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While the Gujarati culture is rife with its rich tradition of special dishes and customs, the Gujarati wedding cannot be much different. It is therefore imperative that the Gujarati people indulge in much fanfare and preparations of delicious food items during their wedding occasions. Besides following some traditional rituals ingrained in their culture, these people believe in a social cultural ceremony during the Gujarati wedding. It is more like two families coming together during the occasion. Due to traditional and orthodox beliefs, many people from Gujarat believe in marriages within their communities. As per the conventions followed in this tradition, the marriage between the man and woman, leads to a Sahdharmacharini bonding or equal partnership. Woman’s role is seen in this culture as more important because she would handle the responsibilities of the household. As it is, the culture and history of Gujarat is a bagful of rich, vibrant and colourful culture. Their disposition of warmth and cheer is derived from their likeness for food and colourful dresses. Since long, when the maharajas ruled over different lands in this culture, there has been a strict following of various festivities and traditions. It is therefore not surprising that the Gujarati wedding is richly dipped in festivities, religious beliefs and followings.
Pre-Wedding Rituals in Gujarati Wedding
This is the initiation of the marriage function, where the pujas are performed in the houses of both bride and groom. Lord Ganesha is worshipped to pray for a smooth conduct of the marriage ceremony. This is held a few days before the actual wedding day.
Griha Shanti Puja
Conducted by priests, this particular puja is held in both the houses of the groom and bride, where good omen is ushered in by the priests into the house. It is also having a meaning of bringing the stars into appeasement, so that the married life of the couples is smooth.
A specialty of Gujarati wedding, the Jaan is an enjoyable moment in the pre-wedding ritual. In this occasion, the to-be-groom goes to the house of the bride and touches the feet of the mother-in-law. Then, she playfully catches the nose of the groom, while he tries to run off. This is a simple feature of the Gujarati wedding, but is a hilarious, as well as respectable event in the ceremony.
Ponkvu marks the beginning of the rituals in actual Gujarati wedding. During this occasion, the groom arrives at the mandap with his relatives. As he is about to enter the mandap or the marriage place, the future mother-in-law pinches his nose, as a mark of the fact that the groom has come begging for the daughter to be married to him. It is a symbolic rubbing of the nose at the house of the bride.
Proper Rituals at the Gujarati Wedding
This is the first of the rituals on the actual wedding day. During Jaimala, the to-be-couple exchange the garlands twice. In the first instance, the groom is at a higher platform that the bride. During the second garlanding, the bride and groom are at the same level. It is meant as a formal introduction between the groom and the bride.
During Madhuparka, the feet of the groom are washed and he is served milk and honey to drink. Such a ritual is done to establish the groom as superior and feel cared. As this ritual goes on, the bride’s sisters are known to steal the groom’s shoes.
It is the formal way of bringing the bride to the mandap, accompanied by her maternal uncle, amidst chants and in front of the sacred fire. At this point, there is a thin cloth between the bride and groom, which is known as antarpat. As the marriage chanting is started, the antarpat is removed and the exchanging of garlands is done again.
This is one of the best parts of the Gujarati wedding where the father of the bride gives his daughter’s hands into the hands of the groom in front of the sacred fire. It is done after washing the feet of the groom requesting him to take good care of his daughter.
Done after the Kanya Daan ceremony, the hasta milap is a ritual in Gujarati wedding, where the groom’s shawl or scarf is tied with the bride’s sari. The hands of both are tied together and the priest chants mantras. Relatives of both the families then bless the couple by throwing rose petals and rice over them.
Mangal Pheras in Gujarati wedding is a special and yet different ritual from other sects. In this ritual, the bride and groom go around the sacred fire, four times instead of the usual seven. These four circles represent aartha, karma, dharma and moksha.
Saptapadi is also a bit different in Gujarati wedding, where the groom helps the bride touch seven betel leaves and betel nuts with her right toe, while seven vows are repeated. At each touch, the groom seeks support from the bride in his life.
Some of the post wedding rituals in Gujarati wedding are special, both in their timing and their conduct.
Reception ceremony is conducted immediately after the wedding is over. In this occasion, the guests are served sumptuous dinner, while they bestow blessings and gifts to the newlywed couple.
Like in many wedding ceremonies, the bride is bid farewell by her family members and this is a sad moment in the entire wedding ceremony.
Ghar Ni Lakshmi
When the bride reaches the house of the groom, she has to topple a vessel with rice using her right foot. This vessel is kept at the point of entry into the house. It represents that the bride is now the goddess Laxmi of the house.
In the groom’s house, after the arrival of the bride, Aeki Beki is a fun filled affair. It is a kind of wedding game between the couples. This ritual in Gujarati wedding is undertaken with a vessel, which is coloured with sindoor and filled with milk. A ring and few coins are dropped into it and the bride and groom are required to find the ring and coins. This occasion is marked by lots of clapping, hooting and boosting, with all family members friends and relatives of the groom’s family present on the occasion.
From the various pre-wedding and post wedding ceremonies, it is clear that the Gujarati wedding can be like most of the other wedding ceremonies in India. It has a few special occasions and rituals, but in the whole, every occasion is solemnised with strict discipline and blessings from the elders.