Maharashtrian Wedding Ritual
The beauty of India is that every 5 kilometers the traditions change, the rituals change. Even though India is a country with a majority of Hindus, the rules keep changing according to the region. Therefore, you will see that a Maharashtrian wedding is a tad bit different from a Gujrati one – although the religion is same. So there is no one “traditional” wedding. But yes, the rituals and traditions at different parts of the country have been held intact.
A Maharashtrian wedding is characterized by a lot of religious rituals and pujas, etc. although these pujas are common with any wedding of the Hindu tradition, to an outsider it would seem like the traditional Maharashtrian wedding is more religious than the others. These religious ceremonies are thought of as a bond strengthening ritual between the bride and groom. So these rituals make the couple vow to stay with each other life after life and even after that. You can also read the article about the south Indian wedding rituals.
One of the first things that will grab your attention with the bride and groom of this ceremony is the headgear that they sport. They wear something called a “mundavalaya” which are nothing but strings of flowers and pearls. These floral head gears are different from the other cultures but they do have something in common – they are worn across all cultures around the country in different shapes and designs.
So this is how the wedding tradition actually begins…
The “Rukhawat” is more like a ritual before the original wedding ritual. In the Indian customs, the woman has to be well adept with the task of cooking, cleaning, artistic pursuits for decorating her home, etc. – at least that was how it was until the last century. So this tradition is for highlighting these qualities of the woman. With Rukhawat, the families can actually show off their daughter’s homely skills to the groom’s family.
The Rukhawat is basically the name of a table. On this table, the art work that the bride has done is place. This shows off that the girl has an artistic side. It also has gifts that the bride will bring to her new home because much like the rest of the world, in India too, the girl moves out to the boy’s house after the wedding. So there will be a lot of essentials and pots and pans, jewelry and trinkets to be displayed at this ceremony.
Today this tradition has got a modern touch. The gifts for the couple are sometimes handmade while the statues which are sacred to the ceremony are displayed. If someone in the family, for example the mother of the bride is good at any art work, those are displayed.
Some of the rituals and ceremonies
- Seemant Puja: This puja ritual is carried out right when the groom and his family enter into the marriage venue or the bride’s home. As soon as the groom arrives, the bride’s family has to wash his feet with clean water and then provide his relatives with gifts. This is it the custom. You can also read the article to know the things required during hindu wedding pooja.
- Ganesh Puja: Ganesh Puja is pretty common in Maharashtra. Also the Lord Ganesha is known for removing all obstacles and to bring forth auspicious beginnings. Hence, the Ganesh Puja to commence the wedding sounds logical. Also the God of good beginnings. Ganesha is pretty important especially for the Maharashtrians. For the puja, the bride, groom, and their parents have to be present.
- Ceremonial Breakfast: again, it is the bride’s family that has to lay out a grand breakfast for the groom’s side of the family. Since the groom’s family used to visit the bride’s home in the previous days. This ritual has still been kept in place. But even now we see that the bride’s family gets up early to get everything ready.
- Gowrihar Puja: This is another puja which is performed by the bride specifically. The bride prays to “Gowri” or Goddess Parvati for attaining happiness in her married life. Rice is placed on the Goddess’ idol’s head and then a mantra is recited. This is done simultaneously when the groom and his family are enjoying the breakfast.
- Antarpat: Now the couple is brought in the mandap where the marriage is taking place. A shawl is placed between the bride and groom so that they do not see each other – they aren’t supposed to see each other until the mantras are recited. Once the mantras are recited the “veil” of the shawl is lifted and they look into each other’s eyes.
- Muhurat: It is called the Muhurat when the veil is lifted and the couple look at each other. The relatives and the guests have to throw rice upon the newlywed couple. Then the ceremony is complete when the couple exchanges garlands. It is called “jai malas” and once they have exchanged their floral garlands, they are declared married.
- Kankana Bandhana: The bride’s brother or any male member from the bride’s side is asked to come to the mandap and draw a cotton thread around the couple. This thread has to form four corners and it has to pass from around the couple. The priest then ties it with a root of turmeric. This is said to ward off evil spirits.
- Kanyadaan: This is literally translated as “giving away the girl”. The bride’s father is supposed to “give away” the bride to the husband. The groom then ties a golden necklace “mangalsutra” around the bride’s neck and applies vermillion (sindoor) on the girl’s scalp. The bride also applies sandalwood tika on the groom’s forehead to seal the marriage.
- Vivaah Hom: the bride and her brother or any cousin or close relative of the bride, along with the groom, light fire on the mandapa “hom” together. This ritual is done mainly to describe that the bride has support from her husband as she enters into holy matrimony. It is also done to keep the fire god “agni” pleased.
- Saptapadhi and Pheras: The pheras as you know are seven rounds around the ceremonial fire. This symbolizes the seven vows and also that the couple are to remain together for the next 7 seven lives. After that a bride has to touch seven beetle nuts with her right foot. This is again done for blessings.
- Knot tying: the bride’s sister unties the knot tied between them while doing the pheras. As a fun tradition, she can ask the groom to be paid off before doing so or she can make the bride and groom say a silly poem.
- Karmasamapti Ritual: To maintain the fun tradition, the bride’s brother or male relative twitches the ear of the groom warning him in a lighthearted way that if he ill-treated his sister, he will face consequences. Often the groom has to bribe the brother to make him let go of the ear.
|1||Drushti||Wards off evil eyes or evil spirits|
|2||Bride and groom carrying a sharp object during the wedding||To avoid any evil eye|
|3||Dakshina||The priest’s dues are paid|
|4||Saptapadhi last step||Symbolizes she needs to be strong like that stone and that he will always support her|