Vivaah Sanskaar- A traditional Hindu Wedding, Part 1
It starts as a far-off, low rumble and as your ears perk up, you begin to hear it clearly – the tassa drums, intermittently rolling and rhythmically pulsating. It signals to all, that the “Friday night” or “maticor night” of a Hindu wedding has started! It’s only just the beginning of a three-day celebration, rich in ceremony and shrouded in tradition.
The “Maticor procession” is intoxicating, not only to hear but to watch…as happy, laughing ladies walk down the street, accompanying a young girl (usually the bride’s or groom’s youngest sister), carrying a tray of Indian sweets on her head. It is indeed an entourage that draws curious onlookers out, to perch over their balconies – all wishing they could be part of the spectacle and camaraderie.
The women move in the direction from the “wedding house,” in search of a river, stand pipe or a Hindu neighbour’s yard pipe. There, married women perform a ritual asking the running water to wash away any evil that may be surrounding the bride. This is accompanied with more tassa drumming, singing of traditional Hindu wedding songs and dancing.
After this, the bride returns to her home, where she sits under a marrow, (a decorated canopy) by a bedi, (an area decorated with mosaic-like patterns of coloured rice and a young banana plant) and prepares for the “hardi ceremony.”
She is then smeared with a paste of grated turmeric root and oil. This is to cleanse her of impurities and make her skin glow for the ceremony. Traditionally, she must stay indoors and must not shower until the wedding. The hardi ceremony also takes place at the groom’s house.
Modern-day Hindu brides also host “mehendi parties” on the Friday night, where women in the bridal party get their hands and palms painted with designs of red-orange henna paste. Today, some Hindu weddings may also incorporate even more aspects of Western culture; for instance, only a one-day Sunday wedding or brides opting to wear white, Western-styled wedding dresses and carry bridal bouquets. Other Western influences manifest in the bride’s outfit colours; which sometimes move away from the traditional yellow and red, towards orange, peach, burgundy, fuchsia, gold, ivory or white.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Saturday night of a Hindu wedding is known as the “Cooking night.” This is when the bride and groom prepare to bid farewell to their single life.
To celebrate, women and men gather to cook dinner for that night and prepare for the following day. Amidst more dancing and festivity, young and old ladies alike, chat with each other as they peel and chop potatoes, chataigne, karaille and pumpkin, at lightning speeds, into large enamel basins. Elsewhere, mammoth paratha rotis are skilfully turned onto enormous tawahs (round iron griddle).
On this night, apart from food preparation, one of the main rituals is the “parching of the laawa.” Laawa (rice paddy), is heated on a flame by a female relative, usually a sister of the father-of-the-bride. The “cooking night” also takes place at the groom’s house. Next week, I’ll feature part 2 of the Hindu Wedding!
For more Hindu Wedding inspiration, visit the TW Pinterest board at this link: http://www.pinterest.com/trinidadwedding/hindu-bride-glam/
Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by pundits or officiants.