In the beautiful valleys of Kashmir, wedding is the celebration of tradition and beauty. Kashmiri wedding are a thing to behold, with the bride and groom resplendent in tasteful traditional dresses and oodles of glittering gold jewelry. From rituals to décor to food, Kashmiris take pride in their traditions. Starting from elaborate pre-wedding functions from customary post-wedding rituals, Kashmiri weddings are spaced through several days. Colorful and full of smiles, traditional Kashmiri songs and dances are integral part of the celebration.Let us take a peek at the most important wedding rituals of a typical Kashmiri wedding.
Kasamdry– This ritual refers to the formal engagement ceremony according to Kashmiri customs. Once the horoscopes have been matched and the families have agreed to the alliance. The priest consults the Kashmiri Hindu calendar and proclaims a date for the two families to meet. The families congregate at a temple and exchange flowers as an omen of cordiality as well as celebration. They offer puja at the temple together and the bride’s family treats the invitees with a traditional Kashmiri vegetarian meal. The aunt of both bride and groom prepares a traditional rice pudding known as Var that is to be distributed among family and friends. During the following days, the bride’s family sends gifts of fruits, cash and dry fruits along with a pot of nabad or lumps of sugar to the groom’s house.
Livun– Livun refers to the ceremonial cleaning of the house in both the bride and groom’s families. The Livun ceremony is celebrated separately at the bride’s and the groom’s places. An auspicious day before the wedding is determined by the pundit and all the hitched females of the family come together to pitch in. Traditionally, Kashmiri mud houses were cleaned, washed and a mixture of mud was applied to beautify the floors. Gifts and Var are distributed among friends and family as a manifestation of appreciation. The family cook or the waza arrives on this day and prepares a wuvi which is a brick-and-mud oven in the backyard. All the wedding feasts are to be cooked in the wuvi.
Krool Khanun – The Krool Khanun ritual refers to decking up the house in loads and loads of floral arrangements. The whole effect is very colorful and gives the house a truly festive feel.
Wanvun – Every evening following the Livun right till the day before the wedding ceremony, guests arrive in the evening to both the bride and the groom’s places and stir up great revelry through songs and dance sessions. Traditional Kashmiri folk songs and wedding ballads are sung by the ladies and the guests are served with the customary drink of Noon or Sheer Chai which is a kind of salted pink tea.
Maenziraat – On the day before the wedding, an embellished bathing ritual takes place at the bride’s place. The bride’s hands and feet are washed by her maternal aunt. After the bath, the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with Maenz or henna paste in elaborate and intricate designs. Other members of the family also apply henna designs to their hands and feet. The women are then served with a delicious meal prepared by the Waza. Mehendi is also observed at the groom’s place but at a smaller scale.
51 Thaal – In the days preceding the wedding, the bride’s family is to send a total of 51 platters or thaals containing fruits, dry fruits, sweets and other food item to the groom’s place.
Phoolon Ka Gehna and Snazaroo – During this ritual the groom’s family sends the bride beautiful jewelry made of flowers which she is to wear on the morning of her wedding. They also send her cosmetics, a makeup box, sindoor, mirror and a betel leaf covered in gold or silver foil. This is known as Snazaroo.
Kanishran – A vital part of the Divagone ceremony is the Kanishran ritual. The bride/groom is bathed with a mixture of water, milk, curd and rice. Flowers are showered during the ritualistic bathing. Following the bath the bride/groom changes into new clothes. The bride’s parents gift her jewelry, clothes, utensils and other household items.
Devagon – This ritual marks the bride and groom’s transition from Brahmacharya Ashram to the Garhasthya Ashram. They offer prayers Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, but separately in their respective houses. The bride and groom observe a fast before the puja. The priest lights the sacred fire and conducts the ceremony following strict Vedic rituals. Bride’s gold ornaments and utensils given to her by her family are placed in front of the fire and are sanctified during the ceremony.
Duribat– On the same day as Devgon, the maternal relatives of groom and bride are invited at lunch by both the families at their respective houses. Traditionally, they are welcomed with a drink of milk, followed by Khawa. Next they are served a traditional Kashmiri vegetarian lunch with items like Dum Allo, Yakhni, Nadroo etc.
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The traditional dress worn by the Kashmiri groom is known as Pheran which are long sleeved kurta-like attire. The Pheran is tied at the waist with a waistband called louing and is made of pashmina that is embroidered with golden threads called zarbaf. A turban called Gordstar is tied on the groom’s head by one of the male relatives. They are supposed to wear a typical shoe of the region known as Paazar. He also wears jewelry especially a necklace made of gold, pearls or precious stones around his neck. The final effect is quite regal and elegant.
Kashmiri bridal outfits are colorful, glamorous and quite glitzy. Traditionally, the bride wears a glamorous variant of the Pheran which resembles a salwar kameez with the addition of a veil. Popular colors include red, maroon and shades of rust or orange. The salwar kameez is heavily embellished with intricate zari work mixed with traditional Kashmiri threadwork. The bride wears an elaborate headgear known as Tarang. It consists of a Kalpush, which is quite long but is folded three or four times. A white cloth known as zoojhis wrapped over the Kalpush in three or four layer. A glace paper is stitched on top of the zoojh. A dupatta matching the salwar kameez is worn over the Tarang to complete the bridal look.
She wears a lot of jewelry as well. Heavy necklaces are worn by Kashmiri bride along with ornamental bangles and payals. A special ornament known as Dejharoo is worn by the Kashmiri bride. It is a pair of gold pendant adorned with precious stones connected to a gold chain that is strung through the ear piercing. This Dejharoo is akin to a Mangalsutra in other Indian cultures. The bride also wears an elaborate waistband around her waist.
Wedding Day Rituals
Departure of the Groom – As the groom is getting ready, a female member of the family touches a plate containing rice and some money to the groom’s left shoulder. The groom mounts a mare, carries a sword and heads towards the bride’s house along with some male members of the family.
Welcoming of the Groom – The groom is welcomed at the bride’s house. The fathers of the bride and the groom exchange nutmeg which symbolizes acceptance of this relationship and hope that it lasts long. Conches are blown to herald the groom’s stepping into the house.
Lagan – The Kashmiri wedding ceremony is known as lagan. It follows all the normal vedic rituals. The priest performs a Mandap puja followed by the Dwar puja before ushering in the groom. The bride is carried to the wedding mandap by her maternal uncle. The heads of the bride and groom are covered and a large mirror is inserted under the coverings. The couple sees each other for the first time in the reflection of the single large mirror. The father of the bride places her hand over the groom’s hands signifying him giving away his daughter to the groom, who in turn accepts this responsibility. For the rest of the ceremony, the groom is to keep a tight hold of the bride’s hands. The hands are covered in a special cloth known as Athwas. A golden thread (Mananmal) is tied to their foreheads.The sacred fire is lighted by the priest and the bride and groom take seven Pheras around the fire. This is followed by the Saptapadi where the couple takes seven symbolic steps with each other while proclaiming the seven marriage vows. This is the symbolic beginning of their journey together.
Posh puza – At the end of these rituals, the bride and the groom sit comfortably and a red cloth is placed over their heads. Friends and family gather around the couple and offer flowers or posh to the couple while Vedic mantras are being recited by the priest. First the mantras are directed towards the bride, followed by mantras directed towards the groom and finally they are directed towards the couple as one. By doing this they worship the couple and this rituals is thus name Posh Puza or worshipping with flowers. In Kashmiri traditions, the bride and the groom are representatives of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati.
Fun and Games - Following the completion of the wedding, the newlywed couple is engaged by the bride’s family in some post-wedding fun and games like finding of the ring from a pot of rice.
Vidaai– Before departure, the newlyweds are made to stand on the Vyoog or a wooden pedestal and the eldest female member of the bride’s family offers them nabad or rice thrice and kisses them on the forehead. The bride then bids tearful goodbye to her family. She throws handful of raw rice over her shoulder in the direction of the house praying that her paternal home may prosper always. In the other hand she carries some more raw rice to be scattered over the doorstep of her husband’s home.
Welcoming of the bride – The bride is given a warm welcome at her in-laws house. The couple is fed some nabad. The Manamal tied on their heads are exchanged. A couple of pigeon is released into the air in honor of the couple.
Saatraat – The newly-wed couple visits her parent’s house accompanied by one or mod kids. Here the couple is treated to a lavish meal and presented with new clothes which they have to wear before returning to the groom’s house.
Phirlath – During the Phirlath ritual, the bride’s parents visit the groom’s house and give the newlywed couple some more gifts. They are invited for a meal by their in-laws.
Roth Khabar – This ritual is observed on either a Saturday or a Tuesday following the wedding. The bride’s parents send a cake decorated with nuts to the groom’s house that is one meter long and two and an half meter wide. The bride goes back to her parent’s house accompanied by the person who brought in the cakes. The groom’s family sends somebody to the bride’s paternal house to bring her back.
Ghar Atchum – This is the formal reception held by the bride’s family in honor of the wedding. All meals prepared during the wedding rituals are strictly vegetarian but during the reception non-vegetarian dishes are served to the guests. This reception concludes the wedding celebrations.