The wide ways in which marriage ceremonies are performed in the country reflect the diversity of India from more than a single angle. While we know the rituals and traditions of some communities quite extensively, some often stay behind the curtains. We intend to take the curtain up today and talk about the wedding rituals that take place during Jain marriage ceremonies.
The Jain community in India are the oldest followers of the Sramana traditions, following the faith laid down by the 24 Tirthankars. Largely, a business-oriented community, Jains thrive across the country in more than 110 sub-cultural sects. They also have a strong presence abroad. The group is known for close-knit and strong family ties and simple approaches to life.
So, when a Jain marriage ceremony takes place, it is a strong celebration of family and friends - simple in ethos and yet expansive in scale. Here are some of the more common traditions that one would see during a wedding from the community. While the traditions and customs may differ by region, but their essence remains the same:
So, let’s see what it is all about!
Khol Barana and Tikka
Khol Barana is the inauguration of the Jain marriage ceremonies. As a custom, the groom’s family gifts a silver plate with the auspicious coconut and some cash as a Shagun. While this is called the Khol Barana, the tradition of the bride’s family going to the groom’s home with gifts is known as the tikka or the Tilak ceremony.
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The Lagna Lekhan is a Jain marriage ceremony in which the date of the wedding is decided after a Puja being conducted at the bride’s place. The precise date and time of the wedding are decided on this day.
This is akin to finding the Shubh Mahurat and consultation of the almanack or the Kundlis, as done when astrologers try to divine a marriage muhurat by date of birth.
Lagna Patrika Vachan
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You will find this ceremony quite interesting and unique to the Jain community. Here, a letter, usually formal, is drafted. The letter contains the Muhurat of the wedding and is sent out to the groom’s family. The groom’s family opens and reads this letter in front of close relatives after a small puja.
A Lagna Patrika Vachan for a Jain marriage ceremony is akin to a Marathi Lagna Patrika.
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The Sagai or the engagement ceremony doesn’t involve the couple exchanging rings, like in most other communities. In the Jain community, Jain marriage is announced through a tilak. The bride’s family visits the groom’s family and gifts and sweets are exchanged along with a tilak ceremony of the groom.
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While the intent and timing for the Mehndi ceremony during a Jain marriage are quite similar to one across the country, we do see subtle differences here. The mehndi function here is more of a homely affair, with the women coming together to apply mehndi designs to the hands of the bride and dab some for the groom as well.
There are also some distinct Jain mehndi designs that are in high demand during this function, which stand distinct from the kind of designs we would see on brides everywhere else.
The mehndi ceremony here is just like in most Indian ceremonies. Women from the extended Jain family The females of the family gather and mehndi are applied to the hands of the bride.
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A Jain marriage has its own version of the Haldi ceremony, called the Bana Betai. Here, however, instead of the common turmeric paste, the bride and the groom get a dab of chickpea paste or besan, followed by a ritualistic bath.
The Jain Marriage
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The Mada Mandap is the ritual of sanctifying the Mandap where the wedding is to take place. It’s one of the first rituals performed on the day of a Jain marriage.
And something similar once again! The Ghudchadi is the ceremony in which the groom initiates with the Barat on his horse. The females of the house tighten the headgear and apply tilak on the groom’s forehead before the procession starts.
In simple language, we understand Barati as the procession with the groom but as per Jain rituals, Barati is the welcome of the procession by the bride’s family. The bride’s brother also gives a welcome gift to the bride which contains coconuts, sweets, clothes, and other things.
The traditional folk song is then sung by the bride’s mother and other married females of the house while welcoming the groom with a tilak. Quite a traditional scene, isn’t it?
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And then comes the most emotional custom of all, the giving away of the bride! The parents of the bride present the bride to the groom and make a declaration of their daughter being married to the groom. The groom takes the bride’s hand (which consists of a rupee and a quarter along with some rice) and the pundit chants the mantras.
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Granthi Bandhan is the ritual in which a married woman of the family ties the ends of the bride and groom’s clothes.
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The pheras are similar to the Hindu tradition in which the bride and groom take seven rounds around the fire and take their wedding vows.
The family members bidding farewell to their daughter is known as the Bidaai ceremony. We fail to put the emotion of the moment into words.
Sva Graha Aagamana
And after a tearful ending, arrives a happy beginning. The bride is welcomed to her in-laws' house with rituals, which differ as per the region and local sects. After that, a ritual is performed in which the couple visits a Jain temple and distributes alms to the poor.
Organised after a day, or a couple of days after, the reception is held by the groom’s family where relatives and friends come and bless the couple for a happy married life.
Just like other communities of India, the ceremonies included in a Jain marriage are also deep-rooted into the values and traditions of the community. To have such variant ways of getting married is only seen in India, truly incredible India.
How has your experience of attending a Jain wedding been? Do tell us in the comments below.