Among all the regional weddings in India, weddings of Maharashtra are ones that are filled with simple and vibrant rituals. There is no such ritual which can be termed as unnecessary or irrelevant. All the rituals have particular spiritual significance and exhibit the core values of the Maharashtrian culture.
Most of the wedding ceremonies are conducted during the day and spice up the whole event. While, some of the rituals may, however, vary according to the customs and beliefs of the people, here are some of the important rituals. The venue of the pre-wedding rituals of a typical Marathi wedding takes place at the respective houses of the bride and the groom.
The marriage procedures of a traditional Maharashtrian Wedding begins with Lagnaach Bedior or finding a suitable match. Once that task is done, the horoscopes of the boy and the girl are matched by the priests. It is only after the matching of the horoscope that the other wedding processes begin.
Pre- Wedding Traditions
The Sakhar Puda Ritual
The wedding ceremonies begin with the Sakhar Puda ritual or the engagement ceremony. The bride is gifted with a saree along with a packet of sweets or sugar by the groom’s family. The couple exchange rings after this.
The exact date and time of the wedding is decided by the family priest and thus begins the wedding preparations at both the houses. Five married women or ‘Suhasanis’ are invited to participate in a ceremony where the women pound turmeric or halkund that is to be used later. They also roll out papads and make sandage i.e, pulses soaked and ground, mixed with spices and dried in the sun. after this ritual, both the families begin their shopping. The bride’s family often holds a rukhvat or an exhibition of decorative food prepared by the bride.
The wedding invitations are selected and printed. The first invitation is always presented to Lord Ganesha as a symbolic request to grace the auspicious occasion by his divine presence.
The Kelvan Ritual
One or two days before the wedding, both the families offer a puja to the family deity with their friends and relatives. This is the Kelvan Ritual and is followed by a meal.
The Halad Chadavne
This is the haldi ceremony and takes place a day before the wedding. The turmeric pound prepared during the Muhurt Karane ritual is used by the same five Suhasinis. They apply this paste on the head, shoulders, face, hands, and feet of the bride and the groom with mango leaves. This ceremony first takes place at the groom’s place and then the leftover turmeric is passed on to the bride’s place. The bridal attire for this ritual is usually a yellow saree or lehenga.
The wedding day ceremonies begin with Ganapati Puja to take blessings of Lord Ganesha before other rituals. The bride is escorted to the Lagna Mandap by her maternal uncle where the mangalashtakas or the Sanskrit and Marathi verses are recited. The bride and groom have to wear a string of flowers or pearls on their heads, which is commonly known as mundavalya.
The Seeman Puja
The groom with his family arrives at the wedding venue and the bride’s mother washes his feet, does his aarti, applies tilak on his forehead and feeds him with sweets.
The Gurihar Puja
The bride is decked up in traditional attire which is usually gifted by her maternal uncle. She then worships a silver idol of Goddess Parvati placed on a mound of rice, by offering some rice, she seeks her blessings for a prosperous married life.
The Antarpat Ritual
The groom arrives at the mandap and sits at his designated place. The groom usually wears a white or cream colour sherwani and has his head covered by a traditional cap or turban. A cloth is held in front of the groom so that he is not able to see the bride, this cloth is called Antarpat.
The Sankalp Ritual
When the bride arrives at the mandap, the priest chants the Mangalahstakas or the holy wedding vows. The Antarpat is removed thereafter and the couple sees each other. They exchange garlands and are showered with unbroken rice or akshatas.
The Kanyadaan Ritual
The father of the bride, hands over his daughter to the groom through the kanyadaan ritual. The father blesses his daughter and her husband to lead a life of Dharma, Artha, and Karma. The bride’s parents worship the couple as avatars of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The couple ties a piece of turmeric or halkund with a thread on each other’s arms and this ritual is known as Kankan Bandhane. The groom then puts vermillion on the bride ’s forehead and ties mangalsutra around her neck. The bride in return applies a sandalwood tilak on the groom’s forehead.
The Saptapadhi Ritual
The couple now takes seven rounds around the sacred fire and chant the seven vows that they are expected to follow.
The Karmasampti Ritual
This is the last wedding ritual, the bride and groom pray in front of the sacred fire before it is extinguished and the bride’s father playfully twists the groom’s ear to remind of his future duties.
Post- Wedding Traditions
The Manpan Ritual
The bride’s mother gifts saree to the groom’s mother, sisters and other female relatives and the bride’s father gifts clothes to the groom’s father, brothers and other male relatives. The same is done by the groom’s family too.
The Varaat Ritual
Once all the wedding rituals are over, the bride bids a tearful goodbye to her family and leaves for her husband’s house. The groom carries the silver idol of Goddess Parvati which was worshipped during the Gurihar Puja. The Varaat refers to the procession that leads the bride to her husband’s home.
The Grihapravesh Ritual
This is the first ritual after the wedding which is conducted at the groom’s place. The groom’s mother embraces the couple and washes their feet with milk and water. She performs the traditional aarti and asks the bride to enter the house by knocking down a small pot or Kalash filled with rice and kept at the entrance. This is known as the grihapravesh ritual
The Reception Party
The reception party is organized by the groom’s family where the couple meets all the family members and friends. The bride wears the saree gifted to her by her in-laws while the groom wears the clothes gifted to her by the bride’s family.
So here were all the rituals that make a Maharashtrian wedding a pretty and heart-warming affair. All the rituals prove to be a visual treat to whoever is watching them and great scope for some awesome photography.