The Gujarati Wedding Ceremony is full of several traditional rituals and customs. The Wedding Ceremonies are vibrant and amusing. The typical wedding affairs take almost half a day. The Wedding ceremony is followed by “Ashirwaad” (blessings) and “Vidai” (farewell). Here is the systematic list of the traditional rituals in a Gujarati Marriage:
This ceremony welcomes the groom whilst still in the car by and unmarried young girl, usually the bride’s sister. She carrier a pot and coconut on her head and welcomes the groom. She applies the “Tilak” (holy red powder) on the groom’s forehead and takes leave only after some money is placed in her pot.
“Saimaiyu” is the welcoming of the groom, his parents relatives and friends by the bride’s parents at the gate of the hall.
“Varmala” is the formal introduction of bride and groom. It involves the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom.
The arrival of the groom and his family is called “Ponkvu”. It is actually the official beginning of the Gujarati wedding. The groom is welcomed by his mother-in-law by “Aarti” (prayer). She also playfully tries to grab his nose at the entrance. This tradition is basically meant for an amusing welcome. However, the quoted reason behind this ceremony is to remind the groom that he has come rubbing his nose at the girl’s door asking for her hand from her parents.
In the “Madhuparka” ceremony, groom’s feet are washed as he represents “Lord Vishnu” under the “Mandap” (canopy) while getting married. Also, he is given honey and milk to drink as a token of love.
“Kanya Agamana” is the beginning of the marriage with the traditional customs and rituals solemnized by a priest. The bride is brought to the “Mandap” (canopy) by her maternal uncle.
“Kanya Daan” is one of the most important wedding rituals. It is a ceremony, in which the bride’s father washes her feet as she represents “Goddess Lakshmi” under the “Mandap” (canopy) while getting married. He then gives her daughter’s hand to the groom in the hope that he will take good care of her.”Kanya daan” is performed in front of the sacred fire representing an eternal source of energy, facilitating the pious union of the boy and girl.
“Hasta Milap” ceremony performed after “Kanya Daan” and has a lot of significance. It involves the tying of the groom’s scarf or shawl to the bride’s sari. The tying of knot and the joined hands of the couple are symbolic of the meeting of two hearts and souls. The priest chants “Mantras” (prayers) and seeks the blessings of “Goddess Lakshmi” and “Parvati” for the couple.
Bride’s brother will be invited to the canopy and will be asked to put some rice in the hands of the couple, who together will walk around the fire four times, symbolising: Substantial Food, Good Health, Wealth & Prosperity, Happiness, Blessings, Progeny and Close Union.
“Mangal Pheras” are rounds that the couple takes around the sacred fire, as the priest chants “mantras” (prayers). In Gujarati marriage, there are four “Mangal pheras”, which represent the following:-
“Dharma” – moral sense to lead a good life
“Artha” – prosperity
“Kama” – energy and passion
“Moksha” – Liberation through self-realization
While this ceremony is going on, the bride’s sisters try to steal the groom’s shoes and vice versa for the bride’s shoe, which is known as “Juta Churai”.
The bride and groom place their right foot on the stone. The groom tells her to be as firm as the stone in his house, so they can face the onslaughts of enemies and difficulties of life together. They have now truly become husband and wife, and the bride changes to sit to the left of the groom, to represent the left part of his body.
The groom and bride touch the seven betel nuts with their right toe, while both of them recite the seven vows for their commitment towards each other. At each step of the “Saptapadi”, the groom asks for support from his bride throughout his life. These steps represent seven principles and promises to each other for a happy and long life.
- Let us provide for our household, stay in good health and carry out our duties and responsibilities to each other, our families and our tradition.
- Let us develop our mental and spiritual powers
- Let us increase our wealth and comfort by righteous and proper means
- Let us acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love, respect and trust
- Let us be blessed with contended family of strong, virtuous and heroic children
- Let us be blessed with long lives
- Let us remain true companions; committed only to each other
The bride feeds the groom and tell him: by feeding this sweet food I shall bind thy heart with the thread of truth, sincerity and love; so my heart be thine and thy heart be mine forever.
Four women, from the brides and grooms side come one at a time to bless the bride. They come with rice grains in their hands, and place it in the brides lap to whisper in the ear the names of four deity couples, to wish a long and happy married life.
- “Bramha Savitri Saubhagya”
- “Vishnu Lakshmi Saubhagya”
- “Shiva Paravati Saubhagya”
- “Indra Indrani Saubhagya”
This ceremony marks the completion of the wedding ceremony. The parents of the bride and groom, family and friends bless the newlywed.