Considered to be one of the richest communities of India, the Marwaris originally hail from the royal state of Rajasthan. Taking pride in their inherent culture, the Marwaris are richly endowed with the intrinsic customs and rituals. To this day, their weddings reflect a grandness that is seldom seen elsewhere. Let us find out what makes a Marwari wedding such an endearing one.
Sagai/Tika: This marks the start to an extravagant wedding ceremony. Sagai (engagement) refers to the formal ceremony wherein the alliance is formally announced. It takes place at the groom's house and involves only male members. The bride's father, brother and close male members visit the groom's place. The bride's brother then applies tika (tilak) to the groom's forehead as a sign to formalize the bond. The groom is then given gifts which includes a sword, clothes, sweets, fruits and the likes.
Ganapati sthapana and Griha shanti: Ganapati sthapana and griha shanti refers to the havan that takes place at both the bride's and groom's respective homes a few days prior to the wedding. An idol of Lord Ganesha is installed so that the wedding festivities proceed without any hurdle.
Pithi dastoor/Baan: This is one of the most important pre-wedding ritual which involves the bride/groom and continues until the day of the wedding. The actual ceremony involves the application of turmeric and sandalwood paste to the bride/groom. Custom goes that once this ceremony starts, the bride/groom are not supposed to venture out of their houses. The pithi dastoor ritual is held with much fanfare at the bride's house. Dressed in an orange poshak (Rajasthani attire), the bride is brought under a silken canopy which is held with the help of four swords by four ladies belonging to the same clan as of the bride. Dholans (women singers with dholak) sing auspicious songs while the ceremony is in progress.
Mehfils: An integral part of every Rajasthani wedding, mehfils are an occasion of merry-making. Held in the evening, they are held separately for men and women. Traditional ghoomar dance is performed at the ladies' mehfil where all the ladies take part in. A special seating is reserved for the bride from where she can enjoy all the performances. The men have their own mehfil with singers performing; entry to this is strictly prohibited for women.
Mahira dastoor: Mahira dastoor takes place at both the bride's and the groom's houses. This ceremony is performed by the maternal uncle (mama) of the bride/groom who along with his wife is received with much gaiety by the bride/groom's mother. The uncle then distributes clothes, jewelry, sweets, cash to the entire family. This ritual is based on an old custom when it was believed that it is the duty of the brother to help his sister at the time of wedding when expenses are considerably high.
Janev: The janev ritual is only meant for the groom. The groom dressed in saffron clothes performs a havan and wears a sacred thread. He is given two options now: one of becoming an ascetic and the other to be a householder. The groom makes a mock attempt to escape from the institution of marriage. This is when his maternal uncle persuades him into assuming his responsibility as a householder.
Palla dastoor: This ritual is performed either on the day of the wedding or a day prior. Some of the groom's relatives arrive at the bride's place and presents her with the wedding outfit, jewelry and other gifts. The bride is supposed to adorn herself in these for the wedding ceremony.
Nikasi: This ritual involves the tying of the groom's sehra (headgear). It is traditionally tied by the groom's brother-in-law. Once the sehra is in place, the groom's sister-in-law applies kajal (kohl) in his eyes while the groom's sister ties golden threads to the reins of the mare. The groom's party is now ready to start the journey to the wedding venue.
Baraat: A Rajasthani baraat consists of only male members. The procession looks regal and traditionally, does not involve any dancing. Every member including the groom carries a majestic sword. The groom generally rides a mare or sometimes an elephant.
Toranachar: The entrance of the bride's house or the wedding venue is decorated with a toran. As custom goes, the groom hits the toran with a stick of neem to ward off the evil eye. Following this, the bride's mother does aarti and applies tilak to the groom and lead him inside the venue.
Jaimala: The bride is now brought out with her face fully covered. The couple now exchanges garlands and are led to another mandap where the main rituals are to be performed. The groom is accompanied by a single male relative (generally his younger brother).
Granthi bandhan: Granthi bandhan refers to the tying of the eternal knot between the two individuals. One end of the bride's dupatta is tied to the scarf of the groom by the groom's sister or the priest.
Paanigrahan: This ritual involves the groom taking the bride's hand in his hand, promising to stand by each other in good times or bad.
Pheras: Amidst the chanting of mantras by the priest, the bride and the groom circle around the sacred fire. Mostly, only four pheras take place in the mandap, with the bride leading the first two. Three pheras generally take place immediately after the jaimala in a Marwari wedding.
Ashwahrohan: In this ritual, the bride puts her right foot on a grinding stone. The custom is symbolic of steadfastness and courage. The brother of the bride then puts kheel (puffed rice) into her hands which are then passed to the groom and offered to the holy fire. This ritual symbolizes the brother's happiness and wishes of prosperity for the newlyweds.
Vamang sthapana: During all the performed rites till now, the bride sits on the right side of the groom. In the vamang sthapana ceremony, the groom requests her to change position and shift to his left side. This is symbolic of the fact that the groom accepts his bride and establishes her in his heart (since the heart is on the left side of the body).
Sindurdaan: The vamang sthapana ceremony is followed by the sindurdaan wherein the groom fills the bride's hair parting with sindoor (vermillion). This is highly auspicious.
Saptapadi: Saptapadi refers to the ritual when the bride and the groom walk seven steps together. While walking, they make seven promises to each other. Post this, pherphatta is carried out which signifies that the bride can now freely proceed to her new home. The groom's sister then adorns the bride's hair which is known as sargunthi. This signifies that the bride has been accepted by the groom's family.
Anjhala bharaai: In this ritual, the groom's father puts a bag full of money in the bride's lap. It is his way of welcoming her into the family and also making her aware of the responsibilities. The bride then distributes a part of the money to her sister-in-law and her groom. The couple now gets up from the mandap and takes the blessings of the elders by touching their feet.
Paharavani: The groom is now taken for paharavani wherein he is made to sit on asana (a new cloth) and is welcomed by a tika. He is given gifts in the form of money, clothes and other things for personal use. The female members of the bride's family then involves the groom in the fun-filled shloka kahalai sesstion when he is made to recite poems (dohas). The groom's father is also presented with a silver utensil (kachola).
Bidai: The bride worships the dahleez (threshold) of her paternal home and breaks an earthen lamp (diya) on it. The couple is now escorted out for their farewell. A coconut is placed under the wheel of the car. The bride finally lifts the veil for her husband following which the groom gifts a piece of jewelry to his wife. The newlyweds finally leave for the groom's home.
Bar rukai: This ritual involves the groom's sister when she doesn't allow the newlyweds to enter the house. Only when the groom and the bride together gifts her either in cash or other form, are they allowed to proceed for their grihapravesh.
Grihapravesh: The newlyweds are welcomed inside with a puja. The bride puts on the veil again for all the ceremonies that are to follow.
Pagelagni: The next day, the ritual of pagelagni takes place. The bride, still in veil, is formally introduced to all the family members of the groom who blesses her and presents her with gifts. The veil is then finally removed.