Gujarati wedding is a ceremonial concept like any other Indian marriages. It is inexorably a storehouse of assorted fun-filled rituals and many a religious occasion. We being from Surat – Gujarat itself have done a lot of Gujarati weddings and are well versed with all the customs & Traditions that takes place in Gujarati Weddings. For those who don’t know much about Gujarati Weddings, given below is a brief about it for better understanding.
Gujaratis make matches for their daughters and sons within their own communities. Like most of the other Indian communities the father of the girl searches for his daughter’s mate as soon as she grows up. Gujaratis prefer that the boy and girl see each other and take the decision of marrying or not marrying.
A number of pre-wedding rituals take place in a Gujarati wedding.
Mandap Mahurat: This ceremony takes place at the beginning of most prosperous events to get blessings of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu God who is believed to remove all impediments. The families of the bride and the groom perform this ceremony in their homes a few days before the wedding.
Griha Shanti: This is a vital puja and is done at the bride’s and the groom’s home individually. This is an auspicious time after matching the horoscopes of the soon-to-be bride and groom. The puja for Griha Shanti is done by a hindu priest with the family members and relatives of the bride’s father taking part in the rituals.
Jaan: This is an interesting ritual, which involves the groom arriving at the house of the bride to seek the blessing of his mother-in-law. According to the custom, the groom must bow his head and his mother-in-law holds his nose. This gesticulation symbolizes his humbleness and understanding of the great sacrifice that his future wife is about to make. The groom’s prospective mother-in-law blesses him and performs a small ritual to avert the evil eye.
A number of inimitable and colourful rituals make Gujarati wedding different from other Indian weddings.
Antarpaat: The bride’s maternal uncle (mama) carries the bride to the canopy (mandap). There is a curtain known as Antarpaat, which separates the bride and groom. When it is lowered the couple garland each other.
Madhuparka: Madhuparka is to be done after the Jaimala ceremony. The ritual includes washing of the groom’s feet while sitting under the Mandap. He is then offered milk and honey. Following this is the most interesting custom, which most of the Indian weddings follow – the hiding of the groom’s shoes by his sister-in-law. The groom has to get back his shoes at the end of the day and for this he has to offer them a sum of money, which is agreeable to them.
Hasta Milap: Here, the groom’s shawl is tied to the bride’s sari. The knot and the joined hands of the couple signify the togetherness of two souls joined together in holy matrimony. The priest chants mantras to summon the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Parvati for the saubhagyavrata or wife. The family and relatives also come together to consecrate the couple and shower grains of rice and rose petals on them.
Kanya Daan: The wedding rituals are performed in front of a holy fire and conducted by the acharya. It is believed that fire intakes all bad evils. The rituals begin with the kanya daan where in the bride is given away by her parents. As a ritual, bride’s parents desist from eating to make themselves pure in body and mind for the occasion. Their folded hands during Kanya daan ceremony reflect the hope that their son-in-law will take good care of their daughter and never cause her pain. They wash his feet, as per the believe that he is none other than the Lord Vishnu, to whom they are handing over his rightful companion, the Goddess Laxmi in the form of their daughter.
Pheras: The couple goes around the sacred fire as the priest recites mantras. The groom also does the same, which express his heart’s desire, and seeks the loving support of his wife.
Saptapadi: The Saptapadi (seven-steps) is another important ritual of the Gujarati wedding ceremony. The couple must go around the sacred fire seven times. The groom chants mantras with each step. These are wishes to his wife take good care of the house, cook nourishing and healthy food for their family, be frugal with money, be an sympathetic and partisan partner to him, etc. The bride promises to fulfil these requests.
“Saubhagyavati Bhava” and the “Vidaai” embrace are post wedding rituals of a Gujarati wedding. The elderly married women of the girl’s family whisper “Aashirwaad”, blessings into the right ear of the bride. While the Vidaai ceremony has the girl leaving for the groom’s house in an especially decorated car with flowers. The ceremony marks the beginning of a new life for the new couple.
Reception: The reception is usually held soon after the wedding. It is an opportunity for relatives; friends and well-wishers to bless the newly wedded bride and groom, then enjoy a opulent meal with them and give them gifts.
Ghar Nu Laxmi: The first step of the bride into her new home is considered lucky. She is referred as the “ghar nu laxmi” or the Goddess Lakshmi who will bring wealth and good fortune to her home. The mother-in-law places a vessel full of rice, at the entrance of the house. The bride must knock the vessel down gently with her right foot, spilling some of the rice over. The rice is a symbol of prosperity and by following the ritual she express her full understanding of her duties and responsibilities towards her new home.
Aeki-Beki: It is a ritual, kind of a game though for the newly wed couple. It is played at the groom’s place in front of relatives. In this, several coins and a ring are placed in a tray of water mixed with milk and vermilion. It is believed that the person, who finds the ring, first, would be the ruler of the house.