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One thing I notice about India when I came to visit it that people might forget about themselves and other important works but they never forget about their traditions and rituals that they apply in their daily life. Like when I stayed in my friend’s home I saw that every morning when he walks out from his home for work, his mother or wife applies vermillion Tilak on his forehead. Tikka it can also be called.
They every day pray to God and do Puja, and distribute Prasad, sweetmeat to friends and family. Sometimes it is so time taking that he gets late for his office. It doesn’t matter whether he gets late but rituals must be followed.
I planned to visit India during wedding season where I witnessed some pre-wedding traditions of different communities, took the help of my friend who took me there because I didn’t know Hindi and their local languages. But now little bit I have started to understand.
I want to say seeing pre-wedding rituals of different communities was a kind of surreal experience, felt like an aura of God when mantras in Sanskrit chanted and ladies of the house sang folk wedding songs and little girls dancing on it. Old and young ones bantered and preparing for the evening and noon food and ladies busied in honoring the rituals.
I saw it close and enjoyed it when they also put a vermillion Tilak on my forehead. I felt something strange that I can’t describe in words. Ecstatic it was really to witness pre-wedding rituals that we foreigners only get to see on TVs channels or in some documentaries.
I am going to tell you about my experience with different communities’ pre-wedding rituals. Though whole India might definitely almost be familiar with all these but my country people are not. From my perspective, different communities’ pre-wedding rituals of India:
This state is so green and in fields, yellow flowers flow with the wind that I could see through my train’s window while coming to Chandigarh. We were here invited to Maya and Gautam pre-wedding ritual which is called Maiya or Vatna.
It is cleansing or purification ritual done for bride and groom especially to ward off evil eyes or everything evil around them, far and near. Though the ceremony always is held in their respective homes. Nowadays it is often seen that it is held together. What we can do, brides and grooms going modern.! It is three and four days before the wedding. In this ceremony, a special kind of doughy paste is rubbed on bride and groom which is made of turmeric powder, gram flour, and mustard oil.
Rangoli is also made and on a stool bride and groom are made to sit and elder family members and friends start to rub the paste with some strands of green grass. Jovial folk songs are sung and dance is also done. I did it too, enjoyed it a lot. When every elder members of the family finish rubbing the Vatna, mother at the end feeds a mixture of rice and sugar or jaggery to the bride and groom. During the ceremony, to guests, an auspicious thread is given which is for tying around the wrist or you can also wear in your neck.
When the ritual ends, the rangoli that is made on the inception of the ceremony, erased when the ritual gets finished by the bride and groom. But before erasing the rangoli, bride circles around it seven times and sprinkles water on it meshing into a paste. It is considered auspicious and said to bring fortune. After the ritual ends, bride leaves three handprints on the house’s wall whether in inside a room or outside the house. It is a symbol you can consider that bride is soon entering into groom’s family.
A very jovial, colorful, full of traditionality, the ecstatic atmosphere created during this ceremony I enjoyed it a lot and in a gesture for remembrance, I also left my handprints on the house wall of the family that invited me for their pre-wedding ritual. So much warm I felt.
The state of spices and lots of delectable seafoods that I got the opportunity to eat at a wedding family’s home. After witnessing the Punjabi pre-wedding ceremony my next destination was Kerala, from where spices around the world are exported. So green and with so much warm I was welcome with two elephants standing at the gate of the wedding family’s home. One elephant wore me a mala of yellow flowers, garland and other sprinkled holy Ganga water over my body through its trunk.
It is a kind of traditional feast that is held in both bride and groom’s house in which they are made to sit east and served a traditional five-course meal with their respective family members. When the meal is done, both the bride and groom with their close family members visit a nearby temple or in which they want to offer their regards and prayers. When they return home, they touch the feet of their elders.
After Kerala, I went to Bollywood where it lives, the Bombay city which is now known as Mumbai, the official name but many still call it by the old name. It is the city where is everything. You can witness every color here, accidentally got a chance of seeing the shooting of a movie then I moved to Rishita and Sameer’s pre-wedding ritual, a Maharashtrian one that is known as Sakhar Puda, which simply means a packet of sugar.
It is the ritual heralding the inception of a wedding process in Marathi families. It is held some two and three days before the wedding, in which bride and groom family get together, and to the bride, a saree is given including jewelry and Sakhar Puda by groom’s mother welcoming the bride to their family, a kind of acceptance of her.
Sakhar Puda is also known as Nischay, a verbal agreement of love and acceptance of bride in Marathi families. It can also be said engagement, and definitely, it is. It is the usual exchange of things, jewelry, and sweetmeats between two families.
Bride is given a packet of sugar, clothes, and jewelry and to groom, coconut, gold and silver coins are given. Some families also hold ring ceremony after Sakhar Puda and some not. When this ceremony ends, the preparation of giving invitations is started.
All the pre-wedding rituals of different cities that I visited yet seemed to me common with little different variations. Rishita and Sameer have been in the relationship from their college days and they told me they never thought they would marry each other. It was just a friendship that turned into a lifelong one.
People here are so sweet and nice in talking and very gentle. That was the one thing I felt in the city Ahmadabad. While going to visit a pre-wedding ritual of a Gujarati family, in the middle of the way I ate Khakhra and Thepla which is very famous in the city and everyone lovingly eats it. The people here start their morning with it.
Gujarati people eat a lot and include a little bit of sweetness in every dish, without it they can’t live!. The couple whose wedding I visited was Rashmi and Rajat. Both are charted accountants and well to do.
I heard from my one friend in London when she visited her friend’s wedding that in Gujrati wedding everything is so sweet and grandeur. Since then I was very much interested to visit one and got the opportunity. Rashmi and Rajat were so nice to me and told me everything about their journey that how they got into the relationship.
In this Gujrati pre-wedding ritual bride’s father and some other men from the family visit groom’s family with some quantity of unrefined sugar and Kesar in an embellished pouch that is tied with a sacred thread which is called Nada Chari. Vermillion Tilak is applied on groom’s forehead which is known as Chandlo. It signifies the alliance between the two families.
Maatli is a clay container in which, in olden days sweetmeats are carried. It is the bride’s father who puts the vermillion tilak on the groom and nominal money is given as shagun. In return, for bride, a saree or jewelry is given to bride’s father including the nominal shagun amount.
I was sitting there when the pre-wedding ritual was going on, and bride's father also offered me some nominal amount playfully and invited me to the wedding. I captured the whole the rituals in my photographs. Rashmi and Rajat’s wedding was the only wedding that I went to except other ones. India is so big, so many states and cities that can’t be covered in a single visit. I am planning to come back to this country that has fascinated me with its multi-color vibes, warm gestures and emotions of several people that seemed to me like me. In my next visit, I would cover other pre-wedding rituals of other states. I ended my this first visit with only four states, hoping to come back and want to meet other lovely couples. Culture, ritual, and traditions of India always attract me such as these pre-wedding rituals of India for which people live.
Feature Image Via - studioorangephotography
By Shashank Gupta | 20 Nov, 2019
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