I recently was lucky enough to have been invited to a grand Indian Gujarati styled wedding recently. A friend was getting married and I was awed by the opulence. There was delicious vegetarian food and vivacious dancing but there was a certain adherence to traditions and rituals. This gives Gujarati weddings a quaint old world charm. It’s a perfect blend of modernity meeting convention.
A Gujrati Wedding is usually a 2 to 4 days affair. The major elements of a Gujarati Wedding are:
- Chando Matli
This is the foremost Gujarati marriage function, Father of the bride along with four other male members of his family visits the groom’s home and applies Chandlo – a red circle made of vermillion at the center of the forehead. They bless the groom and offer him Shagun, a token gift.
- Gol Dhana
The words Gol Dhana or Gor Dhana literally translates into Coriander seeds and Jaggery. Basically, these two items on the day of the engagement ceremony are distributed among guests. The rings are exchanged in presence of the respective families. The couple seeks the blessings of five married women from each side of the family.
- Mehendi ceremony
This ceremony is marked by the application of henna on the hands and feet of the bride. The other women in the family as apply henna. The deeper the colour on the bride’s hands, the stronger the love between the husband and the wife.
- Sangeet ceremony
Traditional Gujarati wedding songs are sung, and guests enjoy tapping their feet on garba and dandiya.
- Ganesha Sthapana
No auspicious occasion in India can start off without seeking the blessing of the Vighan Harta. The remover of all obstacles. Paternal aunts of both bride and groom perform Ganesh Avahana and also received gifts as a part of the customs before the wedding ceremony official begins.
The Vidhi occurs generally the day before the wedding and has various prayers which have different meanings.
The 3 different ceremonies on the day are below:
- Grah Shanti
A pooja performed by a Hindu priest to seek the blessings of the nine planets and to remove all obstacles that may come up due to planetary positions.
A paste of haldi (turmeric), chandan (sandalwood) and rose water is applied to the bride & groom. Haldi helps in getting a bright complexion and an even skin tone. This ceremony used to happen separately for bride and groom at different places, but in the case of destination weddings, this function can be done at the same place for both bride and groom.
This ritual is performed a day before the wedding. My friend received a number of gifts from her maternal uncle, which included a traditional, paneetar, jewelry, (ivory bangle), and other valuables items.
The groom sits on a horse or an elephant and goes to the wedding venue. He is accompanied by a wedding band and his relatives and friends.
This ritual takes place on the day of the wedding ceremony itself. The groom touches his mother-in-law’s feet and she tries to grab his nose while he tries to avoid her clutch. This playful ritual is to remind the groom that she is giving her precious daughter to him, so he should be humble and grateful.
The bride is accompanied by her maternal uncle to the wedding mandap. There she garlands the groom, who reciprocates.
The main rituals of a Gujarati wedding ceremony are:
Madhuparka – After the Jaimala, the groom is led to the wedding mandap by his mother-in-law. His feet are then washed with milk and water. He is then offered a drink containing five sacred ingredients, milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, and sugar, known as the Panchamrut. During this, the sisters of the bride try to steal the groom’s shoes, known as ‘Juta Churai’.
Antarpaat – The bride is led to the wedding mandap by her maternal uncle and an opaque cloth is placed between the bride and the groom to prevent them from seeing each other. This is known as antarpaat.
Kanya Daan – Before offering his daughter to the groom, the father of the bride washes the feet of the groom. He then places the hands of his daughter on that of the groom, thereby entrusting her happiness to him from now on.
Hasta Milap – The priest unites the groom’s shawl and end of the bride’s saree while chanting sacred verses from the scriptures. This along with the united hands of the couple is known as Hasta Milap.
Mangal Pheras – The bride and the groom, with their garments tied, stand up and make four circles around the sacred fire, each for the four goals of human life – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The priest chants verses from the scriptures asking the couple to repeat them.
Saptapadi – The bride is made to touch seven betel nuts placed at regular intervals along a straight line with her right toe. The groom helps her during this task. The bride and the groom then recite the seven sacred vows during this ritual.
Sindoon Daan – The groom puts vermillion on the bride’s hair parting and ties the mangalsutra around her neck.
Kansar – The bride and groom feed each other with sweets at the end of the ceremony.
The bride leaves with her groom, she may sometimes also leave a colored print of her hand on a cloth.
- Ghar ni Laxmi
There’s a traditional Indian saying that goes like this: Laxmi cannot be brought home at anyone’s will, she comes at her own wish. The bride’s first step into her new home is considered auspicious. She is the Ghar ni Laxmi or the goddess Laxmi who will bring wealth and good fortune to her home. The mother-in-law welcomes the bride with arti and tika. Usually, a copper vessel is filled up to the brim with rice and kept at the door, which is knocked down by the Bride as she slowly nudges it forward with her feet.
A fun game played by the bride and groom wherein a ring is immersed in a bowl of milk, water, and rose petals. It is usually said that whosoever finds the rings in the maximum rounds have a control over the partner and other affairs of the house
- Gujarati Reception
This is the final ceremony of the wedding. Some choose for it to be a party while some keep it a formal affair.
The culture of a community is really showcased at its weddings. When we think of Gujarati weddings we usually think of the quintessential big fat Indian wedding ceremony. The vivid culture of Gujarati weddings is what makes them full of pomp, joy, opulence, and grandeur.
Image source: Punjab Kesari