Sindhi people are basically Sanatani Hindus, who do not follow Hindu rites strictly. However, Sindhi marriage is conducted in accordance with the Vedic rites. Sindhi weddings reflect a blend of Hinduism and Sufism. Usually the weddings take place on the auspicious days like Satyanarayan Chandsi or the new moon day.
We at Cheers Events, have done quite a good number of Sindhi weddings in recent years and that gave us great insight into their customs & traditions and different kind of events which are done at such high magnitude and are set on a highly enthusiastic and lavish scale.
Like Hindu weddings, Sindhis also observe a number of pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding rituals a brief about which is given below:
Pre – Wedding Rituals
Janya: Janya refers to the sacred thread ceremony where the groom wears a yellow thread and a guru mantra is whispered in his ear by the priest, or the Mehraj as he is generally known in the Sindhi community. Though it is supposed to be conducted in adolescence, most Sindhi men prefer to have this done a day or two before the wedding. A marriage is considered incomplete if the groom has not had the thread ceremony.
Kachchi Misri: The Kachchi Misri refers to the informal engagement between the groom and the bride, where they are given coconuts and mishri as a symbolic acceptance that she/he is the one who belongs to the other family. On this day, shaguns (token gifts) are exchanged by the groom and the bride’s families. Generally, the shagun consists of five types of fruits and kharchi (money) for the bride and groom. Additionally, the girl’s family sends five kilos of mithai (sweets), five coconuts, a basket of fruit, some kada prasad, and a small token amount of money to the boy’s family. On this day, suji sheera is cooked that is later served as prasad. During the main ceremony, the boy’s sister covers the girl’s head with a red-coloured duppata and feeds the suji sheera to her future sister-in-law. This is followed by other relatives feeding suji sheera to the prospective bride.
Pakki Mishri: This refers to the formal engagement ceremony where rings are exchanged between the couple either in a temple or home, but in the presence of the priest. First Ganesh Puja is conducted, which is followed by an Ardas. The groom’s family places a basket full of fruits, clothes, cosmetics or ornaments on the girl’s lap to signify that she has been accepted and to wish her happiness. Then the groom’s sister and sister-in-law put on the girl’s makeup with the new cosmetics that have been specially brought by them. Similarly the girl’s family also brings five kilos of misri in a clay pot that is opened by the boy’s mother. Afterwards, seven married ladies use red powder to make a Ganesha sign on the pot as a way of requesting Lord Ganesh to bless the couple. The ritual of Varmala takes place as the prospective husband and wife exchange garlands while the groom’s family gives a verbal promise of marriage and feeds misri to the girl’s family to confirm the engagement
Berana: Berana refers to a satsang that is held in the name of the Sindhi God, Jhulelal. It signifies the start of the ceremonies for the forthcoming wedding and is usually organized ten days before the wedding.
Dev Bithana: Dev Bithani refers to the installation of a totemic deity of chakki (stone grinder) in the homes of both the bride and the groom during which a Brahmin priest perform a ritual called Banwa. Tilak is applied to the chakki by the family members. After this ceremony, which is usually conducted five-six days before the marriage, the couple is not encouraged to leave their homes and ainars (marriage guards) are appointed for them who are generally their brother – in- laws.
Lada: This ceremony involves the groom’s family inviting all the women in the neighborhood to for a night of fun and merriment where they all sing and the traditional wedding songs to the accompaniment of dholak beats.
Tih: The ceremony of Tih is conducted a day before the marriage where a priest, sent over by the girl’s family and carrying a small bag of rice, a coconut, nine dates, 21 sweet nibatas, which are bars of sugar candy one to two inches in size, sugar, cardamom, cloves and a skein of green silk yarn with him, conducts puja along with the groom to pay obeisance to Lord Ganesha and all the planets. He also ratifies and sanctifies the time of the lagna by chanting some holy verses.
Saanth/Wanwas: Conducted separately in the homes of the bride and he groom a day before the wedding, the Saanth ritual involves a puja performed by a Brahmin priest who ties a a challa or anklet around the right foot of the groom/bride. Later seven married women pour oil in the center of the head of the groom/bride after which they are supposed to wear a new shoe on their right foot and try to break an earthern lamp with it. If the groom/bride succeeds, it is a good omen. The ceremony finally comes to an end with their respective families tearing off their clothes as a symbol of bringing in the new and warding off evil.
Mehndi: The mehndi night is an occasion for party and merriment where the ladies of the bride’s house sit together and beautify the bride. Professional mehendi artists are called who apply intricate designs in henna on the hands of the bride and other female members. Sounds of music and dancing fill the air.
Sangeet party: It is like a like a bachelor-cum-maiden party that is usually celebrated after the mehendi night. Professional entertainers are called to regale the guests with great music and dance. It is generally followed by cocktail and dinner.
Saagri: This ritual involves showering the bride with flowers as a form of blessing. The groom’s family members- usually married sisters, cousins and small children go to the bride’s house with jewellery made of mogra and adorn the would-be-bride with them who wears a silk saree. The purpose of the ceremony is so that the bride and her new family get acquainted. In the night, the groom visits the bride’s house, where he is showered with garlands.
Ghari Puja: This puja, quite a long procedure, is supposed to be held simultaneously at the respective homes of the bride and the groom. During the Ghari puja, a prayer is conducted by the priest who uses rice, coconut, wheat grains, oil, betel nuts, turmeric, and a number of other spices. Simultaneously, the married women of the house grind wheat that is a symbol that the home will always remain prosperous. The mothers of both the bride and the groom dress up and carry a clay pot full of water outside the house assisted by her son-in-law. The role of the son- in- law is that of an ainar who is supposed to protect his mother- in-law. After the clay pot is brought back in the house, everyone offers garlands to the parents of the bride/groom while the clay pot is placed in the place of worship. The son-in-law, or ghor as he is now addressed, gives money to the priest after circling it around the pot of water and the bride or the groom. For the bukhi, five kilos of wheat is brought, which the bride and groom (separately in each home) cup in their hands and offer to the pujari 21 times each. The entire quantity of wheat should be finished within the stipulated 21 actions.
Navgrahi Puja: The Navgrahi puja refers to the worship of Ganesha Puja, Omkar Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kalash Puja followed by the nine planets. The gods are welcomed as guests in the houses of the couple; they are offered milk, food, water, and light. Performed on the morning of the day before the marriage, this Sindhi ritual requires the presence of the maternal uncle, paternal uncle and brother of the bride. And these pujas can only be conducted in the girl’s house after the navgrahi puja gets over at the groom’s house.
Haldi ceremony: A ritual followed by both the bride and the groom, this involves the family members pouring oil and haldi all over the groom’s/bride’s bodies and hair as a form of purification. After the ceremony, the couple cannot leave the house.
Garo Dhago: A red thread is tied on wrist of the bride/groom, their parents and all the family relatives would take part in the wedding ceremony later on.
Preparing the groom: A ribbon is tied to the groom’s hair by the priest to protect him from the evil eye. Then a red cloth is placed around his neck that contains a coconut tied to an end. Another white cloth is also placed whose one end is tied up in a bundle comprising of with karchi (lucky money), rice, and elachi. Afterwards, the bride’s brother and other female relative go to the groom’ s house to accost him and his family to the wedding venue.
Baraat: The groom is placed on the horse and a sehra is tied to his forehead. The groom’s mother holds a lamp lit for the household deity, makes oblations of grain to the crown worn by the groom. Then they set forth for the marriage venue along with a band of musicians.
Swaagat: Swaagat refers to the welcome accorded by the bride’s family to the wedding entourage. As the barrat is being received, the bride gazes at the groom’s turnab form a window of the house but is careful not to look at his face. The women in the barat entourage are welcomed by vermilion. The bride comes out to receive the groom where he places his foot on hers to denote his dominating strength in their future life together
Paon Dhulai: The bride’s brother conducts the ritual of washing the feet of the bride and the groom. It is believed that due to all the prayers that have preceded this moment, the groom is an embodiment of Lord Vishnu on this wedding day. The couple is then seated with a screen between them so that they cannot see each other. Their feet are then washed in a bronze thaali with raw milk. The priest then measures the feet of both the groom and the bride with a thread kept by the bride.
After the Pao Dhulai ritual is over, the couples face each other and exchange garlands. Then the white cloth that was placed around the groom’s neck is put around the bride’s while being tied to the groom’s red cloth. Simultaneously their right hands are tied together with a sacred thread as the couple prays to God for lifelong happiness and strength. As the holy fire is ignited, the priests starts chanting a series of holy verses prayers taken from the Holy Scriptures to God. It includes prayers to Lord Ganesh, Laxmi, and the 64 devis to bless the couple. Then the couple walks around the fire. A Sindhi wedding involves only four pheras. After the pheras are over, kanyadan is performed by the bride’s parents, which is denoted through the holy water flowing from the parents’ hands into the groom’s hands through the bride’s. The last of the Sindhi wedding rituals, Saptapadi is performed when the couple places their right foot on seven small piles of rice. Afterwards, they touch the feet of the elders to seek their blessings.
Post Wedding Rituals
Vidai: After the wedding, the bride and the groom are entrusted to the care of the bride’s brothers, and the baraat leaves for the groom’s house. Gifts are given at the time of Vidai by the bride’s father. The newlyweds arrive separately by different routes. As they approach the house, drums are beaten to announce their arrival. The women of the house receive them.
Datar: The rinsing of the bride’s feet at the threshold of her new home by the groom’s parents is the beginning of the Datar ritual. Then the new bride enters the house and sprinkles milk in all corners of the house, following which she places a handful of salt in her husband’s hand. He passes it back into her hands without spilling any salt. This ritual of Datar is done three times and then the bride repeats this ritual with all the other present family members.
Chhanar/ Dev Uthana: The ritual of Chhanar involves the removal of the chakki that was instated during the Dev Bithana ritual before the wedding. Conducted a day after marriage, in this the couple pray before the household Gods after which they are fed feeds seven mouthfuls of rice, sugar, and milk.
Reception/ Sataurah: The boy’s family holds a reception on the evening following the wedding. Some families tend to have the reception and the wedding on the same day. Traditionally, after a short visit by the bride’s father to her in-laws’ house, the couple, at an auspicious time fixed by the priest, pays a visit to the paternal home of the bride.