Maharashtrian wedding and its traditional customs and rituals!
Maharashtrian wedding is perhaps the simplest and the least sumptuous in the whole country. It is a simple affair with light moments, like the bride’s brother twisting the groom’s ear; the couple feeding each other sweets; and taking each other’s names in verses etc.
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Maharashtrian wedding is perhaps the simplest and the least sumptuous in the whole country. Unlike other marriages, most of the rituals are preformed early in the morning. The Maharashtrian marriage procedure starts with finding a suitable counterpart. After this, the horoscope of the boy and the girl are matched by the purohits. After the horoscopes match, the mahurut for the marriage is taken out. This is followed by the preparations for the wedding, with the wedding rituals being performed alongside.
Maharashtrian marriages are a simple affair with light moments, like the bride’s brother twisting the groom’s ear; the couple feeding each other sweets; and taking each other’s names in verses etc.
The couple is initiated into Grihasthashram- a vow taken by both to unite and be together all their life while pursuing dharma, artha, kama, moksha. The bride asks the groom to promise her that he will never violate her limits – maryada – the groom asks her to always remain devoted and loyal to her. They lovingly agree to devotion and have progeny.
The Marathi wedding rituals are performed with a lot of vivacity and enthusiasm. Maharashtrian Weddings are performed in proper traditional way and all the rituals are performed by a priest. Hence, these comprise of the typical Hindu wedding rituals. Each stage in the wedding ritual in Maharashtra has some imperative significance and it is more of a homely affair than a overexcited show. Unlike the other wedding rituals in India, the Maharashtrian Wedding rituals are carried out in day time, mostly in the afternoon. It is rather the marriage that is celebrated in simplest way. It is less lavish than the other marriages in India.
Pre Wedding Rituals in Marathi Wedding:
Sakhar Puda ceremony is the first ritual which takes place in a Maharashtrain wedding. It can be termed as the engagement, wherein the bride is given a sari, and sweet or sugar, by the groom’s family. Next is the Kelvan ceremony, which is performed at both the bride’s and the groom’s house. It is a small puja of the kuldevta, followed by a meal. After this, the Haldi ceremony takes place, wherein turmeric paste is applied to both the bride and the groom. This is known as Halad Chadavane. This is followed by Simant puja, wherein, once the groom arrives at the bride’s place; her parents wash his feet and give him gifts.
The pre wedding rituals include Sakhar Puda ceremony, Kelvan ceremony, Haldi ceremony, Halad Chadavane, Simant puja etc.
Engagement Ceremony – a pre wedding Ritual:
Usually, the engagement ceremony is conducted at the bride’s home. Engagement or Sakharpuda literally means a packet of sugar, which is given to each other. It is usually supposed to be a simple affair wherein the bridegroom and his close relatives come to the bride’s home. But with changing times, the ceremony is celebrated more illustriously usually organised by bride’s side on a large scale inviting more guests at a more suitable and lavish venue.
The bride flanked by her parents and karvali i.e. bride’s sister (usually a younger and single) sit in a row on a wooden board. The bridegroom`s mother applies haldi-kunku and gives a sari to the bride into which bride is supposed to change. Afterward the bridegroom`s mother does Oti Bharane and gives Sakharpuda – a cone shaped decorative parcel filled with peda (sweet). This ceremony symbolizes that bridegroom’s side has given their word to the bride’s side that they have fixed the union. Similarly, to give their consent in return, the bride`s mother invites the bridegroom, his parents and karvali to sit on the wooden board. She applies kumkum tilak to the groom and his father and haldi-kunku to groom`s mother and karvali and gives a clothing item as also Sakharpuda to the groom. After this ceremony, the bride and the groom exchange rings on the each other’s left hand ring-finger.
Muhurt Karane – a pre wedding Ritual:
On an auspicious day, months before the marriage day, both the sides start wedding preparation. Usually, it is called muhurt karane when at least five wedded women (suvasini) are invited. With iron pestle tied with mango leaves, one by one they pound dried haldi (halkund) in iron mortar into fine haldi powder which is used during haldi function. Thereafter they roll out papads and make sandage (soaked dals grinded with spices are made into tiny balls and dried in the Sun).
After muhurt, both the sides, particularly, bride’s side goes on a shopping spree. The bride’s side prepares for rukhvat – an exhibition of gift articles, decorative pieces, handicrafts, eatables such as five types – each of dry fruits, fruits, ladoos, moramba, sweets etc. Actually this is to convey bride`s various skills but it goes without saying that anyone can contribute to this exhibition. On a promising day, the first invitation is given to Lord Ganesh by visiting his temple and then to other Gods. Afterward, invitations are given personally by parents as per the seniority of the invitees. Usually, the ladies carry a silver kunku karanda and silver bowl with akshata – coloured rice for invitations.
Kelvan – a pre wedding Ritual:
The respective close relatives and friends call over the bride and the groom and their family for a meal and give her a gift The Two-three days prior to the marriage day, for gharacha Kelvan, close relatives are invited for a meal at the bride and the groom`s place and close relatives wedding gifts are given to the bride and similar ceremony takes place at groom’s side among his folks. The parents officially give expensive clothes, jewellery, silverware etc. to the bride.
Halad Chadavane – a pre wedding Ritual:
On the day before the marriage day, haldi powder pounded on the muhurt is made into a paste in a plate. One after another, the five suvasini dip mango leaves – one in each hand – in plate of haldi paste and apply it first on feet, then on knees, then on shoulders and then on forehead of the bride. Each suvasini does this three times. Same ceremony takes place at the groom’s side. Often, ushti halad i.e. haldi paste left over after applying it to the groom, is taken to the bride’s place and is applied to the bride. After the haldi ceremony is that the wishful couple is not supposed to go out and expose themselves. This may take place on the wedding day before the ritual bath.
Simant Pujan – a pre wedding Ritual:
Simant literally means boundary. The groom and the marriage party are welcomed at the boundary of the bride`s home or village and her mother does puja of the groom. These days, it is done on the wedding day itself at the place of marriage. Bride’s mother washes the groom’s feet by pouring a little water over his feet in a plate, does kumkum tilak, puts akshata on groom’s head, does arati and gives some sweet. The groom is made to sit in the place and bride’s father gives gifts like a piece of clothing and jewellery to the groom. Groom`s mother and ladies go to bride’s quarter and give her five saris and jewellery.
Sankalp – a pre wedding Ritual:
The day before the marriage day, parents of the bride and the groom in their respective places announce the marriage that is witnessed by the priest. This ceremony may take place on the wedding day itself.
Wedding Rituals in Marathi Wedding:
Antarpat is a silk shawl used to separate the bride and the groom. The maternal uncle of the bride brings her to the dias, where the mangalashtakas are recited. Then the shawl is removed and the couple sees each other for the first time and interchange garlands. At this moment they are showered with uninterrupted rice. After this, the couple asks their parents for permission to get wedded. This is called the Sankalp ceremony. After this, the bride’s parents perform the Kanyadaan ritual, wherein they offer their daughter to the groom.
After Kanyadaan, the groom ties mangalsutra around bride’s neck and applies vermillion in her hair parting. She in return applies a sandalwood tilak on his forehead. Next is the Vivah Homa, which is conducted by the groom in assistance with the priest. Following this is the Saptapadhi ritual, wherein the couple takes seven rounds around the sacred fire, taking seven vows. The marriage ceremony comes to an end with the Karmasampati ritual, wherein the bride’s father, the bride and the groom please Gods to bless the marriage.
The guest are received and welcomed at the doorway by some elders from both the families along with applying perfume from an attardani on the back of the right hand of the guests, rose water is sprinkled from gulabdani and welcome sweet are distributed. Marathi or Maharashtrian rituals and ceremonies in details on the wedding day as follows:
The auspicious wedding ceremony begins with Ganpatipujan and a prayer is performed for Lord Ganesh’s blessing to take the wedding through without any problems or obstacle. This prayer is performed at both the groom’s as well as bride’s quarters.
For purification of minds and place, priests ask groom/bride and his/her father to pray and ask for the blessings of everyone at their respective quarters.
It is also called kuldevata sthapana wherein the family god is invoked to bless the bridal couple and the ceremony takes place at groom’s as well as bride’s quarters.
The bride attired in a yellow sari given by her maternal uncle and mundavalya (decorative strings of pearls, beads, flowers) tied on the forehead apart from other jewellery and facial make-up is all ready to get wedded. She sits in her room in front a silver idol of Parvati is placed on a pile of rice. She keeps on taking some rice with both her hands and puts on the idol while praying the Goddess Annapurna. At this moment, the bride is not supposed to talk and instead needs to concentrate on her prayers.
Everybody present in the mandap is given akshata and everybody stands close to the mandap. The groom, head covered with topi and mundavalya tied on the forehead, is invited to the mandap where he stands on a wooden platform (pat) facing west and holding a thick garland. The priests hold a cloth screen called antarpat in front of the groom chanting mangalashtaka. The bride`s maternal uncle escorts the bride to the mandap and she is asked to stand on the other side of the antarpat also holding similar garland. Respective karvali stands behind the bride/groom with a copper kalash containing holy water and topped with betel leaves and coconut. Another young girl stands with arati. Mostly the bridegroom’s mother stands behind the bride with eksari – black beads string with big gold bead in the centre. The bride’s mother is supposed to be absent at this ceremony. She would be waiting at the bride’s quarter where she will not be able to hear the mangalashtaka.
Willing relatives, friends and guests also get chance to sing their own compositions of mangalashtaka which are typical Sanskrit or Marathi verses invoking Gods, describing the ceremony, admiring the bridal couple`s family members, giving advice to the bridal couple and finally giving blessing as also best wishes for the life together ahead. Each stanza ends with “Kuryat Sada Mangalam, Shubh Mangal Savdhan” and everybody showering akshata on the bridal couple.
At the stroke of the muhurt, the priest chants last verses of the mangalashtaka loudly removing the antarpat and among the traditional music of vajantri (consists of shehnai and choughada). The groom first puts a garland around the bride’s neck and then the bride around the groom’s neck. The respective karvalis apply holy water from the kalash to the eyes of bride and groom and perform arati.
This is the ceremony where bride`s father legitimately gives the bride away to the groom. The priest asks the groom to join both the palms and receive in it stream of holy water poured by bride`s mother while bride`s father says that he is giving away in marriage his daughter to this gentleman so that both of them can start together a life of Dharma, Artha and Kama. The groom accepts it saying that this is giving away love for love. The one who gives love is also one who receives love. The groom tells the bride that she is the shower of love, which has been given by the Sky and received by the Earth. This is perhaps the most emotional moment in all the rituals of a maharashtrian wedding.
Then the bride asks for a promise from the groom that he will never infringe her limits in Dharma, Artha and Kama. The bride’s parents perform Lakshmi Narayan Puja of the bridal couple considering them to be avatar of the god and the goddess.
The couple ties on each other’s hand a halkund with a thread and this is called kankan bandhane.
The wedding couple is asked to hold akshata in left hand and shower them with the right while expressing their desire for gunsamriddhi, dhan, dharma, santan, kirti. The priest and elders pray that all their desires be fulfilled.
Continuous Chanting mantras during the ritual when the groom puts mangalsutra around bride`s neck.
A stone is kept to the west of the homkund (fire) and a pot of water is kept to its northeast. To the north, four darbhas are spread on which there are two vessels. A pot of Ghee is kept nearby. The priest tells the bridal couple that having taken the oath of marriage now; the same is to be taken in the witness of the sacred fire. Then the priest asks the groom to pour ghee in the name of Skanda, Prajapati, Agni and Som. The groom prays to the sacred fire asking to make them pure and keep their enemy away; asking for children and their long lives; asking to protect his bride and make her give good progeny whom she would see by living a long life.
The priest asks the bride to join palms in which the groom puts a spoonful of ghee, a fistful of puffed rice and again a spoonful of ghee. The groom holds with both his hands the bride`s joined palms and puts this in the fire chanting mantras, which means that this girl has worshipped the fire, which will never make her break loving ties with her in-laws.
The groom holds the bride`s right hand and goes around the fire chanting mantras that mean, “I am Purush, you are Prakriti. I am the Sky, you are the Earth. I am a Song, you are a tune. With these conceptual ideas and love in mind, let us unite forever to procreate. Let us live hundred years and always have mutual understanding.”
Having worshiped the fire, the priest asks the couple to take seven steps with the same thoughts and determination. The groom, with his right hand, holds the bride`s left hand and starts taking step towards the north-east direction. First, the right foot is taken forward and then the left foot is joined with it while chanting mantras. Like this, seven steps are taken. At every two feet, small heaps of rice are kept on which they are supposed to tread. The couple asks for seven needs of life – one each at each step. These are food, strength, wealth, happiness, progeny, pleasure of enjoying various seasons and immortal friendship.
The couple is asked to stand facing each other and touch their foreheads – literally meaning putting their heads together for decision-making hereafter.
A touch of humour is added to the ceremony with the bride`s brother twisting the groom`s right ear to remind him of his responsibility towards his sister.
Bride’s mother does oti bharane and gives a sari to the bride, which she wears. The groom may also change into another set of clothes and then the couple touches the feet of elders and gets blessed.
Post Wedding Rituals in Marathi or Maharashtrian Wedding:
Grihapravesh is the first ritual conducted after marriage. The groom’s mother welcomes the new couple and washes their feet with milk and water. After this the traditional aarti is performed and the bride is asked to enter the house by knocking down a glass of rice, kept at the entrance. The couple enters the house with their right foot. Last but not the least Reception party is organized, wherein splendid food is served for the guests.
A Post Wedding Ritual – Manpan:
The bride’s mother does oti bharane and gives saris to the groom’s mother, sisters/sister-in-laws. Bride`s father gives gifts to the groom`s father and brothers/brother-in-laws. Similarly, groom`s parents give gifts to the bride`s family.
A Post Wedding Ritual – Reception:
The bride wears shalu – jari brocaded silk sari given by the groom’s side and jewellery while the groom wears clothes given by the bride`s side. Guests greet and give good wishes to the couple along with the wedding gifts. A feast is organised for the guests.
A Post Wedding Ritual – Varat:
The ultimate emotional scene of the whole ceremony is when the bride is bid a goodbye. The groom picks up the silver idol of parvati that is still sitting on gaurihar. The couple touches the feet of elders and the bride meets with all family members to bid a farewell. The couple sits in a vehicle and the procession, with a band and fireworks, goes to the groom’s place.
A Post Wedding Ritual – Grihpravesh:
The couple comes to the doorstep and the groom`s mother does arati of the couple. The bride topples a measuring container filled with rice. It signifies that this bride will bring so much luck that prosperity will flow in the house like the rice flowing out of the toppled vessel.
The couple sits and the groom places the silver idol of Parvati that he carried and places it in a plate of rice and writes the bride`s new name. The groom`s mother sits between the couple and sees the bride`s face in the mirror – this is called soonmukh baghane. The couple gives sugar to all present and they have to take names in verses several times.
A Post Wedding Ritual – Pahili Ratra (first night):
The couple retires to a decorated room with a bed bedecked in flower, to consummate the wedding. The bride takes glass of warm milk for the groom and awaits him. The young relatives tease the groom to heighten the eagerness and send him into the room.
Next day ceremonies of the marriage:
Tond dhune, the bride`s mother gives a sari and a jewellery piece usually made of pearl to the groom`s mother along with a tea-set.
Vyahi bhet, bride`s father gives a gift made of silver to the groom`s father.
Next day morning, five suvasinis do the same as halad chadhavane but in reverse order. This is to signify that now the couple is free to go out. The groom mother unties kankan – halkund tied on the couple`s hand.
Among non-vegetarian Maharashtrians, a non-vegeterian feast is organised at both the quarters separately for the close relatives within a day or two.
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