Marwaris, belonging to the Marwar region of Rajasthan, are known to be one of the most traditional communities of India as they follow all customs, traditions and rituals during all big and small ceremonies that take place in their day-to-day lives.
The same holds true to their wedding ceremonies as well, which are a very extravagant, lavish and ornate affair that lasts for several days. A Marwari wedding is all about the endless rituals and customs practiced ever since the marriage of the to-be bride and groom gets fixed. These rituals are broken down into 3 different categories: pre-wedding rituals, wedding rituals and post-wedding rituals.
Let’s get to know about a few traditions associated with the elaborate ceremony of a typical Marwari marriage ceremony in Rajasthan.
The engagement ceremony takes place at the groom’s home. This ceremony doesn’t include female members, not even the bride. The bride’s brother performs ‘Tilak’, which is a ritual in which he applies tilak on the groom’s forehead and presents him gifts in the form of clothes, sweets and fruits.
This ceremony takes place a couple of days before the wedding day where both the families install an idol of Lord Ganesha at their respective homes to bless all ceremonies of the wedding. A puja or havan is organized to pray for peace and prosperity in the life of the to-be bride and groom post their wedding during this ceremony.
This is one of the important and the most fun-filled pre-wedding ritual performed during a Marwari wedding. During this ceremony a turmeric and sandalwood paste is applied to the bride and the groom. According to customs, once the ‘Peethi’ ceremony starts, the bride and the groom cannot move out of their houses till the wedding day. The bride dresses up in a traditional yellow-orange dress for this ritual and the groom also wears yellow when the ritual is performed.
Friends and close relatives often take the most advantage of this ritual and wrap the bride and groom in turmeric and sandalwood paste from head to toe, often messing up their hair and faces badly. Separate small gatherings are organized on both sides where people enjoy dancing and singing. Ladies sing traditional wedding songs and perform their folk dance – ghoomar.
This ceremony is known to be an expensive affair! The maternal uncles of the bride and the groom’s side present a lot of gifts and goodies in the form of clothes, gold, jewellery and sweets to the entire family. The mothers of the bride and the groom extend their warm welcome to their respective brothers.
This ritual is practiced because of the old belief that it is the duty of the brother to help his sister. Since the expenditure is considerably huge at the time of wedding, brothers extend their hands to help the sister in the form of gifts.
During the Janeu ritual the groom gets dressed in saffron coloured clothes and performs a havan. A sacred thread called ‘Janeu’ is given to the groom for wearing after performing the havan. This ritual signifies that the groom accepts the institution of marriage and he is ready to take up the responsibilities that come with marriage.
The relatives of the groom carry the wedding outfit, jewellery and gifts for the bride, which the bride is supposed to wear for the wedding ceremony.
Sehra, a headgear, is tied to the groom by his brother-in-law. The groom’s sister applies kajal to his eyes and also ties golden threads to the reins of the wedding mare. After this the groom’s family takes out the Baraat procession to the bride’s place.
The groom dressed up in traditional attire reaches the bride’s place riding a mare and having a sword in his hand and his entire family enjoying the procession, which looks no less than a traditional walk of some Rajput king.
The entrance to the bride’s place is decorated with a Toran. On reaching the bride’s place, the groom is supposed to hit the Toran with a stick of a neem tree to ward off any evil eye. Also, the groom is then welcomed by his mother-in-law by a traditional aarti at the doorstep.
Post a warm welcome at the doorstep, the groom is taken inside. The bride arrives with a long veil covering her face as per the Rajputana culture (some brides with shorter or no veils). During the Jaimala ceremony, the bride and the groom exchange garlands and then proceed to the Mandap for other wedding rituals.
This ritual is about tying the nuptial knot. The groom’s sister or the priest ties the bride’s dupatta to the cloth tied to the groom’s waist. This eternal knot signifies the union of the two for life.
During the Panigrahan Sanskaar, which is a simple yet beautiful ceremony, the groom holds the bride’s hands and promises to stand by her through thick and thin, in good times as well as the bad ones.
The bride and the groom walk around the holy fire flames of their Mandap in circles called Pheras while the priest chants mantras. Every Phera signifies a wedding vow, where the bride and the groom promise each other a few things and they are supposed to keep their promises for the rest of their lives. There are 7 Pheras in all.
In some Marwari homes, 4 Pheras are done at the Mandap while the remaining 3 are done later at the entrance.
The bride puts her foot on the grinding stone. This custom symbolizes that the bride will face all challenges with courage. After this the bride’s brother hands her a handful of puffed rice which she passes to the groom and the groom then offers them to the fire. This custom signifies the brother’s happiness and wishes to the newly-wed couple.
The bride sits towards the left side of the groom as the human heart is on the left. This signifies that the groom is accepting the bride as his partner and is giving her a place in his heart. Post this the Sindoordaan ceremony takes place where the groom fills the parting of the bride’s hair with Sindoor.
Post the wedding it is time for the bride and the groom to depart for their home together. During the Bidai ceremony a coconut is placed under the wheel of the car in which the bride and the groom are supposed to travel. The bride then departs for her in-laws home with the groom.
After arriving at the new home rituals like Grahpravesh, Pagelagni and Mooh dikhai take place in which all relatives present gifts to the bride to welcome her in the family and bless the new couple.
These are just the main rituals followed in a Marwari wedding. There are many more fun rituals with some significance behind them. These rituals actually make Marwari weddings a charming affair. So, the next time you get a chance to visit a Marwari wedding, don’t miss the chance.
Though the demonetization of the old Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes has taken a toll over this wedding season, we are hoping that situations would get better in the coming weeks.