Like any other wedding in India, Gujrati weddings also have lots of traditional rituals and customs. Every customs holds a special meaning for the family. They have their unique colour and flavour in their weddings. Its full of dance, dazzling decor, vibrant colours and fun. There are many ceremonies in Gujrati wedding which starts from engagement and continues till Vidaai.
In simple words, it means acceptance of alliance. The prospective bride and groom are introduced to each other through a family member, relative , friend, matrimonial site or may be through someone else. After their horoscopes gets matched, it comes to them to make a final decision to marry. After they give their consent, bride’s father with four other men goes to groom’s house. He carries a kilo and a quarter of unrefined sugar and saffron to offer to groom and his family along with sweets and gifts he wants to give to groom’s family. The bride’s father applies vermilion Tikka and rice on groom’s forehead and gives him a Shagun. The astrologer suggests choices of auspicious dates for wedding. Both families agree to certain date on which wedding is to be held.
This is a formal ceremony where both families make it official. The girl carries a Matli which is clay container, filled with sweets and gifts for groom and his family as good luck. A short ceremony is performed and they exchange their rings. Now, the man and woman are engaged to be married.
This ceremony is performed few days before wedding at bride and groom’s house. This ceremony is to invoke lord Ganesha, request him to take away all obstacles which could come during wedding and ask for his blessings. A pandit performs the Pooja in presence of all family members.
This is a prayer session or pooja performed at both bride as well as groom house. An auspicious time or muhurat is chosen to perform this under supervision of a pundit. Our stars have tremendous influence on us.The purpose of this pooja is to bring peace and stability amongst stars. Any disturbance can cause harm and clashes in the marital relationship and lives of the couple.
This is basically gathering of female relatives and friends of bride. Its organised a day or two days before wedding. Mehandi is applied by some usually professional mehandiwali, in the hands and feet of bride. Very intricate designs and fine patterns are drawn and left for a couple of hours to dry to give a dark red colour. The ladies who come, apply mehandi as well on their hands.
This is traditional Gujrati dance performed and enjoyed by almost everyone present at event. Plenty of dance is done using hands and sticks and hitting on each other. This is normally at night before wedding day.
This ceremony is held usually a day before wedding. Family members, friends and relatives are invited to home of bride or groom or at venue where its organised. In this ceremony, people , mostly females, apply a paste made with turmeric, sandalwood and saffron called Pithi on bride at groom. Its cleans skin and gives a healthy glow on their faces.
In this ceremony, the maternal uncle of bride who is mother’s brother goes to bride’s home and gives lots of gifts, which usually includes saree, jewellery, chooda(wedding bangles) etc. to her.
The grooms arrives all dressed up on a horse or in a car followed by a traditional band with family members and friends who dance on the way to celebrate the occasion to its fullest. The priest gives the groom’s sister a small bowl wrapped in cloth and containing coins on which the Hindu Swastik has been etched. She rattles this over her brother’s head to ward off the evil eye and also warn him not to forget her after wedding.
The arrival of groom and his family is called Pokhvanu. They are greeted warmly at the doors. The bride’s mother applies Tilak on groom’s forehead and welcomes him by doing his Aarti. As a custom the groom bows his head in humility and clutches his nose, this shows that he respects the immense sacrifice the bride is about to make. The bride’s mother gives him her blessings and performs a small ritual to ward off the evil eye. Then bride’s mother also playfully tries to clutch his nose. Its more of fun but the reason behind is to tell that soon he will take her daughter away from her forever.
After welcoming the groom, he is then escorted to the Mandap and wedding ceremonies start with Ganesh Pooja. The pooja is conducted under supervision of a pundit.
The bride’s father washes groom’s feet and offer him Panchamrit which is made with milk,honey, yogurt, sugar and ghee. Now, this is the time when sisters and cousins of bride steal shoes and groom have to offer some money to take it back.
Now its time for bride to come to Mandap. She comes with her maternal uncle. On the mandap, there is an Antarpaat(curtain) which separates bride and groom from seeing each other.
Now the priest begins the ceremony by saying mangalashtak. Then the antarpaat is lowered and couple exchange garlands in front of sacred fire.
The Kanya Daan, is considered by Hindu scriptures to be the biggest daan for any human. Parents give away their daughter by keeping her hand onto the grooms hand in this ceremony. In keeping with the Holy Scriptures, the bride’s parents keep their hands folded during this ceremony. This shows their hope that their new son-in-law will take very good care of their daughter and never hurt her. Its believed that groom is Lord Vishnu and they are handing over their daughter, the Goddess Laxmi, as his rightful mate.
A cord is tied around the neck of bride and groom and its looped around 24 time by the elders in family. This means the couple is safe from any negative energy or evil.
This ritual involves tying of groom’s scarf or shawl to bride’s saree or dupatta. The tying of knot and joined hands of the bride and groom symbolizes the meeting of their hearts and souls. The pundit chants mantras and seeks blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Parvatiji for the couple. Family, relatives and friends witness the conduct of the ceremony and give their blessings. They sprinkle rose petals and rice grains on them.
This ritual is performed after Hasta Milaap. Couple go rounds 4 times around the sacred fire as priest chants mantras in Mangal Pheras. The four pheras represent “Dharma”, “Artha”, “Kama” and “Moksha”. It signifies the promise to be with each other, good health and prosperity, blessings, love and loyalty.
During this ceremony the groom helps bride to touch 7 betel nuts with her right toe by chanting seven mantra in which he request for support from his wife in ups and downs of their life. They take seven steps around fire . The groom and bride hold hands and walk around the sacred fire. The groom leads the first three and bride leads the remaining four. He makes requests of his bride and she promises to fulfill them. The groom says “With God as our guide, let us take”. After that, bride sits to the right of husband. Every step has a different vow, which are:
The groom puts red powder on bride’s hair and ties mangalsutra around her neck which symbolizes that she is married now. Now they officially become husband and wife of each other.
In this tradition, seven women will pass by the couple and whisper blessings into the bride’s right ear, which is your husband may live long and be with you forever.
The Chero Pakaryo is an exclusive Gujarati custom. It is a kind of amusement after the serious traditional ritual. In this custom, the groom is made to tug the sari of his mother in law as she passes from the Mandap in way that it looks he is asking the bride’s family for gifts.
After all the wedding rituals are over, the couple seeks the blessing of every senior member of the family present at the marriage.
This ceremony is about departure of couple which include tears of joy and sadness as the bride is departing for her new home leaving her old memories back. The bride is often carried out by her brothers.
The bride’s first step into her new home is considered very auspicious. She is the ‘Ghar ni Laxmi’ or the goddess Laxmi who will bring wealth and good fortune to her home. The mother-in-law welcomes the bride with arti and tika. Then 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 full understanding of her duties and responsibilities towards her new home.
Another fun filled ritual is called Aeki-Beki, which is a wedding game played by the couple. A vessel is filled with water and colored by putting sindoor and milk. After this, several coins and a ring are put in it. Both the bride and the groom are then asked to find it. Whoever, succeeds four out of seven times is believed to rule the household.
This is usually held the next day. But nowadays it's even clubbed with wedding.