The ritual of inconspicuously stealing and hiding the shoes of the bridegroom by the bridesmaids is one of the most amusing and mirthful pranks played on the groom in an Indian wedding.
‘Jutti Chupai’ is a traditional ritual performed in Indian weddings, where the bridesmaids of the bride, particularly the bride’s sisters and friends who attend the wedding, attempt to stealthily take away and hide the shoes of the bridegroom, when he takes them off before stepping into the ‘mandap’ for the ‘pheras’ or ‘saat phere’. ‘Pheras’ are the most important ritual in a Hindu wedding, where the bride and the groom take seven rounds of circumambulating around the pious fire, offering seven prayers to God and taking seven unbreakable vows for their marriage. It is after this ritual when the bride and the groom are religiously stated to be married to each other. Its equivalent in Sikh weddings is the Anand Karaj, where the bride and the groom sit in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, and offer prayers to God, in the midst of hymns chanted by the ‘granthi’ (Sikh priest). It is just before the Anand Karaj that the women from the bride’s side attempt the Jutti Chupai, an indispensable ritual in Sikh weddings.
The sisters and friends of the bride who attend her wedding, together plan to steal and hide the shoes that the groom puts on the main wedding ceremony day, out of fun, merriment and building a friendly and approachable relation with their brother-in-law. The men from the groom’s side, in turn endeavour in concealing and protecting the shoes of the groom, thus not allowing the women to succeed in getting an opportunity to take away the shoes. If the girls succeed, which is more often than not, then they lovingly demand a reasonable sum of money from their brother-in-law, in exchange for his shoes, after the ritual is done and the groom is to leave the ‘mandap’ with the bride. The groom is left with no choice but to pay the ransom amount to his demanding ‘saalis’ (sisters-in-law) and get his shoes back.
The Jutti Chupai game is played out of humour and fun in Indian weddings. It is most common in Sikh weddings, where the groom has to give the bridesmaids rings called ‘kaleechris’ along with a good sum of money. After the long and tedious ‘pheras’, Anand Karaj and equivalent rituals, this game plays a small but relieving role in marriages.