WHEN TRA­DI­TION MARRIES OPULENCE

Marwar - - Contents - Text Be­naifer J Mirza

The ex­trav­a­gance, élan and elab­o­rate de­tail­ing of a Mar­wari wed­ding is like none other. We bring you the tra­di­tional rit­u­als and cus­toms that are at the heart of a Mar­wari wed­ding, which sur­rounded by un­bri­dled fun and fes­tiv­ity make for a grand spec­ta­cle in­deed.

The ex­trav­a­gance, élan, and elab­o­rate de­tail­ing of a Mar­wari wed­ding is like none other. It’s like trans­port­ing your­self to a fairy-tale land, or read­ing from the pages of royal his­tory. Tra­di­tional rit­u­als and cus­toms are at the heart of a Mar­wari wed­ding, which sur­rounded by un­bri­dled fun and fes­tiv­ity make for a grand spec­ta­cle in­deed.

Band, Baaja, Baaraat… just th­ese three words can sum up the mood and gai­ety around a wed­ding. And, of course, a Mar­wari wed­ding isn’t sim­ply a wed­ding; it’s a mega event, to say the least. Months of plan­ning, weeks of prepa­ra­tions, days of cer­e­monies—all come to­gether for that one spe­cial mo­ment when the cou­ple com­mits to eter­nal to­geth­er­ness.

Though the Mar­wari com­mu­nity takes pride in re­main­ing rooted in tra­di­tions, there is of­ten a mod­ern twist to some wed­ding rit­u­als. How­ever, the crux largely re­mains un­shaken. While some cus­toms and rit­u­als may or may not be a part of some Mar­wari fam­i­lies, here is how the Mar­wari wed­ding af­fair more or less flows: Pre-wed­ding rit­u­als The cel­e­bra­tions be­gin with the Sagaai or Mudha-Tikka. This is held at the groom’s home, where the bride’s brother ap­plies a kumkum-and-rice tikka on the groom’s fore­head. This is a sign that the match has been ac­cepted and sealed. Women are usu­ally not present for this cer­e­mony. Two days be­fore the wed­ding, the bride’s and groom’s fam­i­lies ini­ti­ate the wed­ding rit­u­als by plac­ing an idol of Lord Gane­sha on a sa­cred pedestal, at the Gan­pati Stha­pana rit­ual. For the Griha Shanti, priests per­form a puja or ha­van to ap­pease the stars and plan­e­tary gods, so that they re­main har­mo­nious and be­stow their bless­ings on the be­trothed and their fam­i­lies dur­ing the cer­e­monies. Here, of­fer­ings are made to the fire, which is the core ele­ment of all the prayers. Both th­ese rit­u­als are per­formed at the bride and the groom’s re­spec­tive homes. More com­monly known as Haldi, at the Pithi Das­toor cer­e­mony, fam­ily mem­bers and close friends ap­ply turmeric-san­dal­wood paste on the bride and groom at their re­spec­tive homes. The bride adorns a tra­di­tional yel­low or or­ange dress for this. The paste is gen­er­ally ap­plied on the face, hands and feet, and is known to bring about a beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral glow to the face. Tra­di­tional wed­ding songs, beat­ing of the dhol and good cheer char­ac­terise this cer­e­mony. The same rit­u­als are en­joyed at the groom’s home, too. Af­ter the Pithi Das­toor, nei­ther the bride nor the groom is al­lowed to step out of the house, un­til the day of the wed­ding.

As the very word sug­gests, Me­hfils, also known as Sangeet, are joy­ous evening fes­tiv­i­ties held dur­ing the days be­fore the wed­ding. Here, men and women get to­gether with their re­spec­tive groups and per­form song and dance routines. The bride, the star of the evening, is brought in cer­e­mo­ni­ously and made to sit on a spe­cial seat to en­joy the show. The Mahira Das­toor sees the ma­ter­nal un­cle of both the bride and the groom visit their homes to present gifts and cash to all the fam­ily mem­bers and rel­a­tives. In re­turn, the un­cle is treated with de­lec­ta­ble home-cooked food pre­pared spe­cially for him by his sis­ter (the re­spec­tive moth­ers of the bride and groom). Next comes the Palla Das­toor, where rel­a­tives of the groom gift the bride clothes, jew­ellery, cos­met­ics and ac­ces­sories—in short, ev­ery­thing re­quired for the main wed­ding day. At the Janev that fol­lows (on the eve of the wed­ding), the groom per­forms a puja or ha­van, dressed in saf­fron clothes. Af­ter the ha­van, he wears a sa­cred thread called janev. Through this cer­e­mony, he is made to un­der­stand and ac­cept the many re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of mat­ri­mo­nial life.

Wed­ding day rit­u­als

It’s time for the groom to get groomed! At the Nikasi, the groom’s brother-in­law (sis­ter’s hus­band) ties a pagdi or headgear, fol­lowed by a sehra made of flow­ers or zari dan­glers, or at times even with strings of pearls, on his head. The groom’s bhabhi (brother’s wife) then ap­plies ka­jal from her eyes to his eyes and ties golden threads on the ghodi or wed­ding mare. And then it’s fi­nally time for the groom and his fam­ily to take the baaraat pro­ces­sion to the bride’s home or the wed­ding venue (as the case may be). The Ra­jput Baaraat is lit­er­ally a vi­sion of re­gal­ity straight out of the pages of royal his­tory. The groom, along with his fam­ily and friends, heads to the wed­ding venue. Rid­ing on a mare, he car­ries a sword in his hand, which sig­ni­fies the ma­jes­tic and mil­i­tary lin­eage of the re­gion. There’s beauty and dé­cor from the very en­trance it­self at the bride’s house/ the venue, with a beau­ti­ful toran adorn­ing the en­trance. The groom is sup­posed to hit it with a neem stick while en­ter­ing the house. This is meant to keep neg­a­tive en­ergy at bay. Next the bride’s side greets and re­ceives the groom at the en­trance in the Baaraat Dhukav cer­e­mony, which is fol­lowed by the bride’s mother per­form­ing an arti. She of­fers him sweets and wa­ter and wel­comes him in­side the venue. Clock­wise from top, left: A Gan­pati Stha­pana rit­ual in progress, with which both the bride and the groom's fam­i­lies ini­ti­ate the wed­ding rit­u­als by plac­ing an idol of Lord Gane­sha on a sa­cred pedestal; Me­hendi (a paste made with dry, pow­dered henna leaves) be­ing ap­plied to a bride's palms be­fore the wed­ding; Fam­ily and rel­a­tives ap­ply­ing san­dal­wood and turmeric paste on a bride at the Haldi cer­e­mony

The bride is then brought into the wed­ding man­dap cer­e­mo­ni­ously. She puts seven suhalis— spe­cial snacks—on the groom’s head. And then comes the spe­cial mo­ment, when the bride and the groom ex­change gar­lands at the Var­mala cer­e­mony. The Gran­thi Band­han cer­e­mony fol­lows where the bride and the groom’s odh­nis are tied up in a knot, sig­ni­fy­ing the com­ing to­gether of two souls for­ever.

The bride’s fa­ther then gives her away to the groom dur­ing the Kanyadaan cer­e­mony. The bride’s fa­ther asks the groom whether he would like to take re­spon­si­bil­ity of his daugh­ter, and then the same rit­ual gets re­peated with the bride ac­cept­ing the groom’s fam­ily and his sur­name. The cou­ple prom­ises to be to­gether through the highs and lows of life. Fol­low­ing the prom­ises, the bride’s fa­ther places her hand on top of the groom’s, at the Pan­i­gra­han cer­e­mony. The groom will­ingly ac­cepts the bride’s hands from her fa­ther and then a sa­cred thread is tied over their joined hands.

The cou­ple then takes seven Pheras around the sa­cred fire. The bride pre­cedes the groom dur­ing the first three pheras, and then the groom takes the lead and she fol­lows him in the last four. While tak­ing the seven pheras, they re­cite the seven sa­cred vows of mar­riage that sig­nify eter­nal union.

The bride places her foot on a grind­ing stone and pushes it for­ward with her feet seven times, at the Ash­wahro­han rit­ual. This stands for the chal­lenges that she may face dur­ing her mar­ried

life, all of which she shall fight with grit, de­ter­mi­na­tion and stead­fast­ness. The bride’s brother then gives her a hand­ful of puffed rice, which is of­fered into the sa­cred fire by the bride and groom at the Va­mang Stha­pan cer­e­mony. She then sits to the groom’s left, in­di­cat­ing that she has been ac­cepted into her hus­band’s fam­ily.

Af­ter ex­it­ing the man­dap, the newly-weds are ush­ered into a room in which a thapa (holy sym­bols of Kuldevi and Swastik) had been drawn in the morn­ing. An el­der fe­male mem­ber from the bride’s fam­ily then makes them per­form a puja of the thapa.

The Mooh Dikhai fol­lows where an el­der fe­male mem­ber of the groom’s fam­ily lifts the bride’s veil and sees her face and then the other fam­ily mem­bers come and be­stow bless­ings and small to­kens upon her. Then comes the Sir-guthi or Sin­door Daan, where a plat­ter

filled with rice, moong dal, jag­gery, cash and sweets are given to the bride. The groom’s sis­ter gen­tly opens up the bride’s hair part­ing and the groom ap­plies sin­door or ver­mil­lon there. The groom’s mother then brings a nath or nose ring and places it on the bride’s lap and she then wears it. The Sap­ta­padi marks the be­gin­ning of their jour­ney to­gether as a cou­ple. The bride’s fa­ther-in-law then drops a bag of money on her lap at the Aan­jhala Bharaai cer­e­mony, which is in­dica­tive of the groom’s fam­ily wel­com­ing her into their home and heart. As a daugh­ter-in­law, she must con­trol the fi­nances of her mar­i­tal home in a wise and ef­fi­cient way. Once the main wed­ding rit­u­als are com­pleted, a tikka is ap­plied on the groom’s fore­head and presents, in­clud­ing money, clothes and jew­ellery are gifted to him at the Pa­har­a­vani cer­e­mony. The bride then per­forms a puja at the

thresh­old of her parental home and then breaks an earthen diya on it. Fol­low­ing this, the newly-weds are es­corted out cer­e­mo­ni­ously for the Bidaii where a tear­ful bride bids farewell to her par­ents’ home. This is an ex­tremely emo­tional mo­ment for the bride and her par­ents and fam­ily. A co­conut is placed un­der the wheel of the car (to be crushed once the car starts) which will take them to the groom’s home. This is be­lieved to bring good luck for the trip and mar­i­tal life, in gen­eral.

Post-wed­ding rit­u­als

Griha Pravesh: Once the cou­ple ar­rives at the groom’s home, his mother per­forms an arti be­fore wel­com­ing the bride to her new home. The bride steps in, plac­ing her right foot over the thresh­old into a tray filled with a milk-and-ver­mil­lon mix­ture. With her feet coloured in red, she takes five steps in­side and kicks over a pot con­tain­ing rice and a coin, which sym­bol­ise fer­til­ity and wealth, re­spec­tively. At the Page­lagni rit­ual that fol­lows, the bride is for­mally in­tro­duced to the groom’s fam­ily mem­bers and is show­ered with bless­ings and gifts. A puja is per­formed to hon­our her. The bride’s mother-in-law then presents her with chooda, a set of red and white-coloured ban­gles made of lac and ivory. This is a ges­ture of ac­cep­tance into her new home.

Clock­wise from top, left: A bride put­ting a gar­land around the groom at the Var­mala cer­e­mony; The Gran­thi Band­han cer­e­mony, where the bride and the groom’s odh­nis are tied up in a knot, sig­ni­fy­ing the com­ing to­gether of two souls for­ever; A bride and...

Top: A groom rid­ing a mare to reach the bride's house on the day of the wed­ding Bot­tom: The bride's mother wel­com­ing the groom at the en­trance in the Baaraat Dhukav cer­e­mony

Clock­wise from top, left: The Mooh Dikhai rit­ual, where an el­der fe­male mem­ber of the groom's fam­ily lift's the bride's veil and sees her face; A groom ap­ply­ing sin­door or ver­mil­lion on the bride at the Sin­door Daan cer­e­mony Bot­tom: A tear­ful bride...

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