Weddings are a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone. Weddings in India are huge affairs, with each area and state holding them in their distinctive way. Weddings in India are celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm and intensity, regardless of whether they are held in the north, south, east, or west. Wedding rituals and celebrations are important in uniting two families under one roof to celebrate love and happiness!
Among the varied cultural regions that mark the distinctive rituals in India are the customs of Garhwal.
Garhwal is a beautiful place surrounded by huge mountains, cold weather and lush green valleys. It is a huge attraction for people from all over the world who want to meditate and attain peace. Garhwal is inhabited by people belonging to a number of ethnic groups and castes.
The culture of Garhwal presents an interesting blend of the indigenous population and traditions of other immigrants that have settled here periodically. The local people of the region are associated with many tribes and work hard to earn their living. Folk dance and music forms an integral part of the people and culture of Garhwal.
Residents of Garhwal Hills have their own ways of wearing clothes due to the cold weather of the place, implying that the wool obtained from the sheep or the goats is used in making woollen clothes.
Depending on age, Garhwali males generally dress in a kurta and pyjama or a kurta and churidar. This has been the most prevalent outfit in the neighbourhood. To keep warm in the winter, young men wear this with a topi, whereas elderly men wear pagadi. Following the British influence, more men did begin to wear suits. The fabric used for clothing varies depending on the region's climatic conditions, with wool used in colder parts and cotton used in warmer regions. A yellow dhoti and kurta are still the standard wedding dress for the groom.
In earlier times men used to travel long distances, and to keep their silver money safe from robbery, they carried them in a bag strapped around their waist. This was hidden from view since they wore it within their garments.
The Garhwali women wear a saree, that is draped in a particular way, the pallu going from the front and then knotted on a shoulder along with a waistband made of cloth. This is believed to be handy for women since it makes carrying food easier and does not interrupt their work in the fields. Previously, the sari was worn with a full-sleeved Angra (blouse) with silver buttons to keep the women warm in the winter. They also wear a headscarf to secure their hair and collect the harvest.
Traditionally, a married woman was supposed to wear hansuli (silver ornament) worn around the neck, guloband (resembles the contemporary choker), black beads and silver necklace called chareu, silver payal, silver necklace, silver dhagula (bracelet) and bichuye (toe rings). Sindoor along with bindi was also mandatory for a married woman. Even today, a Gulaband is a distinct feature of a married woman. It is designed on a maroon or blue band with gold square pieces arranged on it.
With such beautiful distinctions in terms of clothing and culture, Garwalis are bound to have distinctive and peculiar wedding rituals that make for one of the unique traditions of India.
Just like any other Indian wedding, the Garhwali wedding also has several functions before the wedding as well as after the wedding.
The First Step
When it comes to finding the appropriate companion, a lot of Indian families place a high value on caste. The Garhwali people are no exception. The caste of both the bride and groom is examined first, and then the elders of the family determine how to proceed. In most situations, family members match the horoscope after finding a good match on any matrimony site. Even in the present times, matching the horoscope or the Janam Kundali is one of the most significant tasks for Garhwalis before finalizing a wedding.
When both families approve the proposal, tikka is applied to the bride's forehead. This is followed by an engagement ceremony in which a Garhwali bride and Garhwali groom exchange rings. When both members of the family are present, this rite is performed in the presence of all of the family's elders, who bestow all of their blessings on the new couple. The groom's family presents the bride with a Tehri Nath, which she is expected to wear on the wedding day.
Arsha is a traditional sweet dessert that must be prepared compulsorily. Locals and relatives have an important role in the making of arsha. The day on which the arsa-making process will take place must be selected. The entire ritual is carried out with the assistance of locals and guests. Furthermore, the masters in the art of arsa creation are the ones who are most often invited. From soaking rice to grinding it, melting jaggery, to frying, the entire process is amazing to witness.
Kirtan/Keertan is a Sanskrit word that means "narrating, reciting, telling, describing" of an idea or story, specifically in Indian religions. It also refers to a genre of religious performance arts, connoting a musical form of narration or shared recitation, particularly of spiritual or religious ideas, native to the Indian subcontinent. Keertan is a Garhwali pre-wedding event in which ladies perform bhajans of Maa Durga. It is entirely up to them when they want the keertan to take place. It usually takes place throughout the day or in the evening, when people remember God and pray for a successful marriage. In addition, the women bestow their blessings on the bride/groom for a happy married life.
Only the groom performs the bhiksha ritual, in which he wears a dhoti and holds a laathi just like a monk. As a bhiksha, he goes from door to door, asking for ration. Close family members provide rice or wheat in addition to shagun.
Bhiksha most usually refers to food gained through asking for alms in indigenous Indian faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Bhiksha is a Hindu term that refers to the practice of begging for alms for the sake of self-effacement or ego-conquering. Many religious individuals, particularly in small towns and cities, still make it a point to set aside a portion of their daily food grain for charity. Philanthropic action, such as bhiksha, is strongly ingrained in our customs and traditions. In reality, our ancient sacred texts, such as the Rig Veda, make mention of generosity as a citizen's duty and obligation, as well as the advantages that one receives from an act of kindness.
Dal Pakodi Making
Making dal pakodi is an essential ceremony that takes place in the evening before Mehndi night. The major component is urad dal, which has been steeped in water for a few days. Everyone in the neighbourhood is a part of the ritual. Along with the dal pakodi, sweet puris are cooked. Pakodi and arsa are then delivered to the in-law's residence and given as prasad to the people.
A Mehandi night is where the bride and husband apply Mehandi. There is a feast for the visitors and the townspeople. Dancing to Garhwali songs is something they like doing in addition to eating and taking photos. A mehndi ceremony is an emotive Shringaar event that aims to ritualistically beautify and prepare the bride and husband for their wedding day. It starts with the arrival of Mehndi from the groom's side for the bride, which is followed by the Haldi ritual.
Baand Snan Or Haldi Haath
The handmade Haldi is crushed and crumpled into a fine texture before the band snaan ritual. Close relatives come to help with the Haldi-making process. The entire situation takes place with all traditions and with the panditji's involvement. The band snaan is the ceremonial rite that marks the start of a Garhwal wedding ceremony. Everyone gives the bride/groom the ring and applies the Haldi, followed by a bath or snaan. A Puja follows, with the mother, aunties, and close relatives in attendance. When the puja is over, the bride is picked up by the maternal uncle (Mama) and taken to the puja chamber. This ceremony is particularly performed in the presence of the maternal uncle.
Sehrah Bandhayi And Bhenth
The next morning, on the wedding day, the pandit ties the sehrah on the groom in accordance with all customs and procedures. There is no such rite on the initiation of the wedding for the bride. The groom is expected to wear shehrah bhenth. As a sign of affection and congratulations, all of the guests place the currency note mala on the groom. The Barat then prepares to arrive at the venue.
Arrival Of Baraat
After the groom is made to sit on a horse or in a car, he takes an extremely grand entry into the bride's house in a Baraat or the wedding procession. The friends and family members of the groom merrily dance and sing to celebrate the great day. After the groom enters with his baraat, he is welcomed by the bride's mother with flowers and sweets. After that, the guests are seated and served delicious food. Once the guests leave, the groom and bride have dinner together along with some of their close friends and family members.
Prime feast of the Garhwal region of the Uttaranchal State includes Chainsoo, Kaafuli, Jholi, Phaanu, Til ki Chutney, Baadi, Roat, Arsa, Aloo Tomato Jhol.
Tying The Knot
When the couple has finished eating, they sit on the mandap to tie their knot. There is still a pundit reciting hymns and chants and informs the couple of their post-marriage responsibilities. The groom then places the sindoor on the bride's forehead and ties a mangalsutra around her neck. Following the completion of these rites, the groom and bride become husband and wife. Daan occurs shortly after the Varmala and the pheras when guests and the relatives present gifts, shagun, and mainly gold accessories to the bride. The daan is mostly for the bride's side of the family.
The word 'bidaai' literally means 'farewell,' since the girl is leaving her parents and maternal family permanently to enter a new household as well as a new role Ã¢â¬" from daughter to now also wife and daughter-in-law. As the bride enters a new chapter in her life with her spouse, all of her family wishes them luck on their new adventure. Before departing for her in-laws, the bride conducts a rite in which she throws rice and money backwards over her head into her maternal home before crossing the threshold. It assures that her family's financial well-being is never affected. The rite also shows her thanking her parents for raising her with such affection. It is a symbol of the bride wishing for her parents' home to always remain healthy, wealthy and prosperous.
When the Barat returns home, the sister closes the entry gate through which all the puja will take place. The sisters want a shagun from the bride in order to gain admittance. As a result, Dehli adna is one of Garhwal's enjoyable rites.
The bride is introduced to the older family members and close relatives at this event. The bride's family and relatives present her with gold jewels as a muh dikhayi, and in return, the bride gives them garments as a bhenth or gift. Mooh Dikhai which literally means showing the face is a Hindu post-wedding ritual. Its main purpose is to present the new bride to the groom's family. The women reveal the bride's face and shower her with presents. As a welcoming gesture, the bride's mother-in-law, in particular, gives her gifts.
The reception ceremony takes place immediately following the main wedding day. It is the newlywed couple's first public appearance after their nuptials. The reception is generally organised by the groom's family and is a large gathering. This ceremony is attended by friends and acquaintances mostly from the groom's side. Only close family members of the bride are invited. In a Garhwali reception, the bride is given the opportunity to publicly introduce herself to the family and guests. In addition, a feast is planned for the locals.
Finally, the bride attends the dhara pujan the next day. Dhara (River stream) is where the family goes to drink water. Mantras are spoken by the pandit, and then prasad is distributed.
Following that, the bride enters the kitchen and prepares a delicious meal as a symbol of fresh beginnings in the house. As shagun, the elders give her money.
As a custom, the bride is required to return to her mother's house two or three days after the wedding. She and her husband go there and then return a few days later.
Under the same ceremony, the bride brings her fondest and nearest family males, who are lavished with hospitality at her in-law's house. This ritual marks the end of the Garhwali post-wedding rituals.
People appear to go crazy when it comes to Garhwali weddings, despite the fact that weddings are personal events. Attending a Garhwali wedding ceremony is a joyous and ritualistic experience. Everyone feels close to the wedding because of the large number of visitors and the three-day-long feast.
Nobody can picture a dull custom-free wedding if they are born in Devbhoomi (Uttarakhand). Garhwalis, after all, do everything with complete passion and affection. With a broad smile, one can see the reflection of brotherhood among the people and the ease of accomplishing the work.