
The guests pray
for the newly-weds
Christian wedding is usually conducted in the Church.
This ritual symbolizes the partaking of each-other's secrets by the prospective
bride and groom, as they unveil to each-other the minutest details of their
lives and swear by the Holy Bible that they have not concealed anything about
their lives. Apart from this, they are also required to corroborate that they
have been baptized.
This is the celebration of groom's last night as a bachelor. Prior to drinking,
a toast is raised as a custom. This party has an ambience of great pomp and
The groom's Best Man welcomes the bride on groom's behalf with a kiss on her
cheek and with a bouquet.
Proceedings inside are long and many. The couple walks and the cooridors and
stands in front of the priest. He welcomes them and offers his best wishes. The
priest then commences the procession of reading psalms from the Holy Bible. He
then renders a sermon called Homily, which dwells on the sacredness of the
wedlock. The Homily being over, the priest asks the bride and the groom some
customary questions pertaining to their consent for the marriage, which both of
them have to answer in acquiescent.