Hello from IWA Team,
Today, we’ll discuss events in Sindhi Wedding Program.
Sindhi Wedding Rituals:
Part 1; Sindhi Pre-wedding
Sindhis follow some very interesting and unique wedding rituals.
This is one of the first ceremonies that happen after the girl and boy give the go ahead and the families approve the match. Each of them is given a coconut and some mishri (granular sugar) to signify that they belong to each others’ families now. This is like a temporary engagement, till the formal one takes place a week before the wedding.
This is the formal engagement ceremony, held a week before the wedding, where the girl and the boy exchange rings. It is a joyous occasion, where all close friends and family members get together to celebrate. This is similar to most engagement ceremonies held in various cultures.
An auspicious occasion, this ceremony is held a few days before the wedding and marks the beginning of the wedding celebrations. A chakki or a stone grinder is installed in the house of the girl and boy as a totemic deity. This deity is worshipped till the conclusion of the wedding ceremonies. Once the Dev Bithana ceremony is held, the bride and the groom cannot leave their houses. Their respective brothers-in-law are appointed as Ainars or marriage guards, and they are supposed to look after the needs of the to-be-married couple and help them through the rituals.
This lyrical event marks the commencement of wedding preparation in the boy’s house. Everybody in the groom’s family gets together to sing traditional wedding songs. A plain metal plate or a dholak (drum) is the only musical instrument that accompanies the songs. Women from the neighbourhood are invited for this ceremony and there’s a lot of singing and dancing.
This is a satsang ceremony in honor of Jhulelal, the Sindhi God. Held about ten days before the marriage, this satsang is an auspicious precursor to all the other wedding ceremonies.
Wanwas and Mehendi
The Mehendi ceremony is a common ritual in India, where the hands and feet of the bride are adorned with intricate henna patterns. It is a musical event and the women of the family get together to sing folk songs. On the same day, the ceremony of Wanvas is held for the bride and groom. Both are asked to wear their old clothes, which will be discarded after the ceremony. Stuffed in a bag, these clothes are thrown into a river or the sea. It is symbolic of the fact that they are throwing away the old to make place for the new things/life. It is also symbolic of warding off evil.
Done the night before the wedding, in this seven married women get together and massage oil into the girl’s hair. After this, the bride has to break an earthen pot in one shot. If she succeeds, then it is a good omen for things to come. Santh is also performed for the groom at his house.
You’ve probably already heard of this as it’s quite a common ritual in most parts of northern India. Akin to a bachelor’s party, this is a bridal pre-wedding party, where the bride gets together with her female friends and other women folk to sing traditional wedding songs. It’s an occasion for much teasing and merry-making.
The bride is showered with flowers on the same evening. The female relatives of the groom, like his sisters, cousins as well as small children, visit the bride with floral jewelry crafted with mogra or jasmine flowers. The bride is dressed in a silk sari and decked up with the floral jewelry. Later, the groom calls on the bride’s home, where he is presented with garlands. After that, everybody partakes in a lavish feast. Saagri is a blessing ceremony, where blessings come in the guise of flowers.
Ghari puja is done in the houses of the groom and the bride, where priests offer prayers, while the married women of the household grind wheat on an old-fashioned stone grinder. This action signifies that prosperity will grace both the homes. After that, the groom offers a fistful of grains to the priest as a promise that he’ll be generous towards the less fortunate and give to charity. Both the mothers deck up in their bridal finery and walk from the threshold of their homes, carting clay pots brimming with water, on their heads. The sons-in-law from each of the families use a knife to symbolically ‘cut’ the water as a symbol of warding off evil spirits. Relatives and friends gift garlands of money and flowers to the parents.
Well, this one is similar to other North Indian weddings, where the bridegroom, dressed in a rich, embroidered sherwani and sehra, sits on a mare, before setting course to the bride’s house or the venue of the wedding. The mother of the groom holds out a sacred lamp that has been lit for the gods, as a symbol of good luck and best wishes. As the groom, looking grand on his white mare, makes his way slowly through the crowd of well-wishers, relatives and musicians, there is a lot of dancing, singing and merrymaking. The women shower the groom with rice.
When the wedding procession reaches the wedding venue, the bride’s family welcomes the baraatis with garlands. The bride, accompanied by her friends, peeps out from a window or from the terrace to catch a glimpse of her soon-to-be husband. She can only see the turban or crown of the groom and must not see his face directly. The groom is welcomed inside by the cousins and siblings of the bride, while the women are welcomed by the bride’s female relatives with sindoor or vermilion and red scarves or ribbons – this is a way to honor their married status. They are also presented with new saris.
The couple sit facing each other with a screen held across so that they cannot see each other. The bride’s brother is supposed to wash the bride and the groom’s feet in a bronze platter brimming with raw milk. The priest measures the couple’s feet with a thread that is given to the bride.
A ceremony common to most North Indian weddings, here the couple face each other and exchange garlands. It’s a fun ritual where the friends of the groom often lift him up so that he is beyond the bride’s reach. Her friends in turn, lift her up so that she can finally toss the garland around the groom’s neck.
A scarf worn by the groom is tied to a corner of the bride’s sari. Sacred threads are tied around the couple’s right wrists, signifying an eternal bond. They offer prayers to Gods and ask them for their blessings as they step into a new chapter of their lives.
Part 2: Sindhi Wedding ceremony
Like all Hindu weddings, Sindhi weddings are also solemnized before the sacred fire. The couple sit in front of the wedding altar with a crackling fire, while the priest chants mantras from the scriptures. The bride and the groom walk four times around the fire and exchange vows of respect, fidelity, love, duty and a fruitful union. The groom places the girl’s hand on his forehead, accepting her as his wife and promising to be by her side through sickness and health.
Once all the wedding ceremonies are over and everyone partakes in the lavish wedding feast, the bride leaves her parental home and makes her way to her marital home. The Vidaai is an emotional ritual and an especially sad ceremony for the girl’s parents. The girl and boy travel by different routes to reach the groom’s home.
Part 3: Sindhi Post-wedding Rituals:
This is a ceremony where the bride is welcomed into the house by her in-laws. When the couple reach the house, their arrival is heralded by beating drums. The groom’s parents wash the bride’s feet and place a scarf or dupatta over her head as she sprinkles milk at various corners of the house. Then, the bride scoops up a fistful of salt and passes it on to her husband. This is done thrice. The same ‘salt ritual’ is done with all the relatives and members of the family to signify that the bride must blend into the family, like salt blends into food.
This ritual marks the conclusion of the wedding ceremonies. The grinder that had been installed as a totemic deity is removed on this day. Chhanar is also known as Dev Uthana. After this, the newly-wed couple visit the bride’s house at an auspicious time.
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