The Vedic wedding rituals, performed in Gujarati marriages, are over five thousand years old. Most of the Gujarati wedding rituals are performed under a beautifully garlanded canopy or Mandap. The four pillars surrounding the four directions of canopy represent the four parents. Gujarati tradition gives utmost reverence to parents’ role in the well-being of their children.
Gujarati weddings are best identified for its symbolic rituals. Like all other cultures, the weddings in Gujarat are ways to solemnize the relationship of a man with a woman. As per Gujarati conventions the bond of marriage makes the wife her husband’s sahdharmacharini or an equal partner. Weddings here are considered as holy affairs. The role of wife is more significant as her role is instrumental in looking after all the household responsibilities.
Pre wedding rituals
Gujarati Pre Wedding Ceremony is the important part of the entire events in a marriage. Both the groom’s and bride’s family individually performs their rituals and customs.
Sagaai- In Engagement or Sagaai ceremony both the families (bride and groom) promise to maintain the relationship. Bride visits with Maatli (a type of container with full of sweets and gifts) as good luck. In this ceremony bride-to-be arrives at the groom-to-be’s place with the matli, a package that represents good luck. The matli is a container which is now often made of steel and contains sweets and gifts for the groom and his family. This symbolizes the bride’s family’s acceptance of the union of their daughter and the groom-to-be. There is then a short ceremony where five women from each side of the family bless the couple-to-be which represents a promise between the two families.
Mandap Muhurat- This is performed before few days of marriage. Pandit performs this pooja at the bride and groom’s place. Both families pray to lord Ganesha for the good fortune of bride and groom’s.
Girah Shanti- This pooja is also done by the Pandit and date and time of the wedding is also decided by matching the horoscope of the to be bride and groom. Pandit performs this pooja for happy married life of the couple.
Garba- This is traditional dance of gujarati’s and here it is performed by the family members. The Garba is usually held the night before the wedding and involves plenty of dancing. It provides the opportunity for the each side of the family to meet, greet and have some fun before the wedding begins. The main event is the Raas which is a dance involving pairs of people and dandia sticks. The dance involves hitting your partner’s sticks while following the rhythm of the music. The Garba is also an ideal place for future couples to meet and begin their own stories.
Pithi- This ceremony is held by the bride and grooms family at their respective places, a day before the wedding. Relatives and friends are invited on this day. Yellow ‘haldi’ powder is applied on the bride and groom’s body by all the relatives, friends and all women in family. The Pithi is used to cleanse the bride and groom before the wedding day. The paste is said to brighten and soften the skin to produce that healthy glow.
Mehndi-On this occasion the bride’s hands and feet are adorned with mehndi, or henna. Female family and friends are also invited to have their hands adorned.
Barat-On the wedding day groom arrives on the horse at the wedding place with their family, relatives and friends. Members and friends enjoy and dance in surrounding on the traditional music. Many grooms choose to arrive on horseback or in a horse and carriage. The Baraat gathers together and everyone dances in celebration. Traditionally Gujarati’s did not marry someone from their own town so the baraat signified the groom entering the bride’s village.
Barat gathers together and everybody dances in celebration. Groom is welcomed by the bride’s family where bride’s mother performs aarti and willfully tries to grab his nose.
Ganesh Pooja- After the groom is welcomed to the mandap the ceremonies starts with prayer of Lord Ganesha who is known as Aaradhya Dev (god of health, wealth and happiness)
Maduparkha-A custom in gujarati wedding where brides father wash grooms feet with honey and milk. At this time that the bride’s sisters will try to steal the groom’s shoes. If his shoes are stolen, then he must offer the bride’s sisters money in order to get back them.
Kanya Aagman- The brides arrive with her mama ( maternal uncle) on mandap. When she comes on the mandap there is curtain between bride and groom which separates them from each other.
Jaimala-After the arrival of bride, the couple exchange garland in the presence of priest. Then the priest begins the ceremony by saying mangalashtak. All relatives clap and enjoy the ceremony.
Kanya Dan-Custom is that parents gives their daughter to the groom. Parents give away their daughter by keeping her hand onto the groom’s hand and saying to the groom live happy with lots blessings.
Hasta Milap- Hasta Milap is a ritual in which the scarf wore by the groom tied to the scarf of bride this is known as meeting of soul. Flowers and rice grains spread on them during this ceremony. The acharya chants mantras to invoke the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Parvati for the bride. The relatives also come together to bless the couple and shower grains of rice and rose petals on them.
Mangal Pheres- In Gujarati Wedding phera’s are not taken in seven times. It is taken only four times. The bride and groom circle the sacred fire four times, signifying the four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Meanwhile, the acharya chants mantras and the groom also recited them. As a fun tradition, at the end of the pheras the bride and groom will run to sit down first. It is said that the one who finds a seat first will rule the house. Brother of bride is asked to put some rice on the hands of bride and groom and pour it in hawan. This ritual is called ‘Mangal Pheras’
Sapta padi-In this ritual groom help the bride to touch seven betel nuts with her right toe by chanting seven mantra in which he request for support from his wife in ups and down in life .
Sindoor Daan-Groom puts red power on brides head and ties mangalsutra around her neck. It symbolize that she is married and belongs to him.
Post wedding rituals
Kansar-The bride and groom feed sweets to each other after all rituals have been done.
Akhandya Sobhagyawati bhava-In this ritual any seven women are called to gives blessings to newly married couple.
Ashirwad-The newlyweds take blessing from elders by touching their feet.
Vidaai- This ceremony sees the departure of the newly married couple and involves tears of joy and sadness. The bride is often carried out by her brothers.
Ghar Ki Laxmi-The bride is welcome in her new home as a laxmi, who will bring prosperity and happiness in their house. Bride is asked to knock down a vessel filled with rice with her right foot. This is a symbol of wealth and the bride accepts her responsibilities towards her new home.
This ritual is known as ‘ghar nu laxmi pravesh.’
Aeki Beki-The couple will then often play a game called Aeki Beki in which a tray of water is mixed with milk and sindoor (vermilion). In this tray are placed several coins and a ring. It is believed that the person who finds the ring four out of seven times will rule the household. The day is concluded with prayers to God requesting happiness and love for the newly married couple.
Bridal wear for a Gujarati Bride
The wedding dress of a Gujarati bride is different from other Indian brides in terms of style and design. Sarees are the most preferred attire for any Gujarati bride, there are two types of Saree for a Gujarati bride, named as ‘Panetar’ and ‘Gharchola’. Panetar, a pure white saree with dotted patterns are printed in green and gold colour. The pallu and a complete border of the Panetar have rich red or maroon patterns all over. It is a simple yet very elegant saree and looks great on a Bride. Gharchola is a maroon or red rich saree woven with silk and zari. This saree is rich in texture, fabric as well as design.
Jewelry- One thing that you will see in abundance is the Golden Jewelry. Necklace set and
Kanni Butti (ear-rings), Nathni (nose rings), Bajubandh (armlet), Bangadi(Bangles) and Chadda (Payal) in legs. However, with the designer Lehenga or the Panetar Chaniya Choli, the matching Imitation Jewelry goes great as well. Necklace studded with pearls and other stones or pendants look dapper on the bride and compliments the bridal look.
Groom’s Attire-A traditional dhoti-kurta is generally worn by all Gujarati grooms during the wedding while a formal suit is always preferred for the reception. As per the tradition, the reception suit is presented to him by the groom’s parents-in-law.