Joy, Excitement, Food and Rituals of a Gujarati Wedding Ceremony

When we think about Gujarati weddings, the songs “Nagada Sang Dhol” and “Dholi Taro” comes to our mind. The sounds of Dhol, Nagada, Murli, Turi, Taturi are the first that you would hear when you attend any Gujarati wedding. Gujarat is the land of culture, colors and delicious food. People of Gujarat financially well-off and also have a rich culture. Their weddings are very traditional, ritualistic, and grand which includes their food, decorations and their attires. All the rituals are followed very carefully and with complete dedication. Gujarati weddings are packed with fun-filled events including the Garba nights and the delicious vegetarian food that they serve in the wedding. 

The Gujarati Wedding ceremonies have three parts including the pre wedding rituals, wedding day ceremonies and post wedding ceremonies. Let’s have a look about the rituals and ceremonies that take place during the marriage in any Gujarati family.

Pre Wedding rituals and ceremonies :

  • Chandlo Matli – When the marriage gets fixed between the two families, this ritual is performed. During this ritual, the father of the bride along with four other male members of his family visits the groom’s house and applies Chandlo – a red circle made of vermillion at the center of the forehead. They bless the groom and offer him Shagun.
  • Gol Dhana / Sagaai – Gol Dhana means coriander seeds and jaggery. This ritual is performed a few days before the wedding  which also means the engagement ceremony in other cultures. The bride’s family visits the groom’s family and presents them with gifts of sweets and savories. The bride and the groom exchange rings. Five married women, each from the bride’s and groom’s family blesses the couple-to-be for a happy married life. A small feast is arranged for members of the two families. 
  • Ganesha Sthapan – Also known as Ganesha Maatli is said to be the beginning of any wedding ceremony or ritual. During this ceremony, both the families of the bride and the groom perform a Ganesh puja at their home a few days before the wedding. Everyone prays for their happy and successful married life.
  • Mandap Mahurat – This ritual is performed to start the arrangements of the wedding. Both the bride’s and the groom’s family performs this ritual. The priest performs a puja at the house especially praying to Lord Ganesha and seeking his blessings to remove all obstacles from the couple’s paths before their union.
  • Mehendi – Mehendi ceremony takes place two days prior to the wedding day. Henna paste is applied on the bride’s hands and feet. The initials of the groom are incorporated in the design. Other women in the family also apply mehendi. Wedding songs are sung by women at the venue during the mehendi ceremony.
  • Pithi – Pithi is almost similar to haldi ceremony in which a paste of sandalwood, turmeric, saffron, rosewater is applied to the bride and the groom by friends and family at their respective homes. The turmeric included in the paste is considered auspicious.
  • Sangeet Sandhya / Sanji – This is the most fun filled ceremony in the Gujarati wedding and is observed during the evening a day prior to the wedding. Both the bride’s and the groom’s family get together at a common venue and perform songs and dance especially traditional Dandiya and Garba dances. 
  • Mameru – Also known as Mosalu, this ceremony takes place one or two days prior to the wedding day. The groom’s maternal uncles, Mama and Mosa, visit the bride’s house with presents for her, ahead of her wedding day. Traditionally, the gifts include her bridal dress – a Paanetar saree, jewellery sets and chura, along with sweets and dry fruits.

Wedding Day Ceremonies :

  • Varghodo – This ceremony is the Gujarati wedding version of a Baraat. The groom arrives at the bride’s house on a horse and is followed by a dancing procession led by his family members and friends. 
  • Ponkvu – The family of the bride welcomes the groom’s Baraat with the ritual of Ponkvu in a grand way. The bride’s mother welcomes the groom with Aarti and Tilak after which she playfully pulls his nose while he tries to escape.
  • Jaimala – Both the bride and the groom exchange garlands as they formally meet each other for the first time on their wedding day. During Jaimala, they exchange the garland twice while playing a game where their relatives lift them higher so that they don’t get snared first.
  • Madhuparka – The mother of the bride leads the groom to the Mandap. She washes his feet with milk and water and then offers him Panchamrut, a drink made of ghee, honey, sugar, milk and yogurt. While the groom is busy in the wedding ritual, the bride’s sisters take advantage of this opportunity and hide the shoes of the groom. 
  • Antarpaat – In this ceremony, a curtain is raised between the bride and groom. The bride is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncle. During the course of this ritual, the curtain is lowered.
  • Kanya Daan – The bride’s father washes the groom’s feet with milk and water, after which he gives his daughter’s hand to him and blesses the couple. Kanyadaan is the moment when the bride’s father gives his daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand.
  • Hasta Milap and Varmala – The priest ties the bride’s saree to the groom’s shawl in this ritual known as the hasta milap. After that, a cord is tied around the couple’s necks by the elders in the family to ward off evil, which is known as varmala.
  • Mangal Pheras – The bride and the groom circle around the fire four times, each with its own special meaning and commitment – Dharma, Kama, Artham, Moksha. The priest chants sacred verses from the scriptures asking the couple to repeat them. The married couple then seeks the blessings of the elders. 
  • Saptapadi – The bride touches seven betel nuts placed at regular intervals along a straight line with her right toe. The groom helps her to perform the task. The bride and the groom then repeats the seven sacred vows during this ritual.
  • Sindoon Daan – The groom puts vermillion or the sindoor on the bride’s hair parting and ties the mangalsutra around her neck. 
  • Kansar – The bride and groom feed each other with sweets at the end of the wedding ceremony. 

Post-wedding Rituals and ceremonies :

Gujarati Matrimonial
  • Saubhagyavati Bhava – To bless the couple, seven married women are invited to the bride’s place. While blessing the bride, these seven women recite the three words, Akhanda Sauvagyavati Bhava which means may your married glory remain forever.
  • Chero Pakaryo – This is a fun-filled ritual where the groom tugs at the saree of his mother-in-law where he asks for gifts from the bride’s family.
  • Ashirwad – The couple seeks blessings from all the elders of both the families.
  • Vidaai – The bride bid a tearful goodbye to her family and headed towards her husband’s house.
  • Ghar Nu Laxmi – After the bride reaches the groom’s house, she is warmly welcomed by her mother-in-law with an arti and tilak. She then enters her new home after knocking down a pot full of rice with her right foot.
  • Aeki beki– This ceremony is a very joyous ceremony after the hectic wedding schedule. A bowl filled with milk is put in front of the newly wed couple and a ring is dropped in it. Both the bride and the groom then have to find the ring, and whoever wins, gets a gift. It is also believed that whoever finds the ring first will be in control of the family and rules the marriage. 
  • Reception – After the rituals are over at the groom’s end, the groom’s family organizes the wedding reception. The guests at the reception party include mostly the near and dear ones of the groom’s family.

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