Mention of an Indian wedding creates an image of extravagant celebration with a lot of pomp and show. No matter which community is engaged, marriages in India are not just an emotional affair but they call for a great celebration which incorporates a lot of ancient traditions and rituals. Just like various castes have different wedding attires, many communities follow unusual rituals in the wedding ceremonies. You will be perplexed by the sheer diversity in the wedding rituals. While some rituals have a deep meaning hidden in them, some have a fun element to them. Here are the most quirky wedding rituals celebrated in India-
Weddings in Bihar-
This slightly scary ritual is followed after the wedding ceremony in many parts of Bihar. In Bihari weddings, the skills of the newlywed bride are tested the moment she steps in her new home. A huge earthen pot is placed on the head of the bride by her mother-in-law. Then, a number of pots are added to create a pile and the bride is supposed to balance these pots while simultaneously touching the feet of her elders. The deep significance of this ritual lies in the fact that balancing of pots symbolizes the bride’s ability to balance her responsibilities and duties in the new life she has started.
Weddings in Sarsaul-
Sarsaul is a small town in Uttar Pradesh near Kanpur and displays a rather funny sight during the tribal weddings here. In most parts of India, the groom and his family are welcomed by showers of rose petals and Gulab jal, but the sight here is candidly funny. In the town of Sarsaul, the groom and his family are welcomed by hurling tomatoes. This rather unusual way of showing hospitality to the bride’s family signifies a deep ideology. People here believe that a relationship that starts on an unhappy note often leads to a loving affair.
Weddings in Gujarat-
Gujarati weddings seem to have quite a few quirky rituals. Their wedding ceremonies are initiated by welcoming the groom, which is done in a ceremony called ‘Ponkvu’ or ‘Ponkhana’. According to this ritual, the groom is welcomed by his mother-in-law, who welcomes him by an aarti and then pulls his nose playfully. This ritual is a gentle reminder given by the bride’s family to the groom to be gentle and humble as he has come to ask for the bride’s hand. Another unusual ritual celebrated in Gujarati weddings is called ‘Madhuparka’. This is a ritual where the bride’s family welcomes the groom by washing his feet with a mixture of milk and honey. The groom is then supposed to drink this potion if he wants an entry to the mandap.
Malayalis are probably the most punctual of all people and are really finicky about the auspicious time. Interestingly, this time is not when the actual wedding ceremony starts but the time when they leave for the wedding venue. Also, unlike most of the Indian weddings, Malayali weddings are completed by three pheras around the holy Vedic fire in contrast with the usual seven.
One can experience unusual and bizarre sights in a Sindhi wedding as well. Their wedding ceremonies are kick-started by a ceremony known as ‘Saanth’. After this, seven married women pour oil on the bride and groom’s head; after which both of them have to wear a new shoe on their right foot and break an earthen pot with it. This is supposed to signify the breaking of old bonds by the couple. The ceremony ended with the groom’s relatives tearing off his cloth to ward off evil. All this is supposed to be a good omen.
The northeastern states of India also showcase some really unusual rituals during their wedding festivities. In Manipuri culture, fishes play a very significant role. During Manipuri wedding ceremonies, one woman from groom’s side and one from the bride’s side release one taki fish each in a nearby pond. If the fishes move side by side, then it is considered as a good sign. Here releasing of the fish signifies releasing of an evil spirit.
The ‘Ghada Gharauli’is a very celebrated ritual in Punjabi weddings and is considered a sacred one. The bride’s mother, sibling and brother’s wife are supposed to fetch water from a nearby temple in a beautifully decorated pitcher. The bride then bathes in this holy water before wearing her ‘shagun ka joda’.
Weddings in Assam-
Assamese weddings have a ritual known as ‘Tel Diya’, according to which the groom’s mother places a beetle leaf on the bride’s hair and then applies oil thrice. After this, she provides the bride with sindoor and her wedding outfit, which is the traditional attire known as ‘Mekhla Chadar’. Also, the Rabha tribe of Assam is famous for having the simplest of weddings. Their weddings are marked with the mere exchange of garlands and a lavish spread for the guests to indulge in.
In Bengali weddings, all the married women from the bride’s family rise early at dawn and perform Ganga aarti to invite the goddess to the wedding and bless their daughter. The holy river is supposed to ward off any evil and keep the bride happy in her new life. Also, Bengali weddings do not involve the presence of the bride and groom’s mothers. It is supposed to be a good omen for the couple.
Tamil Brahmin Weddings-
In Tamil weddings, the rituals are a little dramatic. The groom is supposed to have a change of mind, right before entering the mandap. It is followed by the ritual known as ‘Kasi Yatra’ wherein the father of the bride reaches out to the groom and tries to convince him to take up family life by marrying his daughter. Quirky and uncommon things like the hand fan, sandals or an umbrella are used to lure him back. Though the chances of a groom leaving his mandap are quite low, some people perform this traditional ceremony at their weddings to keep in touch with their roots. This has to be the most unusual and bizarre wedding rituals.
Kumaoni weddings use a quite unusual prop, flags. The white flag, known as ‘Nishan’ represents the groom and leads the baraat procession while the red flag represents the bride and hence runs around the beautiful bride. The baraat of the groom is traditionally led by a white flag to represent the groom and the last man in the procession holds a red flag and represents the bride.
Usual or unusual, these traditional rituals are a way of connecting ourselves to our roots and they often add a playful and fun element to the elaborate celebrations during a wedding. These rituals provide distinctiveness to the lavish and spectacular Indian weddings.