In one phrase Marathi weddings can be summed up as simple and beautiful. It is full of rituals of religious significance and still full of fun and joy. Marathi weddings are synonymous with Maharashtrian culture and are full of ceremonies which symbolize family bonding. Let us go in-depth and explore how a Marathi wedding goes ahead.
A traditional Marathi wedding commences with finding the ideal partner and matching the horoscope. The family priest matches the horoscope of both the boy and the girl and then comes the next step of engagement which is called ‘Sakhar Puda’. This is the beginning of the wedding rituals and happens a few days before the actual wedding. Both the families of the bride and the groom come together and the groom’s mother offers the bride a packet of sugar along with clothes and jewellery which symbolizes the acceptance of the girl in the family. Marriage preparation in both the households is known as ‘Muhurt Karane’. Five married women or ‘Suhasanie’ are invited and turmeric is pounded and papads are rolled out as part of traditions. The wedding shopping starts hereafter and wedding invitation cards are printed. The first card is always presented to Lord Ganesha to request his presence in the auspicious ceremony.
Few days before the wedding a puja is performed to the family deity in both the households and a meal is organised among close relatives and family members. This ceremony is called ‘Kelvan’. The next ritual is of ‘Halad Chadavane’, in which turmeric pounded during the ‘Muhurt Karane’ is applied to the head, shoulder, hands and feet of both the bride and the groom by the five suhasanies one day prior to the wedding.
The main wedding rituals start with Ganapati puja which is done to remove all obstacles. The bride and her parents then ask everyone in the venue to bless her. This is known as ‘Punyavachan’. Next, the family deity or the ‘Kul Devta’ is invoked in the ritual called ‘Devdevak’ at the site of the wedding. By this time, the groom along with his family and parents arrive at the wedding venue and the mother of the bride receives him with Aarti. She washes the groom’s feet, applies tilak on his forehead and offers him, sweets. This particular ritual is known as ‘Seeman puja’. The ‘Gurihar puja’ is performed by the bride. Adorned with tradition Marathi wedding attire, she performs puja to Goddess Parvati by offering rice given by her maternal uncle.
During the ‘Antarpat’ ritual, the groom is led to the wedding mandap and a cloth is held in front of the groom preventing him from seeing the bride. The bride is then led to the mandap by her maternal uncle while the priest chants the holy wedding vows. This is known as ‘Sankalp ritual’. The cloth is now removed and the bride and the groom see each other for the first time. Then the floral garlands ‘Jaimala’ are exchanged and unbroken rice is showered on the couple. Following this is the ‘Kanyadan’ in which the father of the bride gives away his daughter to the groom and the groom promises to take her responsibility forever. With this, the couple ties a piece of turmeric with a thread on each other’s hands and the ritual is known as ‘Kankan bandhane’. The groom then ties the Mangalsutra around the bride’s neck and applies sindoor on the central parting of the bride’s hair and the bride in return applies sandalwood paste on the groom’s forehead. Saying out loud the seven ritualistic marriage vows, the bride and the groom perform the ‘Satapadhi’ by circumambulation of the holy fire. The ‘Karmasamapti’ rituals are done by the couple by offering puja to Laxmi until the sacred fire gets extinguished. The Marathi wedding ends on a funny note. The bride’s brother teasingly twists the ears of the groom and reminds him of the future duties and responsibilities. The couple then seeks the blessing of all elders present.
‘Varat’ in a Marathi wedding means farewell to the bride. The bride bids a tearful goodbye to her family and a procession follows the couple to see them off till the groom’s home. The groom picks the idol of goddesses Parvati which was used in the ‘Gaurihar puja’. During the ‘Grihapravesh’ rituals, at the groom’s house, the mother of the groom washes the feet of the couple with milk and water and performs Aarti. The bride knocks down a pot of rice and enters the groom’s household with right feet first. The reception party is the last ceremony of a Maharashtrian wedding. The bride dresses up in gorgeous clothes and jewellery and is introduced to relatives, family and friends from the groom’s side. Varieties of food are served to the guests and the couple commences a new beginning with blessings of all.
Marathi wedding is blending of religious offerings, traditional rituals and fun. It is simple yet full of customs and values. Nowadays due to the touch of modernity lot of new vibrant fusions have been added along with the traditional practices but the grace and age-old customs of a Marathi wedding have remained intact.
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