Dhoti Kurta in vibrant colours with a Bandhni dupatta and Pagdi, gorgeous Chaniya Cholis and Panetar sarees...you know it's a wedding of a Gujarati couple when you see a palette of colours everywhere. The catchy folk music, the scrumptious vegetarian dishes and a whole lot of rites and rituals along with fun wedding games.
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From pre-wedding rituals to post-wedding functions, you will never have a dull moment when you're attending a typical Gujarati wedding. Intrigued to know more? Let's walk you through all that goes on at a wedding from day 1 till the end! Read on, and enjoy learning about the exotic culture from the Western part of India.
Right before the wedding, there is a series of pre-wedding rituals followed in a typical Gujarati wedding. Take a look:
Chandlo in Gujarati is a red vermillion Tika and Matli means money. According to the Chandlo Matli custom, the groom and four of his male family members visit the bride's house. The bride's father applies the red Chandlo on his forehead and gifts him token money and blesses him. On this occasion, the wedding date is also fixed among the two families.
Gold Dhana literally means coriander seeds and jaggery. In a Gujarati wedding, Gold Dhana basically represents a Sagai ceremony or Engagement. The bride and her family arrive at the groom's family with sweets and gifts. The couple then exchanges engagement rings and seeks blessings from five married women from each family. A homely feast is arranged with all kinds of traditional Gujarati dishes and both families celebrate the first official milestone of the wedding ceremonies.
Ganesh Sthapna or Ganesh Matli
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Just like most Hindu weddings and other traditions, the beginning of a Gujarati wedding is marked with the worship of Lord Ganesha. Ganesh Matli or Ganesh Sthapan is performed at both houses of the bride and groom separately. The idea behind a Ganesh Puja is to seek blessings for an obstacle-free wedding and the couple's prosperous married life.
Right after the Mandap Mahurat is performed, the family priests in both houses perform another Puja addressing all planets and stars. In a Gujarati wedding, a Griha Shanti Puja is an absolute must to ensure a happy and peaceful marital life for the couple. This Puja is basically to avoid any kind of astrological and planetary hurdles that might appear.
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Two days prior to the wedding, the Mehndi ceremony is followed at the bride's house. All the women in the family and the bride's sisters, cousins and friends assemble and apply Mehndi on their palms. The bride's hands and feet are adorned with gorgeous henna designs and all the ladies sing and dance to folk songs or Mehndi songs.
Sanjhi or Sangeet Sandhya
Sanji is a fun filled musical evening that almost await eagerly awaits at a Gujarati wedding! On a Sangeet Sandhya or a Sangeet ceremony both the families get together, sing folk songs, perform Dandiya and Garba dances with full fervour! A Sanji is the first occasion where both families get the opportunity to know each other and break the ice through music and dancing.
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On a Mandap Mahurat also known as Mangal Mahurat, both families seek blessings from Mother Earth at their respective homes. They worship the piece of land where they would later create the wedding mandap and ask mother Earth's permission to carry out the ritual.
Just a day before the wedding, Pithi or a Haldi ceremony is performed in a Gujarati wedding at both bride's and groom's houses, separately. The bride/groom is seated on a low seat called Bajat, and a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, rosewater and herbs is applied on their faces and palms. The Pithi is traditionally prepared by the bride/groom's paternal uncle's wife (Kaki). Once the Pithi is applied, the bride/groom is given a holy bath.
Mosalu and Mameru
Mameru/Mosalu in a Gujarati wedding is a tradition quite similar to a Mahira Dastoor in a Marwari wedding. The bride's maternal uncle (Mama) and her maternal aunt's husband (Mousa) visits the bride's home a day before the wedding. As per the custom, Mama and Mousa gifts the bride with traditional Panetar saree, jewellery, ivory Chura, sweets, dry fruits and so on wrapped beautifully in grand trousseau trays.
Gujarati Wedding rituals
Now let's a look at the Gujarati wedding traditions that take place on the wedding day:
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A Varghodo in a Gujarati wedding involves a series of rituals right before the groom proceeds to the wedding venue. The family priest hands a bowl of coins wrapped in a cloth to the groom's sister which she moves around the groom's head a couple of times. The coin sounds are supposed to ward off evil spirits. The groom's sister performs this ritual also to remind her brother that even though he's getting married, he should not forget his sister! After this, the groom and the whole family set out in a procession singing and dancing all the way to the venue.
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As the groom riding on a gracefully decorated mare arrives at the wedding venue along with his family, Jaan ritual is performed for their welcome. A Jaan or Agaman ceremony is performed particularly to welcome the groom's family with sweets and Aarti.
Ponkhnu is a fun tradition in Gujarati wedding. It basically represents welcoming the groom to the wedding mandap. The bride's mother performs Aarti feeds him sweets and blesses him before entering. However, after that, she attempts to pull the groom's nose in jest to remind him to be humble as he's here to ask their daughter's hand! The groom in return tries to escape the nose-pulling. This eventually becomes quite a playful tradition and everyone has a good laugh.
When both the bride and the groom arrive at the wedding mandap, it's time for the Jaimala ritual. The couple exchanges floral garlands with each other. There are sometimes Jaimala songs that are played at the background and everyone cheers.
The next ritual in a Gujarati wedding is called Madhuparka when the bride's mother leads the groom to the mandap and washes his feet with milk and water. She then offers the groom Panchamrut which comprises of milk, yoghurt, sugar, ghee and honey. All this while, the bride's sisters scheme and implement the whole Joota Chhupai ritual.
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An Antarpat is a cloth that's drawn between the bride and the groom once the bride enters the mandap. This ritual in a Gujarati wedding is carried out to prevent the couple from seeing each other's face.
Like in most Hindu weddings, a Gujarati wedding too follows a Kanyadaan tradition where the father of the bride gives away his daughter to the groom. He first washes the groom's feet and with folded hands asks him to take care of his daughter entrusting her responsibility to the groom.
The wedding priest ties the holy knot by joining the groom's shawl and the bride's saree Palla signifying the unification of two souls. He also places both their hands together and chants holy mantras. All family members and relatives bless the couple by throwing rice grains and rose petals on them.
In Mangal Pheras the couple takes four circles around the holy fire while chanting mantras depicting oaths to be with each other throughout their lives. The four pheras each signify "Dharma", "Artha", "Kama" and "Moksha" respectively and are the four pillars of a happy married life. After every round, the brother of the bride hands them puffed rice to be offered to sacred fire (similar to Khoi fela in a Bengali wedding).
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The Saptapadi ritual is one of the most crucial ones in a Gujarati wedding, just like any other Hindu wedding. The bride and the groom now take seven steps together while taking seven vows of the holy matrimony. The seven vows include the promises to love, respect, take care of each other, planning a family and be eternally together.
Sindoor daan, Mangalsutra & Kansar
The final three steps in a Gujarati wedding are as follows: First, the groom applies vermillion (Sindoor) on the bride's hair mid parting. This marks as the bride's first symbol as a married woman. He then ties the holy Mangalsutra around the bride's neck. Finally, the newly married couple feeds sweets to each other, which is known as the Kansar at the end of the wedding ceremony.
The wedding ceremony comes to an end with the newlywed touching their elder's feet seeking their blessings.
Post-wedding rituals of a Gujarati wedding
The post-wedding rituals in a Gujarati wedding are mostly simple and similar to many other Indian wedding traditions. Read on to know more:
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Seven married women are invited t bless the just married couple. When the couple seeks their blessings, each woman utters the phrase "Saubhagyavati Bhava" to the bride which means "may your marital life flourish with eternal glory".
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A rather funny Gujarati wedding ritual, the groom catches the Pallu of his mother in law's saree and asks for more gifts! Everyone then fills up her saree Pallu with cash and gifts which are later presented to the groom's family.
Ashirvad & Reception
Members from both the families bless the couple and then a reception dinner is thrown in their honour. Everyone is invited and formally congratulate the couple and everyone enjoys a hearty feast.
After the reception is over, the bride bids farewell to her paternal home in an emotional Vidaai ceremony. She throws rice grains from the back of her head towards the house she's leaving. It's a representation of her paying debts to her family.
Ghar Nu Laxmi
The bride is warmly welcomed in her new home by her mother in law. She performs Aarti of the couple and welcomes the bride. The bride is then supposed to enter the house by pushing a grain-filled pot right at the doorstep. This is considered an auspicious custom in a Gujarati wedding and is believed to bring good luck.
Aeki Beki is a fun wedding game played by the newly-wed couple. A large vessel is filled with milk, vermillion, water, coins and a gold ring. The couple has to find the ring inside the vessel using only their right hands. The winner in this game receives token money or gift from the family.
GUJARATI WEDDING ATTIRE
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A traditional Gujarati groom wears a Dhoti and Kurta and drapes a colourful tie & dye Bandhani dupatta around his neck. He also wears a matching vibrant Pagdi with stone & pearl embellishments. The groom carries a small dagger called Katar as one of his groom accessories.
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The bride in a Gujarati wedding drapes a traditional Panetar saree in vivid colours with bright red borders. The sarees are usually made of Gajji silk fabric. The unique style of a Gujarati saree draping is the Pallu is pleated at the front instead of back. The sarees are heavily embellished with zari thread work. Another kind of saree used in a wedding is a Gharchola saree that is usually worn in the post-wedding traditions. The bride adorns her hands and feet with intricate Gujarati mehndi designs which are especially known for their perfectly symmetrical patterns. She wears an embellished Bindi, Gala nu haar (necklace), Kaan ni Butti (earrings), Kil (Nath or Nathni), Bajubandh or armlets, Kandora (Kamarbandh belt), Rani Haar and Damini (Matha Patti).
A Gujarati wedding is a pure display of vibrant culture and colourful traditions. Although some traditions are now upgraded or changes with time, most of the rituals are still followed. For example, many Gujarati grooms now prefer sporting a designer Sherwani with pajama or Indo-western outfits instead of a Dhoti kurta. However, brides mostly prefer to go traditional when it comes to their wedding outfits. Some of the wedding traditions are changed in terms of chronology. Like many couples arrange the wedding reception as the final ceremony after the bride reaches her new family. Some brides opt for a western gown for their reception party. Or, a blended version of Sanji is celebrated by including both Dandiya as well as pop music! Now, if you get invited to a Gujarati wedding, we suggest you learn a few Garba steps to rock that Sangeet Sandhya!
Take a look at some traditional Gujarati hairstyles for brides and bridesmaids!