Gujarati Wedding is one of the most interesting wedding ceremonies in India. Like other Indian Wedding Ceremonies, the Gujarati Wedding Ceremony is full of several traditional rituals and customs. These traditional customs hold a deep meaning and regard for the Gujarati families. Performed with a great pomp and show, the Gujarati Wedding Ceremonies are vibrant and amusing. Generally held at night, the typical wedding affairs take almost an entire night to wrap up. The Wedding ceremony is followed by Ashirwaad and Vidai. Here is the systematic list of the traditional rituals in a Gujarati Marriage.
The arrival of the groom and his family is called Ponkvu. It is actually the official beginning of the Gujarati wedding. The groom is welcomed by his mother-in-law by aarti. She also playfully tries to grab his nose at the entrance. This tradition is basically meant for an amusing welcome. However, the quoted reason behind this ceremony is to remind the groom that he has come rubbing his nose at the girl’s door asking for her hand from her parents.
Jaimala is the formal introduction of bride and groom on a stage. It involves the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom twice. First time, the groom is on a higher platform than the bride, while, the second time, they are at an equal level.
After the Jaimala, Madhuparka ceremony is performed. In the Madhuparka ceremony, groom's feet are washed to make feel special, cared and superior. Also, he is given honey and milk to drink as a token of love. While this ceremony is going on, the bride's sisters try to steal the groom's shoes, known as 'Juta Churai'.
Kanya Agamana is the beginning of the marriage on the serious note with the traditional customs and rituals solemnized by a Pundit. The bride is brought to the mandap by her maternal uncle. At the Mandap, there is an antarpaat (curtain) which separates her from her groom. As the Pundit begins chanting the mantras, the antarpaat is lowered and the couple exchanges garlands in front of the sacred fire.
One of the most important wedding rituals, Kanya daan is followed right after Knaya Agamana. It is a ceremony, in which the bride's father washes the groom's feet and gives his daughter's hand to him in the hope that he will take good care of her. The bride is considered to be a form of Goddess Laxmi and the bridegroom is considered to be Lord Narayana. Kanya daan is performed in front of the sacred fire, facilitating the pious union of the boy and girl.
Hasta Milap ceremony performed after Kanya Daan has a lot of significance. It involves the tying of the groom's scarf or shawl to the bride's sari. The tying of knot and the joined hands of the couple are symbolic of the meeting of two hearts and souls. The acharya or the priest chants mantras and seeks the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Parvatiji for the couple. The family and relatives witness the conduct of the ceremony and come forward to bless the bride and groom. They sprinkle rose petals and rice grains on them.
After Hasta Milap, Mangal Pheras are performed. Mangal Pheras are rounds that the couple takes around the sacred fire, as the priest chants mantras. It also involves the reciting of mantras by the groom that expresses his genuine and heartiest desire to seek his wife's loving support. In Gujarati marriage, there are four mangal pheras, which represent "Dharma", "Artha", "Kama" and "Moksha".
Saptapadi is an important step of any Hindu marriage. In a typical Gujarati Marriage, the groom helps the bride in touching the seven betel nuts with her right toe, while both of them recite the seven vows for their commitment towards each other. At each step of the Saptapadi, the groom asks for support from his bride throughout his life.
This is a way to bless the newly wedded couple. In this tradition, seven married women from the bride’s family whisper good wishes and blessings in the right ear of the bride. They bless her to remain a Saubhagyavati i.e. lucky throughout her life.
The Chero Pakaryo is an exclusive Gujarati custom. It is a kind of amusement after the serious traditional ritual. In this custom, the groom is made to tug the sari of his mother in law as she passes from the Mandap in way that it looks he is asking the bride’s family for gifts.
After all the wedding rituals are over, the couple seeks the blessing of every senior member of the family present at the marriage. They are then blessed with gifts and other auspicious items.