A typical Gujarati Wedding begins with Sagaii or engagement. It is actually the first formal approval of marriage in the Gujarati community. It is a traditional ceremony when would be bride arrives at would be groom’s place for solemnizing the ceremony. The other ceremonies prior to the wedding are Pithi, Mehndi and Mandap Muharat. A Grihshanti Pooja for the peace and prosperity of home is also performed prior to wedding. A night before wedding the exciting Garba dance fills the atmosphere of the marriage venue with vibrancy and enthusiasm.
The wedding rituals of a Gujarati Wedding ceremony are very interesting because of the traditional ritualistic pattern. Like other traditional Indian marriage Jaimala, Varmala, Kanya Daan and Mangal Phera are the rituals that are solemnized in the wedding apart from exclusive Gujarati rituals like Madhuparka, Hastamilaap, Saubhagyavati Bhava and Chero Pakaryo. The post wedding ceremonies are equally interesting. An emotional ‘Vidai’ (biding good bye to bride), ‘Ghar Nu Laxmi’ i.e. welcome ceremony of the bride at groom’s home and ‘Aeki Beki’, an interesting game to find out who will rule the household are some interesting ceremonies of a Guajarati Ceremony.
Gujarati Wedding Attire
Indian wedding is characterized by elaborate rituals and traditions. A grand affair, marriage is an essential step towards oneness, taken by both the bride and the groom. The weddings in India usually are extravagant and splendid events and are distinguished as a large festival that is usually celebrated over a span of a week. Rituals and traditions make an important part of the wedding ceremony.
Pre Wedding Gujarati Rituals
Gujarati Marriage Ceremonies can basically be divided into three parts- the Pre-marriage ceremonies, the Wedding Ceremonies and the Post Wedding Ceremonies. Pre- Wedding Ceremonies form an important part of the entire marriage ceremony as most of them are performed individually at the bride’s and groom’s place giving a festive mood to both the houses.
Gujarati Wedding Rituals
The arrival of the groom and his family is called Ponkvu. It is actually the official beginning of the Gujarati wedding. The groom is welcomed by his mother-in-law by aarti. She also playfully tries to grab his nose at the entrance. This tradition is basically meant for an amusing welcome. However, the quoted reason behind this ceremony is to remind the groom that he has come rubbing his nose at the girl’s door asking for her hand from her parents.
Jaimala is the formal introduction of bride and groom on a stage. It involves the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom twice. First time, the groom is on a higher platform than the bride, while, the second time, they are at an equal level.
After the Jaimala, Madhuparka ceremony is performed. In the Madhuparka ceremony, groom's feet are washed to make feel special, cared and superior. Also, he is given honey and milk to drink as a token of love. While this ceremony is going on, the bride's sisters try to steal the groom's shoes, known as 'Juta Churai'.
Kanya Agamana is the beginning of the marriage on the serious note with the traditional customs and rituals solemnized by a Pundit. The bride is brought to the mandap by her maternal uncle. At the Mandap, there is an antarpaat (curtain) which separates her from her groom. As the Pundit begins chanting the mantras, the antarpaat is lowered and the couple exchanges garlands in front of the sacred fire.
One of the most important wedding rituals, Kanya daan is followed right after Knaya Agamana. It is a ceremony, in which the bride's father washes the groom's feet and gives his daughter's hand to him in the hope that he will take good care of her. The bride is considered to be a form of Goddess Laxmi and the bridegroom is considered to be Lord Narayana. Kanya daan is performed in front of the sacred fire, facilitating the pious union of the boy and girl.
Hasta Milap ceremony performed after Kanya Daan has a lot of significance. It involves the tying of the groom's scarf or shawl to the bride's sari. The tying of knot and the joined hands of the couple are symbolic of the meeting of two hearts and souls. The acharya or the priest chants mantras and seeks the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Parvatiji for the couple. The family and relatives witness the conduct of the ceremony and come forward to bless the bride and groom. They sprinkle rose petals and rice grains on them.
After Hasta Milap, Mangal Pheras are performed. Mangal Pheras are rounds that the couple takes around the sacred fire, as the priest chants mantras. It also involves the reciting of mantras by the groom that expresses his genuine and heartiest desire to seek his wife's loving support. In Gujarati marriage, there are four mangal pheras, which represent "Dharma", "Artha", "Kama" and "Moksha".
Saptapadi is an important step of any Hindu marriage. In a typical Gujarati Marriage, the groom helps the bride in touching the seven betel nuts with her right toe, while both of them recite the seven vows for their commitment towards each other. At each step of the Saptapadi, the groom asks for support from his bride throughout his life.
This is a way to bless the newly wedded couple. In this tradition, seven married women from the bride’s family whisper good wishes and blessings in the right ear of the bride. They bless her to remain a Saubhagyavati i.e. lucky throughout her life.
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. They are then blessed with gifts and other auspicious items.
Post Wedding Gujarati Rituals
A celebration of a typical Gujarati marriage does not end with the solemnization of marriage at the bride’s place. In fact these celebrations go ahead for next few days with the celebrations at the groom’s home after the arrival of bride at his place. The Post marriage ceremony begins with the Vidai (biding adieu) ceremony of the bride from her home and last with the reception ceremony of bride at the groom’s place.
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