(Last Updated on : 12/12/2008)
Indian marriages are one of the indispensable customs of the Indian society. The West Indian marriages are bound by the customs of western India. The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and others reflect their customs and traditions in these kinds of marriages. Arranging a marriage is the liability of Indian parents and other relatives of both bride and groom.
In West India there is no greater event in a family than a wedding. In arranging and executing marriages, the complex combinations of Indian social systems best display themselves. Some parents begin marriage arrangements on the birth of a child, and solemnize them to some individual who can start living as husband wife after attaining the legal age. However, nowadays this practice is almost not into use and most of the families wait until later.
Gujarat is the heart of western India and a melting pot of myriad cultures and countless communities who have made this region their home. Apart from the original local Gujarati people, the Jain community too strongly influenced this state with all their social norms and rules. Hence one can easily trace the different types of weddings in Gujarat with the two most well known types being the Gujarati and the Jain weddings. Each community has its own sets of marriage rituals that call for interesting viewing.
In Gujarati Weddings the pre wedding Gujrati rituals include the Mandap Mahurat, Griha Shanti and Jaan. Mandap Mahurat is the ceremony to pray to Lord Ganesh and is considered one of the most auspicious events. It is performed in the homes of both the groom and the bride. The Griha Shanti Puja is performed in both the groom and bride's homes at a particular chosen time that is conducted by a Brahmin priest. Jaan involves the boy arriving at his prospective wife's home to seek her mother's blessings, which perform a small ritual, to ward off the evil eye. This is a fun ritual and it involves the mother trying to pull her son-in-law's nose while he tries his best to avoid it.
The wedding day Gujrati rituals include Kanya Daan, Hasta Milap, Pheras and Saptapadi. Kanya Daan refers to the ritualistic handing over of the girl by her parents to the groom, who also washes their son-in-law's feet on that very occasion, as they believe him to be none other than Lord Vishnu. The ritual of Hasta Milap involves the tying of the groom's scarf with the bride's saree as a symbol of their holy unification amidst the chanting of scared verses and showering of rose petals. Pheras means circling around the ceremonial fire by the couple. The groom also recites mantras, which express his heart's desire and ass for the loving support of his wife. Saptapadi is when the couple is taking seven steps around the fire where each step symbolizes a promise that the couple makes to each other.
The post wedding Gujrati rituals include reception that is held immediately after the wedding gives the chance for the newly weds to get acquainted with relatives and friends and receive blessings from the well-wishers. Vidaai ceremony is when the couple departs from the bride's house. She sets out for her new home in a beautifully decorated car. Ghar Nu Laxmi refers to the first step that the new bride takes in her house. There is a vessel full of rice at the threshold, which the bride is supposed to slant over with her right foot as she enters the house.
In case of Jain Weddings, the rituals are almost the same, but the names of the rituals vary. Vagdana is the informal agreement between the parents of the prospective bride and groom regarding their marriage that is followed by the ritual of Pradana when the bride is gifted gold ornament. Some more important rituals are Laghana Lekhan, Sagai and Lagna Patrika Vachan, Matruka Sthapan or Kulkar Sthapan, Mandapa-Vedi Pratishtha are the pre wedding ceremonies. The wedding day rituals of Jain sect include the Ghudhchadi, Vara Ghoda, Torana Vidhi, Varmala, Paraspara Mukh Avalokana, Kanyavaran, Hasta Melap, Toran Pratishtha, Agni Sthapan, Vedi Pratishtha, Abisheka, Gotrachar, Agni Pradakshina, Granthi Bandhan, Kanyadaan, Vakshepa and Kar-mochan.
The post wedding Jain rituals are also similar to those of the other communities. Some of them are Ashirvada, Sva Graha Aagamana, Jina Grahe Dhan Arpana and Reception. The West Indian weddings have the similar kind of wedding rituals and charisma, but there are certain differences in these weddings as compared to the rest of the country. The cuisine and decoration is also vastly different. It is a well-known fact that the west of India is an abode of fun loving and food loving community. Other than their daily meals, their wedding lunches and dinners are undoubtedly sumptuous. Kachori, Alu Chat, Mixed Kanthol (sprouts) Bhaji, Nav Ratan Kurma, Dal Fry, Kadhi, Dal and pulao, vegetables are some of the primary items to be included in the food list. The Boondi Raita, Rasmalai, Shrikhand and Ice cream form the best desserts.
The Sangeet Mehfil or Musical Party in the West Indian marriages is one of the inevitable celebrations. Sangeet night has professional singers or orchestra party is called to entertain the guests and the Barati. Family and friends eat, drink and dance the night away. The West Indian marriages are for the people loving fun, frolic, food and music at the same time.
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