Marwadi Wedding is a traditional and elaborate affair. Pre and post wedding ceremonies stretch for days where tradition and customs take precedence over everything else.
Matchmaking is the foremost part of the Marwari wedding process as most Marwaris prefer to go in for arranged marriages. To ensure a perfect alliance Marwaris follow the following criteria-
- Marriage alliance should be made within the community.
- The social and financial status of the families has to be at par.
- The horoscopes have to be tallied by the family astrologer.
A number of pre-wedding rituals take place in a traditional Marwari Wedding. Please read on to know more about them.
- Engagement (Tika) Ceremony : Engagement ceremony takes place at the home of the groom. The ceremony makes match making official and binding for both bride and groom. Only the bride's father, brother and other close relatives attend this ceremony. Ladies not even the bride accompany men folk for the 'tika'. The ceremony is so called because the bride's brother actually applies a tilak to the groom's forehead and makes the alliance or engagement official. A sword and other presents including clothes, fruits, sweets etc are also given to the groom.
- Ganapati Sthapna (installation) and Griha Shanti Ceremony : Ganapati sthapana and griha shanti is the second most important ceremony of any Marwari wedding performed usually a few days prior to the wedding. In this, a havan is performed by the groom or bride's parents to propitiate the gods. An idol of Lord Ganapati is installed. All ceremonies commence only after the sthapana.
- Pithi Dastoor Ceremony (Ban) : The pithi dastoor is one of the first important ceremonies, which involves the bride/groom and continues until the day of the wedding. The actual ceremony consists of application of turmeric and sandal wood paste to the bride/ groom. Custom goes that once the pithi starts the bride and the groom cannot leave the house.The pithi dastoor at the bride's house is an elaborate affair. The bride dresses in a traditional orange poshak and is then brought under a silken canopy, which is held with the help of swords on the four corners by four ladies who must belong to the same clan as the bride. She is brought to the ladies gathering, who then apply the paste to her. A similar ceremony takes place at the groom's house as well, although it is not as elaborate. Dholans (women singers with dholak) sing auspicious pre-wedding songs while the ceremony is in progress. It is interesting to note that dholans are omnipresent in throughout the Marwadi wedding celebrations. They are accompanied by the Shehnai and the nagara players
- Mehfils : Mehfils are the integral part of a Marwari wedding. These are usually held in the evenings. Separate mehfils are organised for the women and the men. At the ladies' mehfil, all the womenfolk gather at a central place in an enclosed courtyard or hall. Dressed in dazzling dresses, they perform the ghoomar (a special dance done in a group). The bride at the mehfil is given an important position to sit and watch the proceedings. Of course, the men have their own mehfil, where singers perform and these are strictly all male parties.
- Mahira Dastoor : The mahira dastoor is yet another important ceremony, common to both the bride and the groom's families. This ceremony is performed by the maternal uncle (Mama) of the groom/bride, who, along with his wife and family, arrives with much fanfare, and is received by the bride/groom's mother with the traditional welcome. The uncle then gives clothes, jewellery, sweets etc., to the entire family and relatives. The ceremony signifies that since at the time of a wedding there is considerable expenditure, it is the duty of the brother to help his sister at her child's wedding.
- Janev Ceremony: Following the custom, the groom has to be dressed in saffron robes like an ascetic and perform a havan before wearing the thread. The saffron robe signifies that the groom now has two choices before him. That is either he renounces the world and becomes an ascetic, or he accepts the institution of marriage and its responsibilities. After the havan is completed and the thread given, the groom has to make a mock attempt to run from the chains of marriage while the maternal uncle must catch him and convince his nephew into accepting marriage.
- Palla Dastoor : On the day of the actual wedding, or maybe a day prior to it, the palla dastoor is brought in by a few of the groom's relatives to the bride's house. The palla dastoor consists of clothes, jewelery and gifts from the groom, which the bride has to wear during the wedding ceremony.
- Nikasi : In a Marwadi wedding, the groom wears a padgi or headgear which is tied up by the jija (sister's husband). The groom also wears 'pecha', 'kalgi' and 'tani'. A sehra either of flowers or of pearls is tied on the pagdi. The sister in law (brother's wife) of the boy applies kajal in his eyes. Later, groom's sisters tie golden threads to the reins of the mare in a ceremony called 'vaag-gunthai'. While the sister is performing the ritual, her husband holds the reins of the horse. As a custom, the groom pays a visit to the temple first before proceeding to the girl's house.
- Toran : The entrance of the girl's house is decorated with a 'toran'. As a custom the groom hits the toran with a stick of neem. This ceremony is called 'toranachar' and is symbolic of warding off the evil eye. After this the girl's mother does 'aarti' and 'tilak' to the boy.
- Jaimala : The groom is escorted to a dais prepared for the Jaimala ceremony. As is customary in Hindu marriages, the bride and groom exchange garlands. This is the first step of the wedding rituals.
After jaimala or varmala ceremony, the bride and groom is taken to another mandap where rituals related to phera are performed.
- Granthi-Bandhan : The next step is 'granthi-bandhan' or tying the knot. In this the cloth tied around the groom's waist is tied to the chunni of the bride. The ceremony is symbolic of the union of two individuals. From this day they become one entity. Either the sister of the groom or the priest does it.
- Paanigrahan : This is followed by the 'paanigrahan' ceremony. The groom takes the bride's hand in his hand. It is again a symbol of this most pious union. It signifies that they will now be together in good times and bad.
- Pheras : Then the groom and the bride go around the fire. This act is called 'pheras'. In a Marawadi wedding only four 'pheras' are done in the mandap, rest of the three pheras are performed at the entrance. Following the tradition, in the two pheras, the girl is in the front and in the other two the boy leads.
- Ashwahrohan : In the Ashwarnarohan ceremony the girl puts her foot on a grinding stone. The custom is symbolic of steadfastness and symbolic of facing every challenge with courage. Then the brothers of the bride puts 'kheel' or puffed rice in the bride's hand, which are passed to the groom's hand and then offered to the fire. This ritual is symbolic of brother's happiness and wishes of prosperity for his sister and her husband.
- Vamang-Sthapana and Sindurdaan : Later, in a ceremony called ' vamang-sthpana' the groom requests the bride to sit on his left side, because the heart is in the left side of the body. This signifies that the groom is accepting the bride and is establishing her in his heart. This is followed by sindurdaan ceremony wherein the groom fills the bride's centre hair parting with sindoor or vermillion. Sindoor is considered to be the most auspicious sign of a Hindu married woman.
- Saptapadi : Now, 'saptapadi' is carried out. The bride and the groom walk seven steps together. This signifies that till now they have walked alone but from now on, they will always walk together in synchronization. While observing the custom, the bride and the groom utter seven sentences, which are in fact promises, they make regarding their conduct towards each other. After this 'pherpatta' is done which signifies that the bride can freely proceed to her in-laws house. After this the sister of the groom does the 'sargunthi' or adorning of the girl's hair. This ritual signifies acceptance of bride by the groom's family.
- Aanjhala Bharaai : Following the 'aanjhala bharai' tradition, a bag full of money is put in the new bride's lap by her father-in-law. This is his way of welcoming her into his family and also to make her aware of her family responsibilities. The bride then distributes a part of this money to her sister-in-law and her husband. After this the new couple get up from the mandap. All the elders bless them when the couple touches their feet.
- Paharavani : The groom is then taken for 'paharavani' wherein he is made to sit on a new cloth or asana and is welcomed by a Tika. He is also given gifts in the form of money, clothes and other things for his personal use. A silver utensil or kachola is given to the groom's father. The woman folk of the bride's side then take the groom for the fun-filled 'shloka kahalai' session wherein he is made to recite poems or dohas. After this, the bride worships the threshold (dahaleez) of her paternal home and breaks an earthen diya on it. The groom and the bride are escorted out and they leave for the groom's house.
- Bidai : At the time of the bidai, a coconut is placed under the wheel of the car before the bride lifts her veil for the husband after the wedding. At this stage, the groom usually gives a piece of jewelry to his bride.
There are a few but interesting post-wedding rituals of a Marwari Wedding:
- Grihapravesh : Grihapravesh takes place once the baraat returns with the newly weds. The bride still wears the veil while the puja and other ceremonies take place.
- Pagelagni : Pagelagni takes place the day following the grihapravesh. This is a ceremony where the bride, still in veil, is formally introduced to all the family members of the groom who bless her and give her gifts. The veil is then finally removed.
Other post - wedding ceremonies include the 'Chura' wherein the mother-in-law presents bangles to the bride. While during the 'Mooh Dikhai', the bride gets a chance to get acquainted with all her new family members one by one.