The Manipuri Wedding is a grand spectacular event. Though they marry within their community and caste they are open to inter-caste marriages outside Manipuri community too. The various tribes have a more or less similar process of matchmaking. Among the Magh tribe, young men and women get an opportunity to know each other closely at the New Year eve at the grand festival. This is the apt time when they choose their partners, and then ask for the approval of their parents.
Girls of the different tribes go to the market to purchase and sell goods. This again provides an opportunity for boys and girls to know each other more closely, select partners, and then marry with the consent of their parents. Young men and women among tribes work together in the fields and thus get an opportunity to select their life partners while in work. They do not marry within their clans.
There are certain set customs and ceremonies which are followed in the steps leading up to a Manipuri wedding. The first step here is the Hinaba, where the boy`s parents meet the girl`s parents in her house. Here the horoscopes of the boy and girl are matched. If this step goes successfully and both parents agree, the next meeting, known as the `Yathang Thanaga` is fixed. In this ritual the consent of the girl`s parents is obtained. The next ritual is the `Waroipat Puba`. In this boy`s relatives bring food items and finally the wedding is fixed. The last step is the `Heijapot` or the engagement where the announcement of the wedding is made among friends and relatives. The groom`s friends and relatives bring fruits, food and gifts to the bride`s house. The girl`s parents invite their friends and relatives. The Brahmin decides the marriage date and rituals.
It is essential for the bride to wear the Raslila skirt. The bridegroom`s dress is white dhoti, Kurta and turban. Kirtans and Shahnai music are played when the bride and the bridegroom have completed their seven rounds.
Marriage customs in Manipuri wedding
Colourful wedding pandals are made. The bride and groom move round the pandal to be greeted with paddy and durva grass. A Manipuri bride comes to visit her parents for the first time after five days of her marriage thus providing an occasion for a sumptuous feast. According to tribal custom, all members of the clan are invited to this ceremony and they come with presents of rice, meat, fowls, pigs, money and alcohol. A Manipuri marriage party is of a great show but little is wasted for giving meals. Not less than thirty cars will attend a marriage in a Meitei house in Imphal. A marriage attended by a convoy of cars is considered as a status symbol. The men dress in dhoti and kurta with a shawl wrapped around and women in pink `fanek` and white chader.
The reception ceremony is very formal. At the entrance of the gate a Meitei woman offers a Thali containing a banana leaf in which the betel nut, pan and tamul is arranged. The arrangement for sitting is made around the Tulsi platform. In each Meitei house the Tulsi plant is grown over a raised platform. All the auspicious ceremonies are conducted around this plant.
The Manipuri groom is welcomed by lighting a pradip and a young boy washes his feet. At this time kirtan is sung and tradition music is played. Two women from both sides release a pair of taki fish symbolizing the groom and the bride into water. It is an auspicious omen if the pair of fish moves side by side in the water. The gods and other deities are offered exceptional food on the occasion so that they may bless the couple in abundance. Next day Bride`s family and friends visit her in order o check her well-being in the new house. After five days "mangani chakouba" takes place. The groom and the bride and other invitees have a nice "Fish" meal, including many other Manipuri dishes on this day.