Traditional Gujarati Wedding
Gujarat is known for its culture and mouth-watering vegetarian delicacies. Gujaratis celebrate a wedding no less than a festival. There are no dull moments in the two or three-day affair of a Traditional Gujarati wedding.
Gujaratis observe various rituals each day. These are as follows:
After fixing the marriage, the bride’s father, along with four other male family members visit the groom’s family. This is the first ritual of a typical Traditional Gujarati wedding. He applies Chandlo at the centre of the groom’s forehead. Chandlo is a red circle made of vermillion. The bride’s family offer their blessings and Shagun to the groom. Shagun is a token of love, warmth and acceptance.
Gol Dhana is Coriander seeds and Jaggery. Is this ceremony, the bride’s family visit the groom’s family and present various gifts like sweets, savouries and other eatables. They offer these gifts in containers called Matlis.
This ceremony is equivalent to engagement ceremonies in other cultures. The couple exchange rings. Five older women from both the bride’s and groom’s side shower the couple with blessings for a happy married life.
Both the families feast on classic Gujarati dishes.
A priest performs a Puja at the bride’s and groom’s houses separately. He prays to Lord Ganesha to seek his blessings for removing all difficulties from the couples lives before their union.
A priest also performs this Puja. He analyses the bride’s and groom’s horoscopes. Then, he addresses the obstacles presented by planetary positions as per astrology. The priest then prays to the gods to remove any difficulty that the couple-to-be might have to face.
Women apply henna on the bride’s arms and legs by making intricate and beautiful patterns. Other women also dye their hands with henna and sing songs. This ceremony takes place two days before the wedding day.
Sanji or Sangeet Sandhya
Sanji takes place a day before the wedding, and both the families come together for the celebration. They sing songs and perform traditional Gujarati dances like Dandiya and Garba. The fun-filled and calm ambience allows both the families to get to know each other well.
This ceremony takes place separately at both the bride’s and groom’s homes just before the day of the wedding. The couple-to-be sit on a Bajat or low stool. Their respective paternal uncle’s wife or Kaki applies a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, herbs, rosewater and mogra perfume to their visible body parts. The bride and groom then bathe with water.
Mameru or Mosalu
The groom’s maternal uncle is called Mama, and his maternal aunt’s husband is called Mousa. The two men visit the bride’s house with gifts. These gifts present in beautiful boxes include Panetaar Saree, Chooda Bangles, Jewellery, dry fruits and sweets. This tradition takes place a day before the wedding.
The groom visits his mother-in-law and touched her feet to seek blessings to ward off evil.
Gujarati brides wear a traditional Panetaar or Gharchola saree on the wedding day. The panetaar sarees are heavy with embellished zari and stones. They are made of Gajji sild and are white with red borders. Gharchola is also made of silk and is red or maroon. The groom’s side gifts it to the bride as a symbol of acceptance. It is heavy because of zari work and stone embellishment. Gujaratis drape the Pallu of the saree in front in a fanned-out manner. The brides also wear many jewellery pieces like Gala no Har, Nathni, Kan Ni Butti, Bajubandh etc.
The groom wears Dhoti-Kurta or Sherwani. Gujarati groom always wears colourful dupatta with bandhani work around their neck. They also wear a matching turban embellished with precious stones.
Traditional Gujarati Wedding Day Rituals
The groom gets on a horse to travel to the bride’s horse. His relatives and friends walk along his side while dancing to the tunes played by a band.
When the groom arrives, the bride’s family welcomes him and his family very warmly. Bride’s mother performs an Aarti, applies tika on his forehead and pulls his nose as a part of a fun tradition.
This is the first formal meeting between the bride and groom. They exchange garlands twice. The groom first stands on the higher ground like a stool, and then on the same level as the bride.
The bride’s mother leads the groom to the Mandap. His feet are washed using milk and water, and he is offered Panchamrut. Panchamrut comprises of five pure ingredients- milk, ghee, sugar, honey and yoghurt.
The groom needs to remove his shoes he enters the Mandap. Bride’s sisters and female cousins try to steal the shoes worn by the groom while he drinks the Panchamrut.
Bride’s maternal uncle leads her to the Mandap. An opaque cloth placed between the bride and groom prevents the couple from seeing each other.
The bride’s father washes the groom’s feet. He then hands over his daughter to the groom and blesses the couple. He asks the groom to take care of his princess.
The priest ties the groom’s dupatta or shawl with the bride’s saree while chanting sacred mantras. He also asks the couple to hold hands. This is known as Hasta Milap.
Human life has four goals- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The bride and groom stand up and circle the sacred fire four times, once for each goal. The priest chants mantras from the holy scriptures and asks the couple to repeat the verses after him.
Seven betel nuts are placed in a straight line at regular intervals along the side of the bride’s right toe. She has to touch the seven nuts, and the groom helps her while the couple recites the sacred vows.
The groom put vermillion on the bride’s forehead between her hair parting. He also ties a Mangalsutra around her neck.
At the end of the ceremony, the couple feeds each other some traditional sweets.
Post- Wedding Rituals
Seven married women bless the couple and chant the words’ Akhand Saubhagyavati Bhava’ while blessing the bride. These words mean that may the bride’s married glory last forever.
It is a fun ritual in which the groom tugs the saree of his mother-in-law. It is a way of asking for gifts from the bride’s family.
Elders of both the families shower their blessing on the newly married couple.
Reception is a fun-filled event. Both families come together to celebrate the union of their children. They sing, dance and feast on delicious Gujarati food.
The bride bids goodbye to her family and leaves with her husband to start this new chapter of her life.
Ghar nu Laxmi
The groom’s family welcomes the new bride. She is considered as Ghar nu Laxmi or an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi. She is the bearer of good luck and fortune for her new family. Her mother-in-law performs an Aarti and welcomes her daughter-in-law. The bride knocks down a vessel filled with rice and enters her new home.
It is a game that the newlywed couple play. Multiple coins and a ring are placed in a tray filled with water and milk and covered by vermillion. The couple tries to find the ring. Whoever succeeds in finding the ring four times before the other is believed to be in control of the family.
This is how a typical traditional Gujarati wedding takes place. In addition, read about traditional weddings from other parts of the country here.