Quite like weddings in many other Indian cultures, Parsi weddings known as ‘lagan’ also span over a period of a few days. An interesting and diverse mix of pre wedding, wedding and post wedding rituals, Parsi weddings often begin with the engagement and end with a lovely reception. Let’s take a look at some of the typical Parsi wedding traditions…
Pre Wedding Customs –
Rupiya Peravnu – The Rupiya Peravnu is the unofficial engagement between the couple. It is meant to be an approval of the relationship. Women from the groom’s side of the family go to the bride’s home and gift her silver coins and some other gifts. The bride then adds some more silver coins and heads over to the groom’s house and they repeat the ceremony.
Madhavsaro – The Madahvsaro is held four days before the actual wedding. During this ceremony the families of the couple plant a tree in a pot at the entrance of their homes. It is conducted with the family priest reciting prayers. Normally a mango plant is used since it is considered a symbol of fertility. This plant is watered and taken care of for eight days after the lagan and then moved elsewhere.
Adarni – Held on the third day before the lagan, the Adarni is a day for exchanging gifts. The groom’s family heads over to the home of the bride and gifts her items like jewellery and clothes. Family, friends and neighbours are then invited for a traditional meal consisting of boiled eggs, sev, bananas and dahi.
Supra nu Murat – Similar to the mehendi and haldi ceremony in Hindu weddings, the Supra nu Murat is pretty much woman centric and held a day before the wedding. Four married women are given a ‘supra’ each, which contain a piece of coconut, dates, supari and haldi. The supras are exchanged length, breadth and cross wise for a total of seven times, while a fifth lady sits in the middle. The women then make a turmeric paste which is applied to the bride and groom along with their blessings.
Wedding Day Rituals –
It is considered auspicious to have the wedding either really early in the morning or after sunset so typically most weddings are held after 6.30pm. It is either held at the Fire Temple (agiary) or at a baug. Before any of the wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom have to have the Nahan i.e. a holy bath.
Nahan – This purification ritual is held on the day of the wedding itself. Before the ceremony, the bride and groom are symbolically bathed and purified by the family dastur. It is held for the purification of the soul and body of the couple. The bride then dresses in her traditional white wedding saree known as the ‘madhavate’ and the groom in the traditional dagli (similar to a kurta) and feta (cap). Also all staircases, gates, doorways and the wedding venue are decorated with colourful rangoli designs.
Achumichu – The wedding begins with a ritual known as achumichu after the couple starting with the groom step up on the stage. The bride’s mother begins the ceremony with the groom wherein she takes a tray containing rice, water, dates, raw eggs and supari. She circles all items except the water around the groom’s head seven times, starting with the coconut which she breaks on the floor to the groom’s right. The water is thrown on either side. The groom’s mother then steps on stage and repeats the ritual for the bride.
Ara Antar – The couple sits facing each other with a cloth between them so they cannot see each other’s faces. They are both given rice and the priest circles the couple with thread seven times. The couple throws the rice at each other during the end of the seventh round and it is said that whoever throws it first will dominate the relationship!
Chero Bandvanu – The couple is bound by the seven strings and sits beside each other and diyos (lamps) are placed on both sides with the witnesses sitting next to the couple. The priest then conducts the marriage prayers and there is a showering of rice and rose petals. This ceremony ends with the exchange of rings. The priest declares the couple husband and wife and the newlyweds have to pay their respects to the fire from the agiary.
Haath Borvanu – After the official ceremonies there are some fun, informal customs as well like the haath borvanu where the bride’s sister demands money from the groom and his hand is dunked in water till he complies. Some other the other fun activities even include milk being poured on the groom’s shoes and the strings binding the couple being removed in exchange for cash!
Post Wedding – There is generally a wedding reception with the traditional and very delicious Parsi cuisine being served, lots of fun and gaiety. The night ends with the couple being accompanied home by the bride’s parents and the groom’s mother does the achumichu ceremony again for the newlyweds again.