Kashmiri weddings follow a series of pre nuptial rites and rituals which mark the commencement of marriages. These rituals include horoscope matching, 'Vaana' or engagement ceremony and 'Devgon'.
Just like any other Hindu marriage, the most important ritual is the matching of horoscope of the boy and the girl. But before the horoscopes are considered to be matched, the status, fame and moral character of the family and their close relatives are also checked. 'Kasamdary' follows this, which is a formal commitment on the part of both the girl and boy's families to the marriage.
Engagement Ceremony or 'Vaana'
The date of the engagement is fixed by the family purohits. On this day the maidservant or sister of the boy's family present would be bride with gifts. After exchanging the rings the maidservant or sister of the groom feed cream and dry fruits to the bride with a silver spoon. Both families hold a music session in the evening, wherein Kashmiri marriage and folk songs are sung.
Devgon literally mean Havan ceremony. For the girl, this day starts with a holy bath named "kanishran". In this ritual, a veil held by young girls is placed over the bride's head and a mixture of water, rice, milk and curd is showered along with flowers by the relatives present fully dressed in traditional clothes and headgear, she is draped in the famous Kashmiri shawl. The boy too starts his day with a bath and comes fully decked for the ceremony.
All invitees assemble at the groom's residence. The groom normally wears the pheran and his waistband along with a sword and embroidered slip-on shoes on his feet. The eldest paternal uncle ties the turban. A plate of rice containing some money is touched to the left shoulder of the groom while the turban is being tied. The groom rides a horse in the marriage procession to the bride's house. They are greeted and welcomed with the blowing of "shankhs".
The bride's maternal uncle has to carry her out to the place where the groom is made to stand. The marriage ceremony is initiated with traditional verses shlokas read by the pundit. The bride and the groom are told about their duties towards one another. The couple has to cross their arms one over the other and hold hands covered with cloth. This ritual is called "Aathwas". It is believed as a part of tradition that the first one who manages to pull out the other's engagement ring plays a dominating role in the married life of the couple.
A golden thread (Mananmal) is tied to their foreheads. Stepping on seven one rupee silver coins placed in a circle makes the first round around the sacred fire. The next six rounds are done to the chanting of mantras. The bride and the groom finally feed each other some food. They are considered officially married after this ceremony. As always an emotional ritual of "Bidaai" is performed when the bride leaves her parent's house to take on her responsibilities to her husband and in-laws.
Post Marriage Rituals
'Satraat', 'Phirlath' and 'Roth Khabar' are some of the significant post-wedding rites which are practised after the wedding of Kashmiri couple.
The same evening of the wedding the bride accompanied by her husband and two children from the groom's family have to go to her father's house for dinner. As a part of the "satraat" ceremony, the couple is presented new clothes by the bride's parents, which they have to wear before returning home.
"Phirlath" is a tradition where the couple is invited again for lunch or dinner by the girl's parents.
Roth is a one-meter long and half-meter wide cake decorated with nuts and sent to the groom's family on a Tuesday or Saturday following the wedding.