Traditional Gujrathi Marriage
WW Events has been planning and organizing weddings in Goa since 2008 gaining valuable experience in diverse cultures and traditions. Being a part of several Gujarati celebrations, here is a overview guide to planning a Gujarati marriage. A Gujarati ceremony has plenty of customs and traditions that are still adhered to even today. It is a grand occasion for the family and calls for a huge celebration that begins with the pre-marriage festivities.
The Sagaai (Engagement)
Called ‘Sagaai’ in Hindi, this celebration takes place at the grooms home where the bride arrives with a traditional ‘Malti’ (a goodie basket packed with sweets and gifts and presented to the groom and his family on a steel platter) which is the representation of good luck for the journey ahead. It is also a symbolic gesture of the family’s acceptance of the couples union. A brief ceremony follows where in four to five women from either side of the family bless the couple. This signifies a promise between the two families.
The ‘Garba’ is a fun filled party held just before the big day and involves a lot of dance and entertainment. It is an occasion for both the sides of the family to take the opportunity to get acquainted with each other before the actual festivities begin. The highlight of the event is the ‘Raas’ which is an entertaining dance with ‘dandiya’ sticks that are tapped together with your dance partner in accordance to the music. The garba kicks off all the other ceremonies that will follow.
The ‘Pithi’ is a traditional cleansing ceremony that is performed by the bride’s and the groom’s families individually. The family invites close friends and relatives to apply a paste usually made of turmeric to the boy or the girl. Turmeric, known in India as haldi, is a root of the ginger family native to South Asia and has great religious and spiritual significance.
This ceremony calls for all the female members from both sides of the family to decorate their hands and feet with mehendi or henna. The brides begins the ceremony with artists decorating the bride’s hands and feet first with intricate designs followed by those of the guests.
Prayers are offered to Lord Ganeshs in this ceremony which is considered auspicious. The Pundit visits the homes of the bride and groom before the big day and conducts a puja.
The horoscopes of the bride and the groom are matched in advance and a date and time is set by the Pandit to conduct the puja. All the relatives and family members of the bride and groom join together in offering these prayers. The puja is set to symbolically invoke the peace and blessing from the stars for the couple.
The Baraat marks the arrival of the groom to the venue accompanied by his friends and family. The is a traditional ride usually on a horse or carriage and in some cases even an elephant. Family member and friends are seen dancing in celebration around the groom accompanied by music and firecrackers.
The ‘Ponkvu’ describes the beginning of the Gujrati ceremony. It starts with the groom being welcomed by his mother-in-law at the entrance of the venue. She then performs the ‘arti’ and also playfully tries to reach the nose of the groom that symbolizes the groom coming to the mother’s doorstep asking for her daughter’s hand in marriage .
The Ponkvu is followed by the bride being brought for the exchange of garlands between herself and her groom. You often see friends picking the bride higher than the height of the groom which playfully symbolizes that you cannot take away this precious girl from her family.
Following the Jaimala, the mother-in-law invites the groom to the mandap for the next set of rituals. The groom is offered a light drink of honey and milk and his feet are washed. During this ritual, the sisters-in-law tries to steal the shoes of the groom which is yet another symbolic gesture that is still carried out till this date. The groom has to return with the same shoes he enters the ‘Madhurparka’ with and hence must offer the sisters-in-law some money for his shoes.
The maternal uncle of the bride leads her to the mandap to begin the next set of rituals. At the mandap, a curtain (Antarpaat) separates the bride and the groom from each other. The Archarya that is performing the ritual begins with prayers and offerings to the Gods and the Antarpaat is gradually lowered followed by the couple exchanging garlands. The sacred fire is lit here and the pundit carries out the ritual pujas.
This part of the ceremony symbolically represents the parents of the bride giving their daughters hand in marriage to the groom, by literally placing her hand in his. The parents of the bride fast just before the nuptials symbolizing their purity to this occasion. This ritual symbolizes the handing over of their precious daughter which is depicted as Goddess Laxmi over to the groom, depicted by Lord Vishnu.
The union of the bride and groom is symbolized by tying of the groom’s scarf to the bride’s saree. Rituals are performed as the acharya chants prayers to invoke the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Parvati for the bride. Grains of rice and rose petals are showered over the couple by friends and family that symbolises their blessings.
In this part of the ceremony, a necklace is symbolically tied around the neck of the bridal couple by the elders of the family that is said to protect them from evil and negativity.
Following the Varnmala, the bride and groom circle around the sacred fire four times signifying Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. As this is being done, the pundit recites various mantras after which the bride and the groom move to the next part of the ritual.
Seven vows are recited during this part of the ritual where the bride along with the grooms help touches seven betel nuts with her right toe. Mantras chanted by the groom symbolise his supporting his wife during this process.
During this part of the ceremony, seven married women from the bride’s family walk around the bride and groom whispering blessings into the bride’s right ear.
After the mother of the bride blesses the couple, the groom is traditionally required to tug his mother in law’s saree which is a symbolic gesture asking the bride’s family for gifts.
This part of the ritual is the conclusion of the entire ceremony where the couple now asks for blessings from their elders marking the end of the ceremony.
So that brings to an end the lengthy rituals involved in a Gujarati ceremony. Rest assured, we are more than capable of handling all of the above for you including planning and choosing the right venues, getting the much-needed Government clearances, catering for the right type of food and entertainment for your guests and looking after their every need.