Why Indian Weddings Have Such Different Rituals?
India is known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse customs. Along each state the customs change and so does the wedding rituals. Let’s take you through few Hindu marriage ceremonies to see what makes them so different.
Kashmiris : Posh Puza
A Kashmiri wedding is a sheer pleasure for the guests.
The posh puza is the ceremony that formally ends the wedding ceremony. A red cloth is placed on the newlyweds’ heads, following which everyone present showers them with posh (flowers) accompanied by vedic mantras. The couple consider to be embodiment of lord Shiva and goddess Paravati, are duly worshiped.
Amazing fact is that all the guest including the newlyweds are made to eat ( a vegetarian affair )from the same plate for dinner.
Punjab : Chuda Chadana and Ghara Ghardoli
Flamboyant, full of gaiety, and larger than a life these words perfectly describes a Punjabi wedding.
In the morning of the wedding, the maternal uncle of the bride presents her with a set of red and cream ivory bangles (chuda) which she is not supposed to see till she gets ready for her wedding. The female members tie the kaliras on the chuda to convey their good wishes. A sacred thread called mouli is also tied to both the bride and the groom which is believed to bring luck and blesssings to the soon-to-be-wed couple.
Ghara Ghardoli is a ceremony at both the bride and the groom’s place, the sister-in-laws along with other female members fill a pitcher (ghardoli) of water from a nearby pond or temple and rinses off the haldi(vatna). Post this the bride and the groom head off to get ready for the actual wedding.
West Bengal : Saat Paak and Subho Drishti
Bengali wedding entails a series of elaborate and colorful rituals.
The blowing of the conch shell and ululation by the women gathered at the wedding venue are most characteristic of a Bengali marriage. Shehnai recital played by live musicians or else played over a music system adds to this symphony.
Saat Paak : This is a beautiful site to be witnessed only at a bengoli wedding where the bride sits on a wooden stool called a pidi, and is carried to the mandap by her brothers or uncles. The bride is not supposed to see her groom when she enters the mandap, so she has to keep her eyes covered with sacred beetle leaves. Keeping her lifted up on the stool, her brothers’ then walk around the groom seven times. After the seven rounds, when the bride and the groom look at each other in presence of all the guests, this is called Subho Dristi.
Maharashtra : Antarpat and Vivaah Homa
Maharashtrian wedding is perhaps the simplest and the least sumptuous in the whole country. Simple affair, light moments.
The Antarpat is a silk shawl placed between the couples as they sit in the mandap and recite prayers. The bride and groom are not supposed to see each other until specific mantras are said.
Next is the Vivaah Homa, the brides brother (or close male relative), and the groom light the wedding agni, or fire, together. This ritual symbolizes the support that a bride has from her brother as she enters into a married life.
Tamil Nadu: Kashi Yatra and Oonjal
Weddings in the region of Tamil Nadu are diversified. There is no one style of wedding observed. But, there are some styles or rituals that are followed by all classes together.
The best part of weddings in this region is that all wedding ceremonies are conducted in the wee hours of the morning. By the time its afternoon, the bride and groom are married, and have a few hours in hand before the reception is conducted.
The wedding day starts with the Mangala Snanam or the sacred ritual bath for bride & groom. Then there is the Kashi Yatra which is a bit fun. The groom then suddenly gets up and announces that he is not going to marry and going to lead a life of a sage in Kashi. As he heads for that, the bride’s father stops him and convinces him to give up on that and instead marry his daughter.
The oonjal is where the couple is then made to sit on a decorated swing. The chains of the swing signify the eternal karmic link with the Almighty. The to and fro motion represents the undulating sea-waves of life. Yet in mind and body they shall move in harmony – steady and stable.
The tying of the Mangal Sutra or Thali takes place at exactly the pre-determined auspicious hour, known as MUHURTHAM. The bride is seated on the lap of her father, looking eastward while the bridegroom faces westward.
Rajasthan: Paharavani and Vamang Sthpana
Rajasthan being associated with magnificent lifestyle, rich cultural heritage & Royalty, no wonder the weddings of Rajasthan are a grand affair!
The groom is taken for ‘paharavani‘ wherein he is made to sit on a new cloth or asana and is welcomed by a Tika. He is also given gifts in the form of money, clothes and other things for his personal use. A silver utensil or kachola is given to the groom’s father.
The woman folk of the bride’s side then take the groom for the fun-filled ‘shloka kahalai‘ session wherein he is made to recite poems or dohas. After this, the bride worships the threshold (dahaleez) of her paternal home and breaks an earthen diya on it.
Later, in a ceremony called ‘vamang-sthpana‘ the groom requests the bride to sit on his left side, because the heart is in the left side of the body. This signifies that the groom is accepting the bride and is establishing her in his heart.
Gujarat : Pokavu, Panchamrut and Hasta Melap
Gujaratis have a rich and colorful culture. Furthermore, they are warm and cheerful, who are fond of celebrating festivals with passion.
The Gujarati community has been known for their faith and belief in religion. Gujarati wedding ceremonies are grandiose and last over a few days. Gujarati wedding rituals are rich and deeply rooted in customs and traditions.
The actual wedding day begins with Pokavu, the arrival of the groom. The mother-in-law at the entrance to the marriage hall greets him and tries to pinch his nose. This playfully reminds the groom that he has come to their door to ask for their daughter by rubbing his nose on the door.
In Gujarati wedding custom the groom sits in the mandap and his feets are washed by bride’s parents.
Next the groom drinks “panchamrut” nector of five ingredients i.e sugar, milk, yogurt, honey and ghee.
Next is the hasta melap a sacred thread which is tied around the bride and groom.
A Vedic sage emphasized that the basis of happy and fulfilling married life is the sense of unity, intimacy and love between husband and wife both physically, mentally and spiritually. Hence wife is considered to be the Ardhangani. Be this any form of ceremony and cultural rituals in Indian wedding, the path is same, to welcome the new ones to a new family with love and bless the new-wed to flourish and be one.