Feb 13, 2009 0

The Gujarati Wedding

The Gujarati culture is deeply rooted in rich customs and traditions. Gujaratis celebrate special occasions with magnificent splendor and gaiety, and a wedding, along with its preceding rituals, are no different. These events are animated, bustling and full of sentiment and camaraderie.

Minal’s Mangalik Prasang

Ganesh Sthapna – Commencement:
Lord Ganesha is always the first deity to be appeased at any significant event. According to Hinduism, his blessings are invoked to deter obstacles and ensure that all goes well.
Mandap Mahurat – Rites for Wedding Canopy:
This ceremony takes place to ask Lord Ganesha to bless and protect the ground upon which the mandap (wedding canopy) will be installed.
Pithi – Beautification:
This ritual involves women of the household applying pithi (a paste of sandalwood powder, herbs, rosewater and perfume) on the bride’s skin.
Graha Shanti – Invoking Peace and Harmony:
A mahurat (auspicious time) is decided by a pandit (priest) to perform a puja (prayer session) for the Graha Shanti. The purpose of this ritual is to bring peace among the stars so the couple can enjoy a happy marriage.
Mameru – Gifts from the Maternal Uncle:
When an Indian woman prepares for marriage, her mama (maternal uncle) gives her a mameru, which consists of her paanetar (wedding sari), choodis (bangles) and other gifts.

Wedding ceremony

Jaan – Procession:
The groom arrives at the wedding venue with his family and friends, a festive entrance usually marked by music and dance.
Var Aagman – Welcoming the Groom:
At the entrance of the venue, the groom seeks the blessings of his bride’s mother, who blesses him and performs a small ritual to ward off the evil eye.
Antarpaat & Jaimala – Exchanging the Garlands:
The bride’s mama (maternal uncle) takes her to the mandap. There, the antarpaat (curtain) separating the bride and groom is lowered, and the couple then put garlands around each other’s necks, an act known as jaimala that is the start of the wedding rites.
Kanyadaan – Giving the Bride Away:
Perhaps the most meaningful of rituals, the Kanyadaan is performed by the pandit in front of the agni (sacred fire). The ceremony reflects the hope of the bride’s parents that their son-in-law will take good care of their daughter. Also, the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet, as they believe he is none other than Lord Vishnu to whom they are handing over his rightful consort, Goddess Lakshmi, in the form of their daughter.
Hasta Milap – Tying the Knot:
The groom’s scarf or shawl is tied to the bride’s sari. This knot and the joined hands of the couple symbolize the union of two souls. The pandit invokes the blessings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The family and relatives present also come together to bless the couple and shower grains of rice and rose petals on them.
Mangal Pheras – Circling the Sacred Fire:
Here, the couple walks around the fire four times as the pandit chants mantras. The four pheras (rounds) represent Dharma (duty), Artha (purpose), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (liberation).
Saptapadi – The Seven Steps:
The bride and groom now take their first steps together as husband and wife. The seven steps are symbolic, and each represents a vow:

  1. Let us nourish each other.
  2. Let us grow in strength.
  3. Let us fulfill our spiritual obligations.
  4. Let us strive for harmony through mutual love and trust.
  5. Let us pray for noble, healthy children and for the welfare of all living entities.
  6. Let us experience joys and sorrows together, as we do the seasons.
  7. Let us strive for understanding, loyalty, unity and companionship for ourselves and for the peace of the universe.
The bride and groom now switch places so that she is on the side closest to her husband’s heart.
Mangalsutra & Sindoor – Symbols of Marriage:
The groom puts a mangalsutra (wedding necklace) around his bride’s neck. He also applies sindoor (red vermillion powder) to the parting line of her hair declaring that she is his wife.
Ashirwad – Shower of Blessings:
After offering his final blessing to the couple, the pandit declares the two husband and wife. The families and guests shower the couple with flower petals, and the ceremony concludes with the newlyweds paying respect to their parents by bowing before them and touching their feet.
Vidai – Departure:
The bride now bids farewell to her parents and home. A small puja is performed outside where a tikka (dot) is applied to the hood of the couple’s car and the bride’s mother breaks a coconut in front of the vehicle, praying for a safe journey home for the couple.

Post-wedding rituals:

Ghar ni Lakshmi – Goddess of the Home:
The bride’s first step into her husband’s home is considered auspicious. She is the ghar ni Lakshmi, the goddess who brings wealth and good fortune to her home. Her mother-in-law places a vessel filled to the brim with rice at the entrance of the house. The bride then knocks down the vessel gently with her right foot, spilling over some of the rice, which is a symbol of wealth.
Aeki-Beki – First Game:
The newlyweds play this game, in which several coins and a ring are placed in a tray of water covered by milk and vermilion. It is believed that the person who finds the ring four times first will be the ruler of the house.