Wedding Ceremonies & Rituals
There are a variety of different cultures and traditions followed for Hindu weddings ceremonies and rituals. Each being different has the own norms and specific religious functions. In this post we would first describe an overview of a Hindu Wedding ceremony and later get to specific communities such as the Gujursthi’s, the Sikh and also Bengali Wedding ceremonies
Traditional Hindu Wedding : Rituals & Traditions commonly performed
Hindu weddings are celebrated in a very lavish and extensive manner extending over a period of 4 to 5 days filled with traditional customs, norms, and moreover is a highly religious practice that is considered sacred as it is one of the 16 sacraments of the Hindu religion. It is not only considered as the union of the bride and the groom but also among the two families. The marriage ceremonies are divided into pre-nuptials rituals, the rituals during the nuptials and also post nuptials as well.
Rituals begin with the engagement, followed by the ‘Tilak Sagai’, and concluded by the Sangeet and Mehandi. For the ring ceremony the bride and the groom exchange rings with one another that is then followed by the applying of the Tilak which is done by the bride’s brother to the groom and is given gifts to mark the occasion. The Sagai follows soon after and the both families exchange gifts with one and other. This is followed by the Sangeet ceremony, where members of the family celebrate by singing and dancing to rejoice the occasion. The Mehandi follows with the applying of turmeric on the hands and feet of the bride by the other women of the family.
The Jaimala marks the commencement of the marriage rituals where the bride and groom come together exchanging garlands with one another. They then proceed to the Mandap where the Kanyadaan ritual is performed symbolising the father handing over his daughter’s hand to his (to-be) son-in-law, during this process the priest recites several mantras to perform this ritual. Soon after the bride and groom begin the Mangalpheras at the sacred fire and together take the Saptapadi which are seven vows they promise to abide. This is followed by the groom applying sindoor (vermillion) to the bride along with the tying of the Mangalsutra by the groom around his brides neck.
This is followed by Vidai or reception ceremony that takes place for the bride. The bride is required to throw a handful of rice and coins over the shoulder three times in the direction of parental home. This symbolic gesture is meant to keep her parental home full of wealth and prosperity forever. As she is received in her marital home the groom’s mother welcomes her at the door with the traditional Aarti.
At the entrance the bride is required to knock a pot full of rice with her foot, dip her feet in a red vermillion mixture at the entrance and leave footprints on the floor as she enters into her marital home which symbolises the welcoming of the Goddess Lakshmi in the form of the new bride into the house. A small reception party is organised at the house so that the bride and acquaint herself with the other members of the family and get comfortable in her new home. We have played a part in organizing occasions of several communities such as traditional Bengali, Sikh , Gujrathi and many more. We are here to kick-start organizing your big day!
Traditional Bengali Wedding Ceremony: Ritual & Customs
Bengali weddings are always exciting since the rituals and ceremonies that are involved are very elaborate. The culture has plenty of pre and post-nuptial rituals that gives everyone attending the opportunity to know one another and have a good time. The rituals are very meaningful and have interesting symbolisms behind it. Bengali marriages take place very often as Goa is a highly sort after destination for beach ceremonies.
The ceremony begins with a pre-wedding ritual known as the ‘Vrishi Puja’. This puja is dedicated to the memory of the ancestors of the bride and the groom. This is followed by the ‘Dodhi Mangal’ ceremony that involves bathing of the bride and groom by ten married women of the family after which they are fed traditional Bengali delicacies. The couple is then asked to be seated on ‘Piris’ where both the families exchange greetings and gifts. The ‘Gae Halud Tattva Birchwood’ is then performed where the in-laws of the bride present her with gifts.
Following this, the ‘Snal’ ritual begins where turmeric along with sandalwood is applied to the couple by the women of the family. Soon after, the bride and groom are asked to bathe and are presented with new clothes to wear for the occasion. The bride wears a traditional outfit called the ‘Sankha Poranas’. Sandalwood paste is applied to her face along with ornaments and her bridal crown.
Once the bride is ready, she proceeds to a ‘mandap’ that is decorated with fresh flowers, lights and two banana leaves. A traditional Rangoli made of rice powder is prepared near the Mandap as well.
The welcoming of the groom marks the beginning of the rituals. As the groom walks towards the Mandap, an elderly lady from the family performs the ‘baran dala’. The Baran dala is a ritual where a plate is touched to the forehead of the groom and then to the ground and repeated a few times followed by the serving of sherbet and sweets.
Rose water is sprinkled which symbolises purity as the groom enters the house. This is followed by the ‘Shubdhi Drishti’ ritual where the bride and groom see each other for the first time during the entire ceremony.
The ‘Mala Badal’ ceremony is next. This involves the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom. As a part of this ritual, the ‘Saat Paak ‘ceremony takes place where the brothers of the bride lift her on a wooden plank which she is seated upon and take her around the groom seven times which symbolises their union.
This is followed by the uncles (both paternal and maternal) performing the ‘Sampradhan’ ritual signifying the family giving away the bride to the groom. Our team plays fine attention to cultures and traditions in while organizing a Bengali wedding. Once you inform us on about the type of rituals you would like to have, we discuss the ceremonies you will be performing in accordance to your religious and cultural background and then accordingly arrange it at the venue of your choosing.
The ‘Basar Ghar’ ceremony takes after the ‘Sampradhan’ ritual. This is a post marriage ritual where the couple is treated to sweets and scrumptious food. This concludes the rituals for the day.
The next day, the groom applies vermilion to the bride’s forehead in a ritual called the ‘Bashi Biye’. The bridal ceremony takes place where the bride bids adios and leaves for her marital home.
Once here, she dips her feet in a mixture of lac dye and milk, to leave a footprint as she enters the home for the first time followed by eating her first meal at her new home in a ritual called the ‘Bou Bhat’ ceremony.
Traditional Gujrathi Wedding Rituals
A Gujarati ceremony has plenty of customs and traditions that are still adhered to even today. It is a grand occasion for the family and calls for a huge celebration that begins with the pre-marriage festivities.
The Sagaai (Engagement)
Called ‘Sagaai’ in Hindi, this celebration takes place at the grooms home where the bride arrives with a traditional ‘Malti’ (a goodie basket packed with sweets and gifts and presented to the groom and his family on a steel platter) which is the representation of good luck for the journey ahead. It is also a symbolic gesture of the family’s acceptance of the couples union. A brief ceremony follows where in four to five women from either side of the family bless the couple. This signifies a promise between the two families.
The ‘Garba’ is a fun filled party held just before the big day and involves a lot of dance and entertainment. It is an occasion for both the sides of the family to take the opportunity to get acquainted with each other before the actual festivities begin. The highlight of the event is the ‘Raas’ which is an entertaining dance with ‘dandiya’ sticks that are tapped together with your dance partner in accordance to the music. The garba kicks off all the other ceremonies that will follow.
The ‘Pithi’ is a traditional cleansing ceremony that is performed by the bride’s and the groom’s families individually. The family invites close friends and relatives to apply a paste usually made of turmeric to the boy or the girl. Turmeric, known in India as haldi, is a root of the ginger family native to South Asia and has great religious and spiritual significance.
This ceremony calls for all the female members from both sides of the family to decorate their hands and feet with mehendi or henna. The brides begins the ceremony with artists decorating the bride’s hands and feet first with intricate designs followed by those of the guests.
Prayers are offered to Lord Ganeshs in this ceremony which is considered auspicious. The Pundit visits the homes of the bride and groom before the big day and conducts a puja.
The horoscopes of the bride and the groom are matched in advance and a date and time is set by the Pandit to conduct the puja. All the relatives and family members of the bride and groom join together in offering these prayers. The puja is set to symbolically invoke the peace and blessing from the stars for the couple.
The Baraat marks the arrival of the groom to the venue accompanied by his friends and family. The is a traditional ride usually on a horse or carriage and in some cases even an elephant. Family member and friends are seen dancing in celebration around the groom accompanied by music and firecrackers.
The ‘Ponkvu’ describes the beginning of the Gujrati ceremony. It starts with the groom being welcomed by his mother-in-law at the entrance of the venue. She then performs the ‘arti’ and also playfully tries to reach the nose of the groom that symbolizes the groom coming to the mother’s doorstep asking for her daughter’s hand in marriage .
The Ponkvu is followed by the bride being brought for the exchange of garlands between herself and her groom. You often see friends picking the bride higher than the height of the groom which playfully symbolizes that you cannot take away this precious girl from her family.
Following the Jaimala, the mother-in-law invites the groom to the mandap for the next set of rituals. The groom is offered a light drink of honey and milk and his feet are washed. During this ritual, the sisters-in-law tries to steal the shoes of the groom which is yet another symbolic gesture that is still carried out till this date. The groom has to return with the same shoes he enters the ‘Madhurparka’ with and hence must offer the sisters-in-law some money for his shoes.
The maternal uncle of the bride leads her to the mandap to begin the next set of rituals. At the mandap, a curtain (Antarpaat) separates the bride and the groom from each other. The Archarya that is performing the ritual begins with prayers and offerings to the Gods and the Antarpaat is gradually lowered followed by the couple exchanging garlands. The sacred fire is lit here and the pundit carries out the ritual pujas.
This part of the ceremony symbolically represents the parents of the bride giving their daughters hand in marriage to the groom, by literally placing her hand in his. The parents of the bride fast just before the nuptials symbolizing their purity to this occasion. This ritual symbolizes the handing over of their precious daughter which is depicted as Goddess Laxmi over to the groom, depicted by Lord Vishnu.
The union of the bride and groom is symbolized by tying of the groom’s scarf to the bride’s saree. Rituals are performed as the acharya chants prayers to invoke the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Parvati for the bride. Grains of rice and rose petals are showered over the couple by friends and family that symbolises their blessings.
In this part of the ceremony, a necklace is symbolically tied around the neck of the bridal couple by the elders of the family that is said to protect them from evil and negativity.
Following the Varnmala, the bride and groom circle around the sacred fire four times signifying Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. As this is being done, the pundit recites various mantras after which the bride and the groom move to the next part of the ritual.
Seven vows are recited during this part of the ritual where the bride along with the grooms help touches seven betel nuts with her right toe. Mantras chanted by the groom symbolise his supporting his wife during this process.
During this part of the ceremony, seven married women from the bride’s family walk around the bride and groom whispering blessings into the bride’s right ear.
After the mother of the bride blesses the couple, the groom is traditionally required to tug his mother in law’s saree which is a symbolic gesture asking the bride’s family for gifts.
This part of the ritual is the conclusion of the entire ceremony where the couple now asks for blessings from their elders marking the end of the ceremony.So that brings to an end the lengthy rituals involved in a Gujarati ceremony. Rest assured, we are more than capable of handling all of the above for you including planning and choosing the right venues, getting the much-needed Government clearances, catering for the right type of food and entertainment for your guests and looking after their every need.
Sikh wedding rituals and Customs
Here is a look at the customs and rituals commonly performed at a Sikh wedding. Although these rituals may vary with the community, it is more to provide you with an overview of the traditional customs.
The Gurdwara or the Sikh Temple is the location for the Sikh Anand Karj (Ceremony of Bliss). The Gurdwara is located at Betim, near Panjim City and the other in Vasco-da-Gama. The ceremony begins with the arrival of the Baraat at the Gurdwara riding on a horseback accompanied with a young member of the family. The Sikh Prayer called Ardaas is performed by the family and friends of the bride and the groom as soon as the Baraat arrives. After this prayer the Milni ceremony commences which is the exchange of greetings by hugs, garlands and wishes by the brides and grooms family.
After this initial greeting guests then proceed towards the main hall of the Gurdwara where guests are served tea and breakfast. Hymns are sung by the Ragis from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs. The men and women are seated opposite on each sides facing the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. After everyone takes their seats, the bride enters the hall followed by the members of her family. The bride and groom are then seated facing the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and wait for the ceremony to begin.
The ceremony starts with the Sikh priest called the Granthi calling for the Ardaas, in this ritual the couple along with the parents stand and give their consent publicly to the children to tie the knot. Out of respect to Sri Guru Granth Sahib , the bride and the groom touch their foreheads to the ground every time they asked to stand up or sit down during the rituals.
Following the Granthi, the Palla ceremony begins. Here the scarf that traditionally is worn by the groom on his shoulder is placed in the bride’s hand by her father, this signifies the leaving of his daughter from his care to her husbands.
The Anand hymn that comprises of four stanzas is read out by the Lavaan. The hymm which is by Guru Amar Das symbolically describes the husband and wife’s love for each other and is depicted as a connection between the soul (wife) and God (that is the husband). After these mantras are recited the bride led by her groom grabs the end of the scarf and walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwise direction, the Lavaan stanza is recited here by the Ragis. Following each round the couple has to sit and listen to the next stanza recited by the Granthi. After each reading the couple circles around the around Sri Guru Granth Sahib four times to complete this ritual.
After the Lavaan has been completed, the Guru Amar Das is recited that is followed by preaching’s and singing of hymns called as the Kirtan. The ceremony formally concludes after the final Ardaas have been recited that leads to everyone present in the hall to stand. Soon after, a random page of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is opened and read for the occasion(Hukamnama). To mark the conclusion of the ceremony of sacramental pudding called as the Karah Prashad is served to everyone, following this everybody exits the Gurudwara and heads over for a community meal (Langar).
*Kindly note this is only a brief description, practices and rituals may vary