Image Courtesy : Kenny Kim
Gujarati wedding rituals are very symbolic and lay down instructions for the couple to follow to be able to lead a happy married life. The responsibilities of the couple are clearly demarcated; the wife is supposed to take care of the home and perform all the household duties while the husband is supposed to earn and support the family.
Pre Wedding Rituals
Sagaai: Sagaai is the engagement ceremony which takes place at the groom’s home. The girl carries something known as matli to the groom’s home for the engagement. This is a steel container which has sweets and gifts for the groom’s family. The matli signifies good luck and also symbolizes acceptance from the bride’s family. The ceremony is short and five women from each side bless the couple.
Garba: This is a fun night which involves dancing in folk style to traditional songs. Couples dance in pairs to the music and the dance is performed using wooden sticks. This event brings both the families together so that they get to know each other better.
Pithi: This is a ritual where turmeric paste is applied to the bride and the groom to bring a glow to their skin. This ritual happens separately at the couples respective homes. Family and close friends are a part of this ceremony.
Mehendi: This is a ceremony where the bride and female members of the family get intricate heena designs applied on their palms. The bride’s mehendi is the most beautiful with motifs related to the wedding such as shenai, dulha, doli and also the name of the groom inscribed in the design.
Mandap Mahurat: This is a small ceremony where a puja is performed in presence of a priest. Lord Ganesh is worshipped during this puja. In Hindu customs it is common practice to conduct a puja and get blessings from Lord Ganesh as he is considered to be the supreme head of all gods and is considered to ward off any evil.
Griha Shanti: This is a pujs conducted by a priest. The time and date for the puja are fixed based on th horoscope of the couple. The horoscopes of the bride and groom are matched and the most auspicious time is selected. The puja is suppose to bring happiness and peace to the couple.
Baraat: Traditionally Gujarati’s did not marry someone from their own town and hence the baraat signified the groom entering the village. Now it is more of a wedding procession where the groom arrives on a horse back or in a carriage and is accompanied by family members and close friends.
Ponkvu: This is the official start of the wedding. The mother-in-law welcomes the groom and performs an aarti. She then gently grabs his nose. This signifies that the groom rubbed his nose on their door step asking for their daughters’ hand.
Jaimala: This is the exchange of garlands. The groom is lifted higher than the bride during this ceremony. This signifies that the bride cannot take the groom from his family and friends.
Madhuparka: The mother-in-law welcomes the groom to the mandap by washing his feet with honey and milk. The bride’s sisters secretly hide the groom’s shoes during this ceremony and then ask for money to return the shoes.
Kanya Agamana: The bride is led to the mandap for the remaining rituals by her maternal uncle. A piece of cloth separates the bride and the groom. The priest chants some mantras and the wedding is carried out in front of the sacred fire.
Hasta Milap: For this ceremony, the groom’s scarf is ties to the bride’s saree. This symbolizes the union of their souls. The pundit prays to Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Parvati and the relatives bless the couple by showering grains of rice and rose petals.
Varmala: A cord is tied around the couple’s neck by the elders of the family. This is believed to protect the couple from evil.
Mangal Pheras: During this ceremony the bride and groom are suppose to circle the sacred fire four times. Each circle signifies a human goal. The four goals are – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Saptapadi: The bride is supposed to touch seven beetle nuts with her right toe. At every step the groom chants mantras in which he requests support from his wife at all times.
Shubhagyavati Bhava: According to this tradition, seven married women from the bride’s side whisper blessings in her right ear.
Chero Pakaryo: This is an old custom where the groom tugs the bride’s mothers saree as a way of asking the bride’s family for gifts.
Ashirwaad: The wedding ceremony ends with this where the couple takes blessings from all the elders present.
Post Wedding Rituals
Vidaai: The bride is usually carried by her brothers. This is the ceremony where the bride bids farewell to her family and is welcomed by her new family.
Ghar Nu Lakshmi: The bride is considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the family. The bride has to spill a pot of rice by using her right foot to knock the vessel which is placed at the entrance of the house. This is a symbol of wealth and signifies that the bride accepts all her responsibilities towards her new home.