“Tilak” ceremony is the first agreement between the two families in which the bride’s brother goes to the groom’s house with gifts and sweets for the groom and his family members and applies ‘tilak/bindi on the forehead of the groom, signifying that the boy and the girl will enter into holy matrimony.
“Pili-Chitthi” is a ritual in which the groom’s family sends a “patra” or letter having the symbol of Lord Ganesha and dabbed with turmeric and vermilion powder to the bride’s, to comfirm the acceptance of the alliance between the two families.
A week, prior to the wedding, “Mandap Aarohan” takes place wherein all the sons-in-law and brothers-in-law from the bride’s family help to erect the wedding “mandap”(canopy, where the actual wedding rites are performed) supported by wooden posts and lavishly decorated with flowers and silver or gold paper. The pillars have bands in alternate red and white paints.
About a week prior to the wedding “haldi /turmeric ceremony, to beautify the bride and to prepare her for the wedding, is conducted each day till the wedding day. In this ritual, married ladies from the bride’s side smear a paste of “haldi”/turmeric and oil on the bride’s arms, feet and face.
The joyous occasion, “mehendi” ceremony is held on the morning prior to the wedding day. Professional “mehendiwalli”, the henna artist applies a paste of henna and “alta” (a red liquid to highlight the auspicious occasion) on the palms and feet of the bride to create intricate beautiful traditional patterns. This occasion is marked by dancing and singing by ladies who also get mehendi patterns on their palms.
As in any other Indian wedding, the Madhya Pradesh Rajput bride’s maternal uncle plays a significant role in the ritual “maira”. He is very liberal in giving costly gifts to the bride and even hosts a sumptuous vegetarian lunch to honor the bride.
“Padla” is a ritual held in the wedding day afternoon, in which all the articles gifted by the bride’s family are exhibited in the bride’s house.
In “Baraat”, the ceremonial wedding procession, the groom leaves for the wedding venue mounted on a beautifully decorated mare, along with a male child. He is attired in a gold ‘achkan’, a long coat along with tight trousers known as ‘churidar’/’jodhpurs, an orange turban decorated with a ‘sirpech’ and ‘jootis’/shoes that are highlighted with a necklace and a cummerbund at the waist. He is accompanied only by the male members from the family and also a band playing popular hits. When the ‘baraat’ reaches the wedding venue the groom is given a traditional welcome by his future mother-in-law with the “aarti” and is escorted to the wedding altar.
The bride looks ravishing in a resplendent traditional ‘poshak’, comprising a long pleated skirt known as ‘ghagra’, a tight matching blouse and a dupatta, usually red in color; but deep colors like orange, bright yellow, gold or pink are also popular. She wears certain jewelry items that have their own significance, on this occasion. ‘Rakhri’ is a circular piece worn on the forehead at the parting of the hair. She also wears sparkling danglers on her ears, ‘timaniyaan’, a choker inlaid with uncut diamonds and a set of ivory and gold bangles known as ‘chudda’. Her other adornments include stone-studded gold armlets called ‘bajuband’, gold anklets and gold toe-rings called ‘bichiya’ and ‘nath’, a stone-studded nose ring.
A Brahmin “pujari” who officiates at the wedding ceremony lights the sacred fire and in the midst of Vedic chantings the groom’s shawl and the bride’s veil or “duppata” are tied together and the couple makes seven circles or “pheras” around the fire after which the groom slips green glass bangles on to the bride’s wrist.
On the morning after the wedding day, the groom, his parents and other members from his family arrive at the bride’s house to join an elaborate breakfast, consisting of various sweets and dry fruits, in addition to other delicacies. This ritual is termed as “Kunwar Kaleo”.
“Bidai” or Bridal send off is a tearful ritual as the bride bids farewell to her parents, brothers, sisters and other members of her family. The groom’s family blesses her with the showering of flowers and coins, an assurance to her family that even though “Laxmi”, the Goddess of wealth is leaving her parental house, prosperity will remain there. She along with husband arrives at her new house in a beautifully decorated car. She enters her new house with her right foot first.
“Mooh Dekai” literally means ‘show your face’, but this ritual is performed to introduce the new bride to her husband’s family members. She is seated alone and the members of the groom’s family come one after another to be introduced to the bride and they shower her with beautiful gifts.
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