The Baraat is a Hindi wedding word which literally means a grooms wedding entourage. The Baraat is a ceremonial procession consisting of the boys family and friends with the groom positioned in the centre. This entourage makes its way towards the wedding venue. The brides family eagerly awaits the baraat at the entrance to welcome. The welcoming is symbolic with both sides meeting in public for the first time which is followed by the actual wedding rituals.
The Barat traditionally is a noisy affair accompanied by a band and portable ceremonial lights. The groom is surrounded by his relatives and friends who dance to the bands rendering of popular wedding songs. Sometimes there are also dholki players adding to the noise (dholak is an Indian percussion instrument). Dancing to a Dholaks beat is rhythmic and reflects joy in Indian weddings.
The baraat terminates at the entrance of the venue and this is followed by the Milni (matching) ceremony. During the Milni, the families of the bride and groom meet through a series of Milnis between equal counterparts. So for example, the grooms Mamaji meets the brides Mamaji. Each meeting is accompanied by an exchange of garlands, vaar and sometimes a bear hug. This is followed by arti on the groom by the brides mother before he finally enters the wedding venue.
The groom is positioned in the centre of the baraat procession and is normally seated on a white horse or then in a decorated car. Flowers and rose water are showered and Vaar (money that is blessed by the groom) distributed to the band and light carriers. The baraat is also accompanied with fireworks being lit to announce its arrival. The groom wears extravagant wedding clothes. His wears a turban on his head (also called safaa) while his face is covered by a sehra (a face covering made of strings of beads and flowers). He also sometimes carries a sword and is accompanied by a brother (called a sarbala) on his horse or in his car. The brother is a kid brother.
The baraat is held in high esteem by the brides family and all baratis are treated like VIPs. If you are requested to be part of a baraat, don’t refuse the offer! The baraat is one of the most fun parts of an Indian wedding. IF you are not sure of what to expect at Indian weddings, A must watch is the new popular movie Band Baaja Baraat where you will get to feel what an Indian wedding is like.