No matter where ever you go, you can never ignore your roots. Though I am not a Maharashtrian, their rituals, as well as their marriage, always fascinated me. Maharashtrians originated from the Western state of Maharashtra, and are a very diverse people that have roots everywhere, that is, from India to the Middle East. They hail from many sub-castes prevailing in the domain. The Maharashtrians are very traditional and pious. Maharashtrian brahmin wedding are, very simple yet very vibrant in culture. There are many different cultures as well as groups within the state of Maharashtra, each wedding is to be different. But, some of the traditional Maharashtrian weddings have the collection of rituals and traditions which are followed without fail.
Origins of Maharashtrian brahmin wedding
Shivaji, the warrior king, brought many types of political concepts as well as traditions in India during his rule. He introduced many organizational concepts such as advisory cabinets, and he was also responsible for the growth of the navy and the military during those days.
The strict adherence of the Maratha’s to the organizations and traditions can be seen in all the Maharashtrian weddings now-a-days. Starting from the pre-wedding puja to the post-wedding prayers, religion as well as the orders are practiced all throughout the ceremony.
Cultural Values of Maharashtrian brahmin wedding
The growth of the Maratha power as well as influence from the 17th century, Maharashtrians tends to be the strongest supporters of the religious values and traditions. They celebrate the holidays from the Hindu calendar with pujas and Maharashtrian foods and sweets.
Maharashtrian brahmin wedding, even now-a-days, are known for the adherence to the astrological horoscopes to determine the bride and the groom, pair and what days are auspicious for their marriage ceremony.
Maharashtrian Hindu wedding ceremonies are both similar as well as different to other Hindu weddings across India. Maharashtrians do follow many similar religious rituals like the pherase, kanyadaan, and saptpadi, but they also have many other pre-wedding rituals that are not common in any other communities.
One of the most common and noted differences is the bride’s sari. In India it is common to wear red, white or even green. Maharashtrian’s traditional bridal saree is of golden orange, or marigold or mango colored sari. The sari can be of 9 yards or a nauvari or six, but it is mostly their dressing style that one can immediately recognize a Maharashtrian brahmin wedding.
Maharashtrian Brahmin Pre-wedding Rituals
Matching the Stars
When the match is done, traditionally speaking, the respective families come to an agreement on their match. Based on the compatibility between the boy and the girl, the supremely delicate task of ascertaining the compatibility by the stars takes the vital significance in the Maharashtrian brahmin wedding. The patrikas or the horoscope of the boy and girl are shown to the family pundits or the priest for their consideration. The Brahmins deliberate on the important feature of Guna Milan or matching points. If 16 or more gunas match, then only the boy and girl must tie the knot. The proposition that the ‘marriages are made in heaven’ it is ratified only if the grahas or the heavenly bodies are in the unison. Once, when it has been determined that both the horoscopes are in sync, then the actual preparations for a wedding will begin.
It begins with Baithak, as the name suggests, is the semi-formal meeting of the elders from both the families. The parents, as well as the close relatives, gather together and discuss as well as decide the various crucial issues regarding the wedding ceremony. It is here when the actual Muhurat or the auspicious date and time of the marriage ceremony is decided.
Sakharpuda, or the engagement ceremony, is being held a few days before the wedding. For the engagement, the groom’s parents give the bride a saree as token of acceptance to their family. Her arms are adorned with green glass bangles, which symbolizes her engagement. After that she is given a packet of sakhar puda or sugar, which also symbolizes the spread of sweetness into their lives. Invitation cards are then traditionally printed after the ceremony.
A couple of days before the main wedding, a feast known as Kelvan is organized in both the bride’s and the groom’s home. Each side hosts a grand meal for the entire family that is being gathered at home.
The first event is the puja or the worship of the Kuladevta or also known as the family deity. This ceremony is basically performed in the evening before the wedding, Wang-nischay, or the engagement, is then confirmed in separate ceremonies held in both the home. The women in the family wear glass bangles. Then they pay the obeisance to the respective family deity, kuldevta, in the form of kuldevta-poojan.
Later, both the sides meet at a short engagement ceremony, which is conducted by the priest, followed by the wang-nischay meal. This meal is not as grand as the meal of the wedding, but it is equally lavish.
Every Maharashtrian family has this type of a deity which believes in tying the family to their ancestors or even to the village of the family’s origin. During this Puja, ancestors are also adorned with new clothes, flowers, and sweets, offered before their portraits.
Haldi is another special custom to a Maharashtrian brahmin wedding. The groom and the bride have their celebrations, respectively at their homes. Women from each of the family get together to apply the mixture of the turmeric, sandalwood paste to the face as well as the body of the groom and the bride. The youngest person to be married has a ceremonial bath and is also not allowed to go out of the home after the ceremony. Haldi is considered a purifier as well as have an antiseptic substance for every Indian wedding.
Simant means boundary. At the boundary of the bride’s home or her village, the groom and the marriage party are welcomed by her mother, who does puja of the groom. Now-a-days, it is mostly done on the wedding day itself at the place of the marriage. Bride’s mother generally washes off the groom’s feet by pouring a little water over his feet on a plate, does the kumkum tilak, puts the akshata on the groom’s head, do the arati and gives some sweet to eat. The groom is then made to sit in a place and the bride’s father gives some gifts, like a piece of clothing and jewelry to the groom. Groom’s mother as well as other women go to the bride’s home and give her saris and jewelry.
Maharashtrian Brahmin Wedding Rituals
The auspicious Maharashtrian brahmin wedding ceremony begins with a Ganpatipujan and a prayer is being performed for Lord Ganesh’s blessing to take the wedding without any problems or obstacles. This prayer is then being performed at both the groom’s as well as bride’s quarters.
Wedding muhurat and rituals
A silk shawl called Antarpat is used to separate the bride as well as the groom. The maternal uncle of the bride then brings her to the dais, where the mangalashtakas are recited. Then the shawl is being removed and the couple sees each other and interchanges the garlands. At this moment they are being showered with uninterrupted rice. After this, the couple then asks their parents for their permission to get wed. This ceremony is called the Sankalp. After this, the Kanyadaan ritual is being performed by the bride’s parents, wherein they offer the daughter to the groom.
After the Kanyadaan ritual is over, the groom ties the mangalsutra around the bride’s neck and applies the vermillion in the hair parting. She in return, then applies the sandalwood tilak on the groom’s forehead.
Next is the Vivah Homa rituals, which is basically conducted by the groom in assistance with the pundit or the priest. Following it is the Saptapadhi ritual, where the couple takes the seven rounds around the sacred fire, taking the seven vows. The marriage ceremony, then comes to an end with the Karmasampati ritual, where the bride’s father, the bride as well as the groom please Gods to bless on their marriage.
The guest is received as well as welcomed at the doorway by some of the elders from both of the families along with applying the perfume from an attardani, or on the back of the right hand of the guests, and rose water is also sprinkled from gulabdani and then welcome sweet are distributed.
Maharashtrian Brahmin Post Wedding Rituals
Grihapravesh is the very first ritual that is conducted after the marriage. The groom’s mother then welcomes the new couple and washes their feet with milk as well as water. After the traditional aarti is being performed and the bride is asked to enter the house, she knocks down a glass of rice, that is being kept at the entrance. Then the couple enters the house with their right foot forward. Last but not the least the reception party organized, where splendid food is being served to the guests.