Kashmiri Pandits, who originally belonged to the picturesque valley of Kashmir have a rich culture and peaceful traditions that they have managed to maintain for more than five thousand years. Kashmiri was traditionally written in the Sharda Script which is not that commonly used now except for religious ceremonies like Birthday pooja, wedding pooja, etc. that are performed by a Kashmiri Pandit Priest. Herath (Shivratri), Khetchmavas, Navreh, are a few of the many Primary festivals celebrated by the Kashmiri Hindus.
Every Indian wedding is a big affair, but a Kashmiri Pandit wedding is a whole festival in itself. From scrumptious cuisine to the attire of the bride and groom, the Kashmiri Pandit wedding will be an experience that you would want to treasure in your memories forever.
The Pre Wedding Rituals:
Kasamdry is a ceremony that is usually held at a temple. It is similar to the Roka ceremony, where the elders of the family exchange a bouquet and perform pooja to formally acknowledge the new alliance. The Bua of bride and groom prepares a traditional savoury rice pudding which is also known as Vaer. After the Kasamdry, Gandun or the engagement ceremony takes place on one of the many auspicious dates and times suggested by the priest. The exchange of fruits, gifts, dry fruits, sweets, etc takes place after the ring ceremony.
Saath Livun is an age-old tradition that started when people used to live in houses made of mud and bricks, but this is still performed today. It is a symbolic cleansing of the whole house to mark the start of the auspicious wedding functions. After cleaning the house, the pooja of the wedding invitation cards is performed. After the pooja, the first invitation is given to the Nana-Nani of both, the bride and the groom. Krool Kharun is the function that takes place after the Saath livun, in both the houses of the bride and the groom. The gate of the house is decorated with drawings, and this is performed by the Bua. This is done to make the ‘Shaadi wala ghar’ stand out from the rest of the houses in the locality.
Mass-Mutchravun: A day or two before this function, the bride’s hair is tied into several braids, and on the day of the function, the Bua of the bride opens all the braids. After this ceremony, the bride is not allowed to braid or tie her hair before the wedding day.
Maenzraat is a combination of the Mehendi and the Sangeet function. The Masi of the bride and groom washes their hands and feet while their Bua applies Mehendi ka teeka on the same. After this singers start performing traditional Kashmiri songs. This function usually goes on till 5 in the morning.
Divgoan starts with Kanishraan, i.e., when the bride and groom are bathed with a sacred mixture of water, milk and rice while showering them with flowers. The ceremony is observed separately by the girl's family and the boy's family in their respective homes. The bride and the groom worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The priest conducts the ceremony in front of a sacred fire. The ornaments and utensils that will be given to the bride by her family are also placed in front of the fire. An essential item of the jewellery is the dejaharu, an ear ornament that is strung on a sacred thread that passes through the middle ear cartilage. The significance of wearing the dejaharu is that the bride is now ready for matrimony.
Tarang and Dastaar Gandun: Tarang is the traditional headgear worn by the bride on D-Day along with her wedding attire. The Bua of the bride performs the ritual of tying the Tarang on the bride's head. Meanwhile, the groom’s paternal uncles tie the Dastaar on the groom's head before the marriage procession leaves for the bride’s house or the wedding venue.
Lagan is the wedding ceremony or the nuptials carried out by the priest in front of the sacred fire. For the first time, the groom and the bride see each other through the images formed in the mirror. This is a custom that is still prevailing. After the groom and the bride see each other, they are made to hold each others' hands in a firm grip that should not get loosened over time. Their hands are covered with a cloth. This in Kashmiri is called Athwas. A mananmal, i.e. a golden thread, is tied to their foreheads. Instead of the 7 pheras, the bride walks on 7 currency notes or coins towards her father-in-law, or the eldest male from the groom's family, who welcomes the bride with open arms. According to Kashmiri folklore, it is said that through this ritual, they are welcoming Goddess Lakshmi to their house.
Posh Pooza is performed when proceeding to the end of the marriage rituals where the bride and groom are made to sit in a comfortable position, and then a red cloth is placed over their heads. All the people around, from the bride’s family, offer them flowers (posh) in accompaniment of Veda mantras. The rationale behind this custom is that the couple is considered to be Shiva and Parvati and the two are duly worshipped. Before the Bidaai or the bride’s farewell, the newlyweds are made to stand on the Vyoog ( rangoli, a decorative pattern made of rice flour and colours )while the eldest female member of the bride's family offers them Nabad (misri, sugar lumps ) thrice and kisses them on the forehead and interchanges the mananmal that was tied on their head during the lagan.
Post Wedding Rituals:
Ghar Atchun is equivalent to a reception party which is held at the bride’s place as well as the groom’s place. The bride's brother and sister come to the marital home and escort the bride back to her parent's home for one day before the function at the bride’s place. In this function, a lavish and delicious spread of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies is prepared, and only the close relatives of both families are invited. After the big meal, the bride and groom return to the married couple's house and take all the gifts given to them.
This blog will not only help you understand and appreciate the rich heritage of the Kashmir valley but also, guide you rightly if you are planning to attend a Kashmiri Pandit wedding. So the next time you get invited, make sure to grab this opportunity of witnessing such a wedding.