This is the post on the most important day of the celebrations – The Wedding.
All days during wedding celebrations start with a puja. And so did this day. But, this puja was even more special, it being the day of the marriage – Purwang was celebrated.
Purwang is celebrated on the morning of the marriage. The bride’s parents keep a fast, and puja is done. In Purwang, after the bride’s ubtan/haldi, the bride’s father ties a small yellow / pink cloth piece (called Kankan) on the left wrist of the bride. A similar piece of cloth is tied on the left wrist of the bride’s mother, and to the groom’s right wrist. The cloth piece contains one whole beetle nut, turmeric piece, coins, Akshat (whole rice)and Roli. These cloth pieces are opened on the fourth day of marriage.
Didi had accessorized herself with marigold flowers. A beautiful idea, don’t you think?
After the initial puja, the Haldi ceremony was held. A Rangwali pichauda (described in Day 1 post) was held above didi’s head by her sisters, and everyone took turns applying a little haldi (turmeric) on her.
Application of haldi is an age-old way of beautification. Haldi, which has antiseptic qualities, also acts as a protective shield against cuts, bruises and any other seasonal ailments. Application of haldi also adds a natural glow to the skin.
When you are applying the haldi paste, you have to apply it on five places – the feet, knees, arms, hands, and face – starting from the feet.
After Haldi, the Purwang puja was completed by tying the cloth pieces described earlier in this post.
With the morning celebrations finished, everyone got ready for the wedding ceremony and headed to the hotel where the wedding would take place.
The traditional kumaoni wedding dress is a blue & pink ghaghra choli, topped with a Rangwali pichauda. But these days, kumaoni brides are willing to experiment with the colours and even designs of their wedding dress. Didi’s dress was a beautiful red and blue ghaghra choli with golden embellishments.
Then came the time for the baaraat’s arrival. The “Baarat” (or the marriage procession) is the procession of the groom, with his family and friends, to the site of the wedding. The procession is often accompanied by a music band, which provides them with entertainment, while on their way to the venue.The groom’s friends and family are called the baaraatis, and they dance to the tunes played by the band.
The baaraatis are greeted at the venue by the bride’s side. The girls from our side gave women in the baaraat roses, while the men in the baaraat were welcomed with garlands by boys.
The welcoming of the groom and the following aarti are also called as Dhuliargh. “Dhuliargh” means ‘a ceremony conducted at a time when the cows are returning home’. When the marriage party reaches the brides house, the bride’s brother receives him and uses a red umbrella to escort him to the spot where the marriage ceremonies are to take place.
Earlier, the bridegroom’s procession usually walked to the bride’ s place and so they arrived with dusty feet. So, the groom’s dust covered feet were washed before the puja welcoming him began. This ritual still continues and the groom’s feet are washed while he stands on a Chowki, or a small stool, on which the Aipan (described in Day 1 post) specific to the ceremony are made.
Then, the mother of the bride applies tilak on groom’s forehead and performs aarti to ward off any evil.
This is also the time when the bride’s sisters hide the shoes taken off by the groom for the ceremony. ( The “Joota Chupai” made famous by movies). The groom’s side tries their best to not let the bride’s sisters steal the shoes. Later, when the time comes to return the shoes, the sisters return them for some money.
Below is the photo of the place where the groom was received and aarti was done. I had taken the photo well before the baaraat’s arrival, when the pandit was patiently waiting it out.
Then, it was time for the jaimala/varmala. While the groom was eagerly waiting for his bride on the stage of the jaimala venue, didi entered the venue under a sheet of flowers (phoolon ki chaadar). “Phoolon ki chaadar” is part of the Punjabi wedding tradition, but many north Indian weddings now incorporate it. The bride’s brothers hold the chaadar over her head while her sisters accompany her to the venue.
Didi’s entry in the venue was almost similar to that of a christian bride in a church. She walked to the stage, accompanied by her brothers,and her sisters/bridesmaids who threw flowers on the floor in front of her (like flower girls), with the Punjabi folk song ‘Din Shagna Da’ playing in the background. The song is very beautiful and I am sharing the version played during the wedding as well as its newer rendition by The Wedding Filmer.
Once didi was on stage, the couple exchanged garlands. The exchange of garlands is called Jaimala/Varmala, and it signifies mutual acceptance of both the bride and the groom towards each other.
After Jaimala, guests came up to the stage to congratulate the couple, and then proceeded to have the dinner arranged for them in the hotel.
The Kanyadaan ceremony followed, after the couple had had dinner, with only family and close friends attending the event. The literal meaning of ‘Kanyadaan’ is ‘giving a girl away’. I do not subscribe to the thought behind this ceremony. The girl is not going anywhere. She’s always going to be your daughter and you are adding to your family a new set of people, not removing someone. Also, you cannot “give away” any human being.
In Kanyadaan, the bride and groom along with their respective families, sit separated by a makeshift curtain. After the various chants and procedures, the bride leaves her side to sit on the other side with her husband. The elders bless the couple, and then the bride and groom proceed to the “mandap” to complete the marriage ceremony with the ‘saat pheras’.
The time at the mandap was fun, complete with ‘games’ for the bride and groom. We didn’t even realize the phere were going on until the 4th or 5th phera because didi was throwing rice using ‘soop’ around the fire during the phere, and it seemed like a game.
Ghee and grains were offered to the fire, prayers were chanted, the mangalsutra tied, and sindoor applied to didi’s ‘maang’, and the couple became husband and wife.
The couple ate ladoos from each others hands, and the pandit, jokingly calling the ladoo “shaadi ka ladoo”, asked didi to give some of it to each of us who were ‘next-in-line’. This again reminded me of the christian tradition of the bride throwing the flower bouquet to the ‘next-in-line’ girls.
One thing i know now is that i love weddings (just like how the main character’s wife in “Five people you meet in Heaven” loved weddings) . They are so full of love, joy, and happiness. Weddings are beautiful!
To read about the ceremonies held in the following days, click on the links below.
Day 5 : Vidaai