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Marwaris hail from the region of Marwar, modern day Jodhpur region, in south western Rajasthan, India. In modern time, Marwaris comprise of one of the biggest business communities of India. Wealthy and prosperous, weddings in Marwari community are expensive affairs with celebrations spanning for days. Yet Marwari marriages are very traditional when it comes to customs and rituals. They are elaborate and sparkly where display of wealth during a wedding is unmistakable but done in an understated yet ritualistic way. To find out more about the customs involved in Marwari wedding, read on.
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Sagai – Sagai refers to the engagement ceremony in Marwari traditions. The event takes place at the groom’s house. Male members from the bride’s side visit the groom’s family and the bride’s brother applies a kumkum and rice tika on the groom’s forehead indicating the acceptance of the match. Women generally do not take part in the Sagai ceremony. It is also known as Mudha-Tikka ceremony.
Ganapati Sthapana – A couple of days before the wedding, both the bride and the groom’s family observe this ritual where they open the wedding rituals by putting the Idol of Lord Ganesh on a sacred pedestal in a process known as Ganapati Sthapana.
Griha Shanti – Along with Ganapati Sthapana, a puja or havan or holy worshipping ritual is performed at both families’ houses by priests. The rituals aim at appeasing the stars and planetary lords so that they remain harmonious during the course of the completion of the wedding. Offerings are made to the Fire God so that he may carry on the prayers.
Pithi Dastoor – Pithi Dastoor refers to a ceremony akin to the Haldi in other cultures. A paste of turmeric, sandalwood and sometimes besan is applied to both the bride and groom referred to as Pithi. The bride wears traditional yellow or orange dress and sits under a colorful canopy where women of the family including her mother apply the paste on her hands, feet and face. She is then bathed in water sourced by the women from a nearby water body. Traditional wedding songs are sung by women along with beating of the dhol. The whole atmosphere is festive and gay. The same rituals are followed at the groom’s place. After the Pithi Dastoor neither the bride nor the groom is allowed to leave the house till the wedding day.
Mehfil – It refers to the evening festivities observed during the days preceding the wedding. Men and women get together separately and enjoy themselves by performing song and dance routines. The bride is ceremonially ushered in the mehfil and is seated on a special seat. All the celebrations are aimed at making her smile. The groom is the only man who is allowed to participate in the women’s celebrations. Similarly, men arrange their own celebrations where women are strictly not allowed.
Mahira Dastoor – During this ritual, the maternal uncle or mama of both the bride and the groom visit their home and bring with him an array of gifts. The gifts include clothes that the bride and groom are to wear during the wedding, jewelry, fruits and sweets for the whole family. The mother of the bride or groom welcomes her brother and his family and treats him with home-cooked food. The basis of this custom is from the belief that even after marriage, the brother has to help his sister during family functions like weddings where the expenditure is supposedly huge.
Janeu – On the eve of the wedding, a sacred thread is presented to the groom by the priest after he has performed a puja and havan. The groom dresses in a saffron dress during this ceremony. By performing this ritual, he understands and accepts the responsibilities of married life, and is initiated from the Brahmacharya Ashram to the Garhasthya Ashram.
Palla Dastoor – A host of groom’s relative visit the bride’s house carrying gifts of clothes, jewelry, cosmetics and accessories. These include her bridal jewelry and outfit. These articles are displayed in a public area of the house for all the relatives and the friends of the family to see.
The traditional Marwari groom wears either an achkan over which he generally dons a jodhpuri or a sherwani. He wears a churidar pajama with the above-mentioned garments. He wears a turban on his head made of traditional Marwari red bandhini printed cloth. The turban is held together by a traditional jewelry known as Sarpech. He wears a pair of typical Rajasthani jootis on his feet. He also wears necklaces either made of gold, or a string of pearl or even a Jadau piece. He wears a Kamarbandh as well where he may or may not tuck in the Sword that he is supposed to carry. The whole look of a Marwari groom screams royal and regal.
The traditional dress of a Marwari bride is the Lehenga-Choli. Generally Red and similar colors are favored. The Lehengas often contain heavy embroidery work with beads and gold threads. They may sometimes also be embellished with stones and crystals. She pairs her Lehenga Choli with an Odhni which has to be equally heavy and quite opaque as the Marwari bride is to keep her face covered throughout the wedding. She wears a ton of jewelry with her wedding dress adorning almost all body parts. Rakhri is worn on the forehead, Timaniyaan is a diamond-studded choker to be worn around the neck, Choodiare a host of bangles, Bajuband is an armlet often made with gold and stones, Bichhiya are the toe-ring and Nath is the nose ring. She wears a typical jewelry known as Borla on her forehead which is similar to Mangtika. The jewelry are made of gold but most often than not they include elaborate Jadau, Meenakari and Kundan work which is specialty of the Marwar region.
Wedding Day Rituals
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Nikasi – Just before the groom heads out for the wedding venue, an elaborate ritual involving tying of a headgear known as Sehra is practiced. The Sehra is tied around the groom’s head and is either made of flowers or zari danglers or sometimes even with strings of pearls. This covers the groom’s face. The Sehra is traditionally tied by the groom’s brother-in-law, his sister’s husband. His sister-in-law, brothers’s wife, then applies kajal from her eyes on the side of the groom’s face to ward off evil energy. She also ties golden thread on the reins of the mare that the groom is supposed to mount.
Baraat – Baraat refers to the wedding procession accompanying the groom as he sets off for the wedding venue. He rides on a mare and has to carry a sword, a traditional reminder of the royal and military heritage of the region. Only men accompany the groom in the baraat.
Toran – the entrance of the wedding venue is elaborately decorated with Toran. On his way in the groom is supposed to hit it with a stick from a Neem Tree. This helps ward off negative energy.
Baraat Dhukav and Aarti – The groom is met with the welcoming party at the entrance. The mother of the bride performs an elaborate Aarti and feeds him with sweets and water. The groom is then welcomed inside the venue.
Jaimala – The bride is brought into the wedding Mandap. She puts seven suhalis on the head of the groom. Suhali is a type of snack. Following this the bride and the groom exchange garlands.
Granthi Bandhan – The groom’s and the bride’s odhni are connected by tying a knot between them. This signifies the union of two souls.
Kanyadaan – The bride is given over by her father to the groom during the Kanyadaan ceremony. The bride’s father asks the groom cordially whether he is willing to take responsibility of his daughter mentioning his entire geneology. The same ritual is repeated with the bride who also accepts the groom’s family and his surname. The couple pledges to go through life’s challenges together and be each other’s support all their life.
Panigrahan – After the pledges have been made the father of the bride places the hand of the bride on top of the groom’s. The groom accepts the bride’s hands from her father and the Paanigrahan ritual is completed by tying a sacred thread over the unified hands.
Phera – After Paanigrahan, the couple takes the Pheras. Here, the bride and the groom go around the sacred fire seven times. For the first three Phreas, the bride precedes the groom, and during the last four she follows the groom around the fire. They utter the seven sacred vows of marriage while taking the Pheras and this seals their intent to stay together for the rest of their lives.
Ashwarohan – The bride puts her foot on a grinding stone. She has to push the stone forward with her feet seven times. This ritual represents the challenges the bride has to face during her married life and this signifies that she will face them with conviction and determination.
Vamang Sthapana – The brother of the bride gives her handful of puffed rice that the bride and groom together has to offer into the sacred fire. After completion of this ritual, the couple sits with the bride sitting on the left side of the groom indicating her acceptance into her husband’s family.
Saptapadi – The bride and groom then take seven steps together which signifies the beginning of their journey as husband and wife.
Seer-guthi or Sindoor daan – The bride is given a platter containing rice, moong daal, jiggery, cash and sweets. The sister of the groom opens up the bride’s hair parting and applies vermillion to the bride’s hair parting. A nath or nose ring is then brought over by the groom’s mother and placed on the bride’s lap. The nath is expected to be worn by the bride by the end of the havan.
Aanjhala Bharaai – A bag of money is dropped on the bride’s lap by her father-in-law thus welcoming her into the family. This also implies her duties as a daughter-in-law to control the finances of the household with efficiency. The bride then hands over a part of the money to her sister-in-law, the groom’s sister, and another part to her husband.
Paharavani – After completion of all the wedding rituals, the groom is made to sit on a new cloth and a tika is applied on his forehead. The bride’s family members shower him with gifts like clothes, money, and jewelry. A Kachola made of silver, which is a special utensil is gifted to the groom’s father. The bride pays her respects to her paternal home by performing a puja at its threshold and breaking a earthen diya on it.
Bidai – The newlyweds then proceed to leave the bride’s paternal home and leave for the groom’s home. The bride’s family bids her a tearful goodbye. A coconut is placed under the wheel of the car, which is supposed to be crushed once the car starts, bringing good omen for the trip. The bride lifts her veil for the first time in front of her husband and he gifts her a piece of jewelry.
Griha Pravesh – Upon arrival at her husband’s home, the bride receives an elaborate and warm welcome from her mother-in-law who performs an arti before ushering the bride in. The bride is asked to put her right foot over the threshold into a tray containing milk and vermillion solution. She takes five steps with her colored feet and kick over a pot filled with rice and coin symbolizing bringer of fertility and wealth to her husband’s home.
Pagelagni – During this ritual the bride is introduced to the members of the family and extended family. The elders bless the bride and a puja is performed in her honor.
Mooh Dikhai – An elder female member of the groom’s family lifts the bride’s veil and one-by-one they come and bless her, presenting a token gift to her on the occasion.
Chooda – The bride’s mother-in-law presents a set of Lac and Ivory bangles in red and white as a symbol of acceptance. These special bangles are known as Chooda and the bride is to wear them for at least a year taking very good care of them as breaking them is considered bad omen.