India with its myriad of cultures brings a quintessential diversity in wedding traditions when it comes to different states. Though the basic traditions of communities may be united by religion, the variation is brought in by the local culture of each state community and each language community. One of the most culturally rich, yet under-discussed traditions of a Hindu style wedding is the tradition of the Maharashtrian Wedding. Even though most of our Bollywood industry is based in Mumbai, very few films have chosen to display a realistic depiction of a Maharashtrian wedding. The most recent memories of a Mahrasthrian wedding are brought forth to our minds by looking at the pictures of Milind Soman’s traditional style wedding, which also had some influence from the Assamese tradition because Ankita Konwar is an Assamese. Other than that our long term memory was also captured by the varied depiction of wedding related functions in the long running television show Pavitra Rishta that casted our beloved Sushant Singh Rajput and Ankita Lokhande.
The frequent reappearance of the typical Maharashtrian forehead sehra and the typical bridal nath did bring a sense of tradition to the mainstream, but still most of us are unaware of the interesting customs that make up a beautiful yet sombre Maharashtrian wedding.
Here are all the things you need to know about a traditional Maharashtrian wedding in case you want to go back to your roots and organize a simple yet elegant soiree for your wedding.
Before the wedding rituals begin, the foremost step in a Maharashtrian wedding is the declaration of Aaple Lagna or Your/ Our Marriage . This is done by the means of a Lagna Patrika which is known as the wedding invitation. The Lagna Patrika has various traditional elements that are made as per the Marathi customs. The Lagna Patrika begins by invoking a prayer to the god. This is usually addressed to a Hindu deity or one’s local deity i..e. Kuladevata. Usually the Lagna Patrika is printed in Marathi, but more and more modern couples are choosing to print two leaflets, one in Marathi for the relatives and one in English or Hindi for their friends. Most Lagan Patrika’s begin with a beautiful Marathi quote about love; making the Patika a symbol for the upcoming matrimonial union. Once the Lagan Patrikas are sent out and the wedding is declared, the family of the bride and the groom prepare for the pre wedding customs.
Typically common among all Hindu traditional weddings, The Lagnaach Bedior is the process of horoscope matching. Before the wedding events commence the horoscopes or patrika of the bride and groom are matched to make sure that the two are astrologically compatible. Astrological compatibility is a thing of great importance to check if the couple are destined to have a happy future. In case there are any discrepancies in the two horoscopes the priests also suggest ways to rectify or remedy the issues that may hinder the peaceful fruition of the marriage in the long run. Due to deep rooted beliefs in astrology, most traditional Maharahtrians will make sure that horoscope matching is done before marriage, to ensure a happy future of the couple.
Literally meaning Sugar powder, this ceremony is symbolic of the tasting or distribution of sweets that is done on any happy occasion. The Maharashtrian equivalent of a sagai/ roka/ engagement is known as SakharPuda. During this ceremony the groom’s mother applies Haldi/Kumkum on the bride’s forehead and gives her blessings by gifting a saree, jewellery and a packet of sweets. Similarly the ritual is done by the bride’s mother towards the groom where he is gifted with a coconut, gold/ silver coins and clothes. This ritual represents the acceptance of the bride by the groom’s family and of the groom by the bride’s family. After this the ring ceremony takes place where the bride and groom exchange rings as a symbol of their new starting commitment towards one another. Alternatively the SakharPuda is also known as the Waang Nishchay which means a verbal agreement, where the sugar represents a sweet start, the coconut represents an auspicious beginning. The Bride usually wears glass bangles for the SakharPuda. Most brides may wear a regular style of a typical Maharashtrian style saree on this occasion. To celebrate the occasion people play traditional SakharPuda songs like ‘Sakharpuda Aamchya Taicha’, ‘Zala Sakharpuda’, ‘Pori Tujha Tharlay Sakharpuda’ and so on.
Once the wedding engagement ceremony is done with, the pre wedding preparations begin. This comprises the Muhrat Karane during which five married women or Suhasinis come to the bride’s mother on invitation on an auspicious day. Together they start making Haldi powder and Sandege( spice and pulse powder) to be used later in the wedding rituals. Papads are also rolled out at this time. Though many families may not follow this custom in the modern times as all these materials are readily available in the market and do not require as much effort as they did before. This is followed by the shopping for all the wedding trousseau which is later displayed during Rukhvat ; where the collection of bridal lehengas, sarees, jewellery, utensils and other aspects of the bridal trousseau are exhibited artistically.
This is a traditional religious ritual of the pre-wedding ceremonies of a Marathi wedding. During this ritual the two families come together to pray to their kuldevata or local deities. Cited as one of the most important rituals amongst the Marathis, during this ceremony, guests and relatives are invited from both sides of the family, 2-3 days before the wedding. The relatives bring gifts for the bride and the groom. Then the two families invite each other to have a meal together. This event is formally designed for the family to gift clothes, jewellery and other expensive things to the bride. The Kelvan meal is a thali that is usually served on a banana leaf and the food is usually vegetarian
The equivalent of the North Indian tradition of the Haldi ceremony, the 5 married women who were invited during the Muhurat Karane are asked to apply mango leaves dipped with turmeric paste on the forehead, shoulders, hand and feet of the groom. This haldi paste is then sent to the bride’s house and the same process is repeated there.Once the Halad Chadavne is done the Bride and Groom cannot step out of the house. The process of Haldi application is seen as one providing not just a glowing skin but also considered to be protecting one from evil eyes and bad omens.
The Chura ceremony refers to the bangles that are gifted to the bride. The bride is given a set of green glass bangles along with gold or pearl bangles. Green is considered to be the symbol of life, fertility and creation. Green is supposed to bring joy and happiness in the life of the couple, and the bride is usually supposed to adorn the bangles until one month after the marriage rituals are done. Even the bride’s friends wear green bangles during this ceremony and the atmosphere is full of fun and frolic where women enjoy singing with one another.
Marathi wedding rituals are infused with various puja ceremonies and vows. The Maharashtrian wedding is a simple, sobre and a religious affair, which includes a series of religious rituals. This embarks the wedding day rituals which are announced by the utterance Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan, which refers to the auspicious matrimony but is also a warning for the upcoming responsibilities of the married life.
All auspicious events in Maharashtra are incomplete without the summoning and invocation for Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganpati is invoked to ensure a blessed beginning for the upcoming matrimony.
In the Devdevak ceremony the family deity is invited to the wedding mandap. Then the bride participates in the Gaurihar Puja, during which she has to seek blessings from goddess Gauri/ Parvati who is considered to be the ultimate epitome of the quintessential married woman in Indian culture. The bride dressed in the complete bridal attire, seeks these blessings for a prosperous life moving ahead. During this the bride’s maternal uncle gives rice to the bride and she offers it to the goddess. While performing this Puja the bride is supposed to wear a yellow saree and a Mundavalya or pearl/ floral string across her forehead.
During the Punyavachan, the bride’s parents take her to the wedding venue and ask everyone to bless her. The purpose of this ritual is to purify oneself and their surroundings before performing the Vaidiki Karmas. While the families of the bride and groom seek the blessing of the guests and relatives for their children, they also then perform Varun Puja and Matru Puja. This is followed by the SeemantPuja. In this ritual the groom is welcomed to the wedding venue by the bride’s mother , who receives him with an aarti and sweets and then she washes the feet of the groom and applies tilak on his forehead. Traditionally performed on a day before the wedding, many couples have started performing the ritual on the day of the wedding itself, and as the name suggests Simant means boundary; the groom’s family basically reaches the boundary of the bride’s house and then they are welcomed through this ceremony.
During this ceremony the groom arrives at the mandap and sits at the designated spot with the Mundavalya on his forehead. A curtain known as the Antarpat is hung in front of the groom to prevent him from looking at the bride who sits on the other side of the curtain, opposite him. During this ceremony the groom is usually dressed in a white/ cream sherwani and also adorns a traditional cap or a turban on his head. At this time the priest chants some mantras and the bride and groom are not supposed to see one another till the priest finishes his chanting.
During the Sankalp ritual the bride is led to the mandap by her maternal uncle, while remaining on the other side of the Antarpat as the priest chants Mangalashtakas accompanied by musicians. Once the recitation of the mantras is complete, the antarpat is removed and the bride and groom lay eyes on one another, which makes up for a romantic moment. Following which the couple exchanges the jaimala. After this the guests shower the couple with Akshata or whole rice and flowers.
A common ritual in all Hindu weddings, during the Kanadan the father of the bride hands over the hand of the bride to the groom as a symbol of passing the responsibility of taking care of her, from himself to the new caretaker of the bride, i.e the groom. After this in the Lajahoma the bride offers grains to the holy fire while she chants three mantras which are then repeated by the groom. The fourth mantra is chanted silently by just the bride. The bride’s parents then worship the couple as an avatar of Vishnu and Lakshmi. The couple then ties a turmeric thread on each other’s hands. At this time the groom ties a mangalsutra around her neck and applies sindoor in her hair parting. The bride then applies a chandan tika on the groom’s forehead. With this, the groom promises to love and respect the bride for his life.
Following the ritual of mangalsutra tying and sindoor application, the couple speaks out the seven wedding vows and then takes 7 rounds around the holy fire. The bride is required to touch seven betel nuts placed on top of 7 mounds of rice, with her right foot. After the seven rounds are done, the bride places her foot on a grindstone, and the groom holds her hand or foot, symbolizing that he will always be there to support her.
The wedding is considered complete as the bride and groom perform Laxmi Puja till the fire goes out. The bride’s father along with the couple seek God's blessings to have a happy married life. To add fun to the ritual, the bride’s brother twists the groom's ear to warn the groom to take good care of his sister. This is known as kaan pili. This is followed by a grand lunch. Unlike most Hindu weddings, a Maharshtrian wedding’s rituals all take place during the day.
After the completion of the wedding there are few more rituals that take place which make a Maharashtrian wedding complete.
Much like the vidai ceremony of the north Indian tradition, during the Varat the bride bids farewell to her family in order to move to her new family. The groom holds the Parvati idol from the Gaurihar Puja and carries it along as the bride is followed by a long procession upto the house of the groom. The ceremony is extremely emotional and tearful and the bride now becomes a part of the groom’s family.
In this ceremony the newly married couple is welcomed into the new family. The groom’s mother performs an aarti of the bride and groom, after which the bride is asked to push a kalash full of rice, by her feet, into the house. Rice is considered to be a symbol of prosperity and bounty and the bride is considered to be the Griha Lakshmi, who along with her entry into the new house brings bounty and abundance. The couple makes an entry by putting in their right foot forward, which is considered to be auspicious.
After the completion of the marriage ceremony and the welcome of the bride into the new house, a final party is organized to introduce the new bride to the family and friends of the groom. At this occasion the bride dresses up in bridal attire and jewellery gifted to her by the groom’s family and the groom dresses up in the outfit gifted by the bride’s family. Everyone celebrates the union of the newly married couple and all the guests participate in dancing and merry making.
In a traditional Marathi wedding,, the groom usually dresses up in a white or off white kurta paired with white golden bordered Kanche Dhoti . This is accompanied by a beautiful stole over the shoulders and the typical headgear of the Pheta or the Gandhi hat.
The bride usually wears colourful silk sarees with golden borders in the Paithani or Navari style. This is accompanied by green glass bangles,Mangalsutra, Thusi (necklace), Maharashtrian motyanchi nath and the moon shaped bindi.
The overall affair of a Maharshtrian wedding is a simple and elegant one, with no show sha and no over the top celebrations. Maharashtrians prefer to enjoy their wedding with their close family and friends in a sobre and sophisticated manner.