Traditional Hindu Indian Wedding ceremonies in the Gujarati and Sanskrit tradition are timeless and classic. There are many rituals including pre-wedding ceremonies and dances, as well as post celebratory rituals that take place. Below are some of the amazing ways to experience the full tradition of a Gujarati Wedding from the preparation of a healthy glow to the blessing of the elders.
Gujarati Pre-Wedding Rituals
One day before the wedding, the Pithi Ceremony is held by both the bride and groom’s family. Families of the bride and groom gather with close family and friends. The women in each family then apply turmeric powder all over the body of the bride and groom. Turmeric powder brings a healthy glow to the face in preparation for the wedding day, so the bride and groom are absolutely beautiful when they arrive for their ceremony.
Later that night, family members traditionally gather to perform Garba and Dandiya, which is designed as a meet and greet for both families to get to know one another. Garba and Dandiya collectively include a plethora of traditional Hindu dance moves using both hands and sticks in a rhythmic manner.
On The Big Day
The groom arrives on a horseback dressed in traditional attire and is escorted to the mandap or wedding stage. Family members then dance around the groom to traditional Gujarati music in order to introduce the Baarat. The groom is then blissfully welcomed by the bride’s family while the mother of the bride performs aarti followed by pulling the groom playfully and grabbing his nose.
The groom is then summoned by the mother of the bride to crush earthen pots into small pieces as he steps forward towards her. A ritual signifying that the groom has the power to overcome all obstacles in his married life to her daughter.
The Gujarati wedding ceremony then moves forward with the prayer of Lord Ganesh, known as aradhya daivat: God of peace, who promotes lifelong happiness and prosperity to the happy couple. The prayer concludes with the father of the bride who washes the groom’s feet with honey, yoghurt and ghee.
The bride then arrives escorted by her maternal uncle into the mandap to greet her groom. A curtain, or antarpath, is hung between the bride and groom separating them from one another at first.
The Wedding Ceremony
After the bride arrives, the priest then begins the ceremony by saying mangalashtak and the antarpath is lowered so the couple can greet one another at last and exchange garlands.
The parents then give their daughter to the groom, and a cord is looped around the couple 24 times by the elders in family; which symbolizes that the couple is safe from any negative energy or evil that may be lurking about. The cord also begins the joining of two souls. A scarf worn by the groom is tied to a scarf worn by the blushing bride. Flower petals and rice grains are then showered on the happy couple during this part of the Gujarati ceremony.
The brother of the bride then places rice on the hands of bride and groom and pours it in a majestic fire. The bride and groom circle the fire four times which seals their promise to be with one another always through good health and prosperity, blessings, love and loyalty. The priest then recites a mantra. The couple then rush to see who can sit on their chair first. It is believed in Gujarati tradition that whoever sits first will rule the house for a lifetime.
Next comes the seven important vows which the couple take, also known as the Saptapadi. After which the groom declares his love by marking his Bride with red powder or Sindoor. The happy couple feed sweets to each other and are blessed by seven women to begin their life together. The newlyweds take blessings from their elders by touching their feet.
The Bittersweet Vidaai
Lastly, the bride says a very emotional goodbye to her friends and family, including all her siblings and relatives. It is a touching and tearful moment as she leaves in a specially decorated car for her new home.
Photo Credit: Priya Ohry & Apresh Chavda