Vivaah Sanskaar- A traditional Hindu Wedding, Part 2

On a Sunday, the actual Hindu wedding ceremony occurs, either under tents at the bride’s home or at a temple. A nuptial bath of milk and scented water is prepared for the bride and for the groom, at their respective homes, in order to remove the hardi paste which had been placed on them two days ago. After this, the bride begins her transformation into the beautifully adorned “Dulahin” (bride), that she will become in a few short hours.

Meanwhile, at the Groom’s home, wedding guests are invited to dine for lunch. Some time after lunch, the Dulaha’s (Groom’s) entourage leaves from his residence and proceeds to the Dulahin’s home.

Guests join the car (or foot) convoy to the Dulahin’s home or to the temple. The Dulaha, accompanied by much fanfare, arrives at the Dulahin’s house, with his procession.

Accompanied by the robust sounds of the tassa; his entourage, headed by his father, greets a group led by the Dulahin’s father.  As a sign of welcome, the Dulahin’s father presents the Dulaha’s father with a lota (brass pitcher) filled with water, five coins, mango leaves and a single flower. A pundit (religious leader) facilitates this symbolic meeting, which is known as the Baraat Milan. 

After this, the Dulahin’s mother and female relatives welcome the Dulaha. They perform Aarti (a symbol of welcome and honour) and scatter rice and flowers around him. This is called the “Parchay.” A purification rite is then done at the entrance of the Dulahin’s home, by her father. The Dulahin’s brother then welcomes the Dulaha by applying a chandan (tika) on his forehead and giving him gifts of coconut, rice, clothing and money. After this, the Dulaha and his entourage are taken to a reception area where the Dulahin’s family offers them hospitality and refreshments.

It is at this point that the Dulahin makes her first public appearance, adorned in a yellow sari and accompanied by her mother, to the altar. She performs pooja (prayers) and the Dulaha’s elder brother gives her gifts of clothing and jewellery. After this, mother and daughter leave and the Dulaha is escorted to the altar, to worship with the Dulahin’s father.

Then comes the long-awaited moment when the Dulaha and Dulahin meet. The Dulahin is now dressed in a red sari and during the Kanyadaan ceremony, a loya (ball) of flour with silver coins inside, is placed in her hands. Her parents then place their hands beneath hers and the Dulaha places his hands beneath theirs. The Dulahin’s parents then ask the Dulaha to accept her and then they offer their blessings for the couple.

During by the Paani Grahan, the Dulaha and Dulahin formally declare their acceptance of each other. Offerings of ghee, gugul, rice, sugar and laawa are made into the fire, prayers are said and the couple circles the sacred fire at the altar, seven times. During the Sapta Padi, the couple take seven steps together in a northerly direction and the marriage becomes complete when the seventh step is taken.

Marriage vows or seven conditions are asked of the Dulahin to the Dulaha. The Dulaha in turn, asks the Dulahin to upkeep five conditions. Once these are said and agreed upon, the Dulahin takes her place to the left side of the Dulaha and they garland each other.

The Sindur Daan, takes place afterwards, when the Dulaha places sindur (vermillion paste) on the parted hair of the Dulahin, under a cloth covering. One of his  married female relatives, completes the process. Wearing sindur is a symbol of being wedded.

This is followed by the blessing and wearing of the rings. The Mangal Sutra Daan follows; and the Dulaha places a Mangal Sutra (marital necklace) around the Dulahin’s neck. The final blessings are then given by the pundit, who chants mantras and sprinkles holy water on the couple. Relatives, in turn, shower them with rice and flowers.

Guests are invited to partake of a vegetarian meal. Some of the appetizers served are phulorie, katchourie and vegetable samosas with various mango, tamarind or pommecythere chutneys. Main courses are traditionally served on banana leaves, which are topped with paratha roti, rice, curried channa and potato, curried mango and chataigne, bodi, pumpkin, karhee, salad and a spicy condiment called “mother-in-law” (a pepper relish with carrots, lime juice, cucumbers and karaille).

Nowadays, unusual dishes are being offered, such as tofu and soya served with pigeon peas, gofta and saheena served in sweet and sour sauce. Dessert of rasgulla, barfi, gulab jamun, ladoo and kurma is presented afterwards to guests, in decorated bags or boxes.  No alcohol is served on the compound.

All of this pomp and ceremony is commonplace today; however, in Trinidad and Tobago, Hindu marriages were not recognised by the State until 1946 – over 100 years after the arrival of the first indentured, Indian labourers to our shores.

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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.