Gujarati Wedding Ceremony
Patels or Patidars of Gujarat are ambitious, intelligent, hardworking,
hospitable and excessive spenders on occasions like marriages. Their
weddings are arranged on a grand scale and are bright and colourful.
The bride and groom receive huge amounts of clothes and jewellery and
the groom is given cash gifts at almost each ceremony; in fact after
each 'Parikrama' (Circumvention around the sacred fire) his palms are
crossed with gold!
Chandlo Maatli: Acceptance of the alliance
The 'chandlo' (applying the vermilion mark on the forehead)
announces the acceptance of the alliance between the two families and
the consent of the bride and groom to come together in holy matrimony.
'Chandlo' is the 'tikka' and 'maatli' is the clay container in which 'mithais'
(sweetmeats) were packed in the olden days. The bride's father and four
other male members from her family visit the groom carrying auspicious
items and the bride's father applies the 'chandlo' on the groom's
forehead and gives him a 'shakun' (a blessing symbolized by a token sum
An astrologer is consulted and the wedding date is fixed. The 'chandlo
maatli' ceremony is usually followed by a high tea or dinner.
Ganesh Sthapan: Commencement of all marriage rituals
Lord Ganesha is always the first deity to be propitiated at any
significant event. His blessings are invoked before the preparations
begin for the wedding so that no obstacles present themselves and all
This 'puja' is attended by close family members and is performed in both
homes simultaneously on an auspicious day. After the 'puja' a vegetarian
meal sans onion and garlic is served along with a sweet called 'khansaar'.
Mehendi: The henna ceremony
This is an intimate gathering of the bride's female relatives and close
friends two days before the wedding. 'Mehendi' (henna) is ground into a
paste and applied by professional 'mehendiwallis' (henna artists) in
fine patterns on the palms and feet of the bride. Songs specific to the
occasion are sung and lunch is served.
Garba & Dandia Raas: Traditional Gujarati dances
On the evening of the 'mehendi' family and friends gather together
dressed in traditional finery and sing and dance to the beat of the 'dhol'
(drum). The women form a circle to dance the graceful 'garba' and the
men join in later in an energetic 'dandia raas' (dandias are sticks).
Prenuptial ceremonies - Broken into
Decorated Wedding Mandap Mandva Mahurat: Constructing the
canopy for the wedding rites
A day before the wedding, Lord Ganesha is worshipped once again, this
time his blessings are sought for the ground on which the wedding canopy
will be installed. Though family and close friends attend the 'mandva
mahurat', only the women of the household observe the 'puja'.
The 'pujari' performs a brief 'puja' at the shrine inside the house then
puts 'tikka' on the foreheads of five men from the family. He goes on to
give them a small stick with 'nada chari' (red thread) wrapped around
it. The men link their hands and carry this to the site of the 'mandva'
and embed it into the earth. This stick is symbolic of one of the poles
of the 'mandva', which will support the canopy.
Pithi: Beautification Rituals
A shrine is arranged with a picture of Lord Ganesh set in it.
The bride sits on a 'bajat' or low stool, palms upturned. It is the
prerogative of the 'kaaki' (paternal uncle's wife) to mix the 'Pithi' (a
paste of sandalwood powder, herbs, rosewater and 'German mogro' (a type
of 'attar' or perfume). She then arranges the 'Pithi' on a decorated
platter and has it blessed by the priest.
The women of the household apply the 'Pithi' on the bride's skin. The
bride keeps this on until the next ceremony (the 'Griha Shanti') is
A small ceremony called the 'Ookarhi Nautarvi' is conducted after the 'Pithi'
wherein the 'Kaaki' places an iron nail, a whole 'Supari' (betel nut)
and a one-rupee coin in a shallow hole dug by the 'Pujari'. This is done
to ensure that no evil spirits enter the venue of the wedding.
Griha Shanti: Invoking harmony within the planets
This is a very important religious ceremony. Both sets of parents are
the primary figures in the invocation. On behalf of the parents, the
officiating priests ask the deities to ensure stellar harmony and peace
during the period of their son and daughter's wedding.
The bride takes a coconut to her parents who are seated on 'Patlas' (low
stools) in front of the sacred fire and seats herself beside them. While
the priest is performing the 'Puja', which can take up to two hours -
she hands this 'Shriphal' (coconut) to her parents, who in turn hand it
over to the priest for 'Aahuti' (sacrifice). The coconut is consigned to
flames, thus propagating peace and harmony between all the nine planets.
Similar ceremonies are conducted in the groom's home.
Mama escorts bride
to the Mandap Mameru or Mosaalu: The bride receives gifts from her
The custom of 'Mameru' originated centuries ago when there were no legal
rights existing for daughters. It was customary for the parents to start
making provisions for their daughter by gifting her with things on
'Rakshabandhan' or 'Bhaibheej'. These gifts accumulated as 'Streedhan'
When the girl grows up and gets married, the 'mama' or maternal uncle
comes with the 'Mameru' consisting of clothes, jewellery and other gifts
items including the traditional 'Paanetar' (silk wedding sari - usually
white with red border) and 'Chooda' (ivory bangle - now replaced with
acrylic or plastic). The 'Mameru' ceremony takes place one day before
Varghodo: The Groom's Procession
On the evening of the wedding, the groom, dressed in all his finery and
carrying a 'Katar' (small dagger) prepares to leave for the wedding
venue. The priest gives the groom's sister a small bowl wrapped in cloth
and containing coins on which the Hindu Swastika has been etched. She
rattles this over her brother's head to ward off the evil eye and also
to warn him that even though he is getting married, he must not forget
The groom's father's sister-in-law garlands him and gives him a cluster
of flowers. After being blessed by all he mounts a richly caparisoned
mare and leaves for the wedding venue accompanied by his relatives and
Var Ponke: Welcoming the groom
The bride's mother receives the groom and his 'baraat' (procession) at
the entrance of the wedding venue. She performs the traditional 'aarti'
for the groom, applies the 'kumkum' (vermilion) and rice 'tikka' on his
Before the groom can enter the premises, he is made to step onto a 'bajat'
(low stool) where the bride's mother performing the 'aarti' and applying
the 'tikka' for him once again accords him a ceremonial welcome. The
clusters of flowers given to him earlier by his aunt are now exchanged
for a coconut decorated with red thread.
One of the groom's aunts goes inside to call on the bride who is
worshipping at the shrine of Lord Ganesha and presents her with the 'kanya
shelu' (a platter with a sari, some jewellery, pretty slippers, and a 'mangalsutra'
made from black beads and strung on red thread). This is the last gift
she receives as a maiden. The sari is draped around her shoulders, the 'mangalsutra'
tied around her neck and she is led outside to receive her groom.
The bride garlands the groom signaling her acceptance of him as her
husband and is led back inside the shrine to continue her worship of
The bride's mother places two clay pots filled with rice on the ground
and the groom breaks them before entering the wedding 'mandva'.
Lagna: The wedding ceremony -
divided into following segments:
Varmala: The couple exchanges garlands
The bride's 'mama' (maternal uncle) escorts her to the 'mandva' where
she garlands the groom and he reciprocates. She now sits facing him.
Hast Medap The priest puts the 'tikka' on both their foreheads and
Kanyadaan: Giving away the bride
The bride's parents apply 'tikka' on the couple and the bride's father
performs the 'kanyadaan'.
This is done by tying the hands of the bride and groom together in a
marital knot known as the 'Hast Melaap'. The bride's right hand is placed
in the groom's right hand and they both reach out over the unlit fire
below. With this gesture the father of the bride symbolizes this
promise; " I offer you this most precious gift of my daughter to take as
your own, to cherish and to protect."
The bride's mother connects the couple by tying the 'Varmaala' (a length
of sacred red thread) across them and looping it like a garland over
their hands. After the ceremony the 'Varmaala' is removed and put around
the bride's neck like a garland.
Mangal Pheras: Circumventions around the sacred fire
The 'Pujari' lights the sacred fire amidst Vedic chants. The
couple circles the fire four times. The groom leads the bride the first
three times and the fourth time he is led by her. These circumventions
are called 'Mangal Pheras'. After the last 'Phera' there is a small
tussle to see who gets back to the seat first!
Saptapadi: Seven steps around the sacred fire
After the 'Mangal Pheras' the couple takes the seven steps around the
fire and with each step a vow is taken. After the completion of all
these ceremonies the couple is seated and blessed by all with the
showering of rice.
Vadava Vanu: Bridal send off
The bride bids a tearful farewell to her parents, family and friends.
The 'Pujari' performs a small 'Puja' for the decorated car by applying 'Tikka'
to the hood. The bride's mother breaks a coconut in front of the car,
invoking blessings for a safe journey for the couple. The bride and
groom leave accompanied by at least three others (it is necessary to
have a minimum of five people in the car). The bride's brother usually
escorts her to her new home.
Var Ghodyu Pokvanu Che: Welcoming the bride into her
The newly weds are received by the groom's mother and sisters. The
groom's mother performs a small 'Aarti' and puts the traditional 'Tikka'
on their foreheads. She also gifts her daughter-in-law a piece of
Reception: Post wedding celebrations
This is an event borrowed from the West and is not mandatory. The
reception can be as simple or as elaborate an affair as desired by the
families. The purpose is to introduce the bride and groom as a married