Hindu weddings are quite an elaborate affair. However, Maharashtran or Marathi weddings are perhaps the only type of ceremonies which believe in the mantra of less fuss and more enjoyment. The marriage, like any of its Hindu counterparts, starts with the astrologer matching the horoscope of the prospective bride and groom. After the match is fixed and a date declared, the wedding preparations start rolling. These rituals are performed amidst lots of fun and frolic. However, every step of the marriage harks back to the traditional Hindu customs and traditions. Each of these rituals has some inherent significance. It is important to note that unlike other communities, Marathis proceed with most of the wedding rituals during the daytime, particularly in the afternoon.
Pre Wedding customs:
Sakhar Puda: This is the first pre wedding ceremony that takes place. It happens at the bride’s place. Sakhar Puda translates to a packet of sugar. A cone shaped parcel filled with sweet is exchanged between the parties, signifying a sweetness which is to remain in the relationship. The ceremony used to be a homely affair, however, these days; it is organized with a lot of pomp. It ends with the engagement wherein the bride and groom slip in rings in each other’s fingers.
Muhurt Karane: This ceremony takes place months before the wedding on an auspicious day. During this ritual, five Suvasinis or married women pound the dried haldi into fine haldi powder which is to be applied on the bride’s body during the Haldi ceremony. The haldi is pounded with iron pestles that are tied with mango leaves.
Kelvan: This takes place a couple of days before marriage. The relatives of both the parties are invited to their respective homes where the parents present the bride and groom with expensive presents like gold and silverware.
Halad Chadavane: This ceremony takes place on the morning of the wedding. The five Suvasinis apply the prepared Haldi paste on the feet, knees, shoulders and the forehead of the bride. Each woman applies the paste three times. The same ritual takes place at the home of the bridegroom, as well.
Simant Pujan: Simant means boundary and this ritual happens at the boundary of the bride’s home where the bride’s mother washes the groom’s feet, applies tilak and welcomes him with sweetmeats. The groom’s mother gifts sarees and jewelry to the bride.
The wedding begins officially with an elaborate worship of the lord Ganesh on both the bride and the groom’s sides. Along with this, the ceremony of Kuldevata Sthapana happens where the god of the family is invoked and asked for blessings for the welfare of the couple.
Lagna Muhurt: The groom is made to wear a topi and a mundavalya is tied around his forehead. He stands on a wooden plank. The bride is ushered by her maternal uncle. Both the bride and the groom have a garland on their hands. There is a screen partitioning them so that they can’t see each other’s face. This screen is called antarpat. The priest chants the Mangalashtaka which is verses invoking Gods and asking for blessings for the married couple. Towards the end of the Mangalashtaka, the partition is removed and the groom and the bride put garlands around each other’s neck. The bride’s mother is not supposed to be hearing the Mangalashtaka and so she is absent from the ceremony.
Kanyadan: This is the official ceremony where the father gives away his daughter to her husband. The bride and groom promise each other eternal love and bonding. Then the Lakhsmi Narayan Puja is performed where the couple is regarded as deities. After this is done, a thread is tied to each other’s hands, which is called Kankan Bandhane.
Mangalasutrabandham: Amidst the chanting of slokas, the groom ties a thread of black beads around the neck of the bride. This is called tying of the mangalasutra- the auspicious thread.
Vivah Hom and Lajja Hom: In this ritual, the groom pours ghee on the sacred fire and prays to the Gods of fire for long lasting marital bliss and blessings for the continuation of the family’s legacy. This is the Vivah Hom. Then both the groom and the bride join their palms and puts in the ghee in the sacred fire, all the chanting mantras narrated by the priest. This is the Lajja Hom.
Saptapadi: This is where the bride and the groom take seven rounds around the fire to confirm the marital vows they had just recited. They put the right foot forward first. The groom holds the bride’s left hand with his left hand. With every round, they pray for certain needs to the fire God. The seven needs are food, power, wealth, contentment, offspring, the pleasure of enjoying various seasons and never-ending friendship. The couple stands in front of each other and touch their foreheads which signifies that they would both take equal stands in the marital relationship that is about to begin. As a humorous touch to the whole proceeding, the bride’s brother twists the groom’s right ear as a way of reminding him about his responsibilities towards his sister.
Thus the wedding ceremony reaches the end. The bride and groom touch the feet of the elders and seek blessings.
Post wedding customs: Grihaprabesh is the first post wedding custom that happens where the bride has to enter the house by knocking down a kalash of rice which is kept at the threshold. It indicates that this bride is the avatar of Goddess Lakshmi and she will bring lots of success, wealth and prosperity to the home of the groom. After the bride and groom sit down the groom places the idol of Parvati on a plate of rice on which he traces the name of the bride with his fingers. After this, the groom’s mother sits between the couple and she witnesses the face of the bride via a mirror. This ritual is called soonmukh baghane.
A day after the wedding, a reception party is organized where the guests come with gifts and is served delicious food. In the reception, the bride is decked with clothes and ornaments presented from her husband’s family and the groom wears clothes gifted by his in-laws.