We belong to a country of 29 states where every state has something unique to offer when it comes to traditions and ‘roots.’ Whether you talk about lifestyles or wedding rituals or anything for that matter, every state has its own slight variations in the customs. Gujarati people in particular are very lively and colourful (their garba dance during Navratri would’ve given you a fair idea) in almost everything that they do. Even the Gujarati cuisine comes with its own touch of the state. Their weddings too are very colourful and eventful. Let’s take a look at the customs, traditions and ceremonies followed at a Gujarati wedding.
Gujarati Pre-Wedding Rituals
1. Gor Dhana
This is the first ceremony to be performed in a Gujarati family. During this ceremony, the families of the bride and groom get together and introduce each other while having gor (jaggery) and dhana (coriander seeds). Exchange of gifts such as dry fruits and sweets may also take place. In some families, to reduce the number of events, the gor dhana ceremony is clubbed with the sagai.
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2. Chandlo Matli
This ceremony marks the official agreement of the match being made. After this ceremony, the bride and groom are officially known as the ‘would be couple.’ The bride’s father along with other male members of the family visits the groom’s house to apply chandlo (a red circle on the forehead) to the groom and offers token money known as shagoon.
Sagai, better known as the ‘ring ceremony’, is when the bride and groom exchange rings in the presence of family members at the Gujarati wedding. The guest-list for the sagai varies from family to family as some prefer to keep it a private affair while others like to make it grand like the wedding with pomp and show and lots of dance.
4. Ganesh Matli
This is when the pandit is called to the residence for a puja of Ganesh ji in an attempt to seek his blessings for the upcoming wedding. In Hindu culture, it is believed to be auspicious to pray to Ganesha before starting any new phase of life.
Pithi (haldi ceremony) in Gujarati weddings has its own touch as along with haldi (turmeric) a dash of sandalwood powder is also added. The mixture also includes rose water and perfume to keep the bride and groom’s skin soft and glowing.
Well, this one’s common to other cultures too as a mehndi ceremony is performed in various cultures and isn’t just limited to Gujarati weddings. This is when the bridal henna is applied on the would-be bride’s arms and legs and while other women are also invited over for the same.
Sanji or the sangeet ceremony is when the family gets together in the joyous occasions and does garba or dance to traditional Gujarati songs. With the passage of time, the music list is no longer limited to folk songs but also includes Bollywood songs on which garba can be performed.
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8. Mandap Mahurat
Before erecting the mandap of the wedding, a special puja is done to worship Ganesha and the stars and planets wishing for good planetary movements on the day of the wedding.
This ceremony involves the groom bowing down to the bride’s mother while she catches hold of his nose. This ceremony is a part of many cultures and is often known by different names. It is sign of humility and affection that marks the beginning of the wedding.
Gujarati Wedding Rituals
1. Varghoda (Baraat)
Like many other cultures, the groom in the Gujarati wedding too sets out on a horse for his wedding venue while all his relatives perform garba in front of the horse. The ‘bandwalas’ are called who are given shagun and there’s shehnai and a small puja before the groom sets off.
This is when the bride and groom exchange garlands while their relatives try to play games by picking them up on the shoulders to make it hard for them to exchange the garlands.
Antarpaat is when a piece of cloth is held between the bride and groom while the pandit chants the mantras. The cloth is lowered slowly during the ceremony as directed by the pandit.
Kanyadaan is the ceremony where the parents of the bride give the hand of their kanya (daughter) to the groom in marriage. This ceremony symbolizes the faith that the father has in the groom when he’s giving his daughter to him for the rest of his life.
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Madhuparka is when the parents of the bride wash the feet of the groom. It is followed by a ceremony known as panchamrut where the groom is offered the nectar of five ingredients (honey, ghee, yogurt, sugar and milk) to drink.
6. Hasta Melap
Hasta melap is the tying of the groom’s scarf with the bride’s dupatta in preparation for the next ceremony. This ceremony also symbolizes the union of the bride and groom at the Gujarati wedding.
Commonly known as the saat phere, the saptapadi is the taking of seven steps (rounds) around the holy agni which marks the final ritual of the marriage. Following the saat pheras, the pandit announces the bride and groom to be man and wife.
Sindur is also known as ‘kumkum’ in some cultures. It is the red powder that the groom puts in the bride’s ‘maang’ or central parting of the hair. It is one of the things that symbolize the ‘suhaag’ or the holiness of the marriage.
Gujarati Post-Wedding Rituals
Vidaai is the ‘sending away’ of the bride after she married to the groom. The vidaai ceremony involves giving shagun to the bride and groom while they take ‘aashirwaad’ from the elders before leaving for their home.
2. Gharni Lakshmi
A woman is often known as ‘Ghar ki Lakshmi’ of the house she’s married into. The ceremony after the vidaai is the entry of the bride into her new home where her in-laws welcome her with ‘aarti’ and get her to tilt the rice bowl with her right foot.
3. Aeki Beki
The games at the Gujarati wedding! The newly-wed couple is then made to play fun games like finding the rings in a bowl of milk and rose petals or untying the knots of their threads in attempts to make them feel relaxed after the tiring wedding ceremonies.
After all the wedding ceremonies, the groom’s family throws a wedding reception party inviting all their family and friends in a not-so-traditional gathering to bless the new couple.
So there you go! These are the wedding ceremonies that are performed in a Gujarati wedding. The wedding is always full of life and colour and not to forget the garba that gives it a traditional Gujarati mark! Did we miss out anything? Do let us know.