Hello from IWA Team,
Today, we’ll discuss events in Maharashtrian Wedding and Pre-Wedding Program.
Wedding and Post-wedding rituals
Shubh Mangal Savdhaan
A set of 43 rituals are performed to herald the wedding day. This is a very important ceremony. These days, not everybody goes through all the 43 rituals, and some are often omitted. Earlier, no marriage was solemnized without going through each of the elaborate rituals.
No ceremony can begin without seeking the blessings of Lord Ganapati, the pot-bellied elephant-headed God that Maharashtrians are so fond of. Friends and family members offer him a handful of uncooked rice and a betel nut and request him to bless the occasion and free it from any impediments. The seven mother goddesses or the Matrus are also worshipped ; this ritual is known as Matruka Pujana and Punyavachana.
This is the haldi ceremony, common in most Hindu weddings. The groom is anointed with a mixture of turmeric and scented oil by his sisters, mother and female relatives. A lively ritual, the application of turmeric is accompanied with songs and music. The residual mixture known as ushti halad, is sent to the bride along with a new sari and items of worship. While the ceremony is repeated at the bride’s place, a betel nut and a handful of rice is placed on her lap.
This boundary worship ritual was traditionally done when the groom walked into the bride’s village. These days, Seemant Pooja is done on the wedding day. A ritual known as Seemaan Pooja is performed when the family of the groom walks into the bride’s home. The boy’s feet are washed by the female relatives of the bride, and he is seated on a decorated square stool or chaurang. The bride’s parents bestow him with gifts such as gold chain, watch, ring, and silver utensils. The same ritual is performed with the groom’s mother and she is presented with a sari and other gifts. Other female relatives are given gifts on this occasion too.
Varaprasthana or the Baraat
This is the marriage procession that leaves for the bride’s place. Female relatives of the latter greet the groom with a lighted lamp and he is invited into the wedding hall, where he is seated on a chourang or a low stool.
This is a ceremonial breakfast party hosted by the bride’s parents in honor of the groom’s family. The food is delicious, and the lavish spread consists of sweet and savory items. This is a sneak peek into the hospitality that the groom’s family can expect to enjoy all through the wedding.
In another room, the bride performs the Gaurihar Pooja of the Goddess. The idol of the Devi is placed on the bride’s wedding chourang. For the ritual, the bride wears a yellow sari, green glass bangles, jewelry, and a Mundavala. The latter is a pearl or floral tiara, encircling the head with loose strings hanging on the sides of the face. Here is a Maharashtrian bride and groom.
The groom stands facing the east and an antarpat, a silk waist-cloth with a swastika mark, is held in front of him. Then, the bride, adorned in a beautiful wedding sari, flowers and jewelry, is brought to the wedding altar by her maternal uncle, amidst chanting of shlokas by pundits. She stands opposite the groom with the antarpat (a piece of cloth) between them, and both of them have garlands in their hands. Here is a picture of a doll dressed like a Maharashtrian bride.
At the auspicious moment, the cloth is drawn towards the north, and the musicians begin playing their instruments. Guests shower the couple with akshata or colored rice. The bride places the garland around the groom’s neck, gifts him a posy of flowers and seeks his blessings by touching his feet. Next, the groom garlands the bride.
Five suvasinis or married women from both the families perform an aarti for the couple. Mangalashtakas are eight stanzas of prayer to Gods, seeking blessings for the newly-wedded couple. After every paragraph, the pundit tells the couple about their new responsibilities as husband and wife.
This is a supreme donation, where the parents of the bride give her away to the groom and his family, after assuring themselves that their daughter will be taken care of by her new husband. In this emotional ceremony, the bride’s father instructs the groom not to be false to the bride in artha, dharma and karma, and the groom gives his word.
The sacred fire is ignited and the bride offers lahayas or parched grain thrice, while the groom chants mantras. The fourth time, the bride offers the grain silently. Then, with the earth, fire, gods and the priest as witness, they promise to be with each other through the ups and downs of life, through better or for worse.
The groom fastens the mangalsutra or the sacred gold chain with black beads, around the bride’s neck, a ritual that means that she belongs to him now. He adorns her toes with jodave or toe rings and sprinkles sindoor or vermilion on her forehead – symbols of a married Maharashtrian woman.
The groom stands behind the bride, with his hands touching hers. Together, they offer puffed rice or lhaya to the sacred fire. The bride’s brother places some puffed rice into her palms and assures her that he’ll be there for her, even in bad times, and then performs the Kaanpilne, where he pulls his brother-in-law’s ears as a mock warning that he’d better take care of his sister.
This is a ritual essential for every Hindu wedding. Seven heaps of rice with a betel net on each are decorated around the wedding altar, and the sacred fire is rekindled. The groom leads the bride around it, and she has to place her right foot on the heaps of rice. This is done as the priest chants the sacred verses, and the couple offer parched grains and clarified butter (ghee) to the fire.
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and the newly-wedded couple pray to her, seeking her blessings. This is when the groom might give his wife a new name (if both of them are agreeable). The couple folds their hands in honor of the Pole Star, a ritual which means that they are determined to remain steadfast in their marital vows all through their lives. Lunch is served after all the wedding rituals. The bridal procession, Devakotthapana or bidding goodbye to the deities, and the Mandopodvasana or dismantling the marriage pandal is the last of the rituals.
The new bride crosses the threshold of her in-laws’ house for the first time.On this occasion, the place is decorated with marigolds and mango leaves. She gently upturns a wooden measure placed at the doorway, scattering the pile of rice into the living room. The bride is supposed to be Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, bringing good luck and fortune into the lives of the people in the new family.
Popularly known as the reception, this is the wedding party and often hosted by the groom’s parents. The bride wears a rich Paithani sari and sits on a red paat or a low platform. The reception hall is decorated with flowers, and rangoli. The menu generally includes favorite Maharashtrian items such as shrikhand (flavored yogurt), puri-bhaji, basundi (milk-based dessert), masala bhat (spiced rice), and bhajiyas (fried snacks).
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