Maharashtrian marriages are never performed at night.
These weddings usually take place in the morning hours. Sometimes, they are
also conducted in the afternoon, depending on the muhurat. Such a muhurat is
called a goraj-muhurta (when the cows return from grazing).
|Normally, the engagement ceremony is
conducted at the bride's place.
Engagement or Sakharpuda literally means 'a packet of sugar' which is given to
each other. It could be a simple affair wherein the bridegroom and his close
relatives come to the bride's home. But it could also be organised by bride's
side on a larger scale inviting more guests.
The bride flanked by her parents and karvali i.e. bride's sister sit in a row
on pat - wooden board. The bridegroom's mother applies haldi-kunku and gives a
sari to the bride into which bride is supposed to change. Thereafter the
bridegroom's mother does Oti Bharane and gives Sakharpuda - a cone shaped
decorative parcel filled with pedhe. Giving gifts to the bride's parents and
karvali is optional. This means first, bridegroom's side has to give their word
to bride's side that they have fixed the alliance. Similarly, to give their
consent in return, the bride's mother invites the bridegroom, his parents and
karvali to sit on the pat. She applies kumkum tilak to the groom and his father
and haldi-kunku to groom's mother and karvali and gives a pant and shirt piece
or any clothing item as also Sakharpuda to the groom. Again gifts to all others
are optional. After this ceremony, the bridegroom puts a ring on the bride's
ring-finger - anamika -of the left hand. The similar process is repeated by the
The guests are given pedhe, some refreshments or a full meal. The engaged
couple meets the guests and pays respect to elders by touching their feet. This
ceremony signifies the agreement of the alliance witnessed by many people.
|On an auspicious day, months before the
wedding day, both the sides start wedding preparation. Traditionally, it is
called muhurt karane when at least five suvasini - married women are invited.
With iron pestle tied with mango leaves, one by one suvasinsi pound halkund
(dried kaccha haldi) in iron mortar into fine haldi powder, which is used
during halad chadavane. Thereafter they roll out papads and make sandage
(soaked dals grinded with spices are made into tiny balls and dried in the
Sun). These days, this tradition is given a go-by.
After muhurt, both the sides, especially, bride's side goes on a shopping
spree. The bride's side prepares for rukhvat - an exhibition of gift articles,
decorative pieces, handicrafts, eatables such as five types - each of dry
fruits, fruits, ladoos, moramba, sweets etc. Actually this is to convey bride's
various skills but it goes without saying that anyone can contribute to this
On an auspicious day, the first invitation is given to Lord Ganesh by visiting
his temple and then to other Gods. Thereafter, invitations are given personally
by parents or uncle-aunts, or any relative as per the seniority of the
invitees. Typically, the ladies carry a silver kunku karanda and silver bowl
with akshata -coloured rice. The inviting lady applies kunku to the lady of the
house while the inviting gentleman gives invitation cards topped with akshata
to the man of the house and both formally utter the invitation. The inviting
couple is given some sweets or sugar to accept the invitation and the sweet
news. Because of distances and want of time, the invitations could also sent
out by the post or courier.
|The bride's close relatives and friends
call over the bride and her family for a meal and give her a gift and do oti
bharane. The bridegroom's side do the same to the groom. Two-three days prior
to the wedding day, for gharacha gadgner, close relatives are invited for a
meal at the bride's place where gharacha aher i.e. parents' and close
relatives' wedding gifts are given to the bride and similar ceremony takes
place at groom's side among his folks. The parents formally give expensive
clothes, jewellery, silverware etc to the bride.
|On the day before the wedding day, haldi
powder pounded on the muhurt is made into a paste in a plate. One by one, the
five suvasini dip mango leaves - one in each hand - in plate of haldi paste and
apply it first on feet, then on knees, then on shoulders and then on forehead
of the bride. Each suvasini does this three times. Thereafter, the bride is
given a nice massage of haldi paste depending on her consent. Since these days
the brides wear make-up they do not like too much yellowness on the skin. Same
ceremony takes place at the groom's side. Often, ushti halad i.e. haldi paste
left over after applying it to the groom, is taken to the bride's place and is
applied to the bride. The significance of haldi ceremony is that the aspiring
couple is not supposed to go out and expose themselves. This may take place on
the wedding day before the ritual bath.
|Simant literally means boundary. The
groom and the marriage party (barati) are welcomed at the boundary of the
bride's village and her mother does puja of the groom. These days, it is done
on the wedding day itself at the venue of marriage. Bride's mother washes the
groom's feet by pouring a little water over his feet in a plate, does kumkum
tilak, puts akshata on groom's head, does arati and gives some sweet or
madhupak (mixture of honey and curd). Groom's folks are also given sweets or
madhupak. The groom is made to sit in the venue and bride's father gives gifts
like suit, jewellery etc to the groom. Groom's mother and ladies go to bride's
quarter and give her five saris, jewellery etc.
|The day before the wedding day, parents
of the bride and the groom in their respective places announce the marriage
that is witnessed by the priest. This ceremony may take place on the wedding
|The auspicious wedding ceremony begins
with Ganpatipujan and a prayer is performed for Lord Ganesh's blessing to take
the wedding through without any problems or obstruction (nirvighna). This
prayer is performed at both the groom's as well as bride's quarters.
|For purification of minds and place,
priests asks groom/bride and his/her father to pray and ask for the blessings
of everybody at their respective quarters.
|It is also called kuldevata sthapana
wherein the family deity is invoked to bless the bridal couple and the ceremony
takes place at groom's as well as bride's quarters.
|The bride attired in a yellow sari given
by her maternal uncle and mundavalya (decorative strings of pearls, beads,
flowers) tied on the forehead apart from other jewellery and facial make-up is
all ready to get married. She sits on a pat in her room and in front of her, a
silver idol of Parvati is placed on a heap of rice on another pat. She keeps on
taking some rice with both her hands and puts atop the idol while praying the
Goddess Annapurna. At this moment, the bride is not supposed to talk and
instead needs to concentrate on her prayers.
|Everybody present in the mandap is given
akshata and everyone stands close to the mandap. The groom, dressed in
dhoti-kurta or salwar-kurta, head covered with topi and mundavalya tied on the
forehead, is invited to the mandap where he stands on a pat facing west and
holding a thick garland. The priests hold a cloth screen called antarpat in
front of the groom chanting mangalashtaka. The bride's maternal uncle escorts
the bride to the mandap and she is asked to stand on the other side of the
antarpat also holding similar garland. Respective karvali stands behind the
bride/groom with a copper kalash containing holy water and topped with betel
leaves and coconut. Another young girl stands with arati. Mostly the
bridegroom's mother stands behind the bride with eksari - black beads string
with big gold bead in the centre .
Enthusiastic relatives, friends and guests also get chance to sing their own
compositions of mangalashtaka which are typical Sanskrit or Marathi verses
invoking Gods, describing the ceremony, praising the bridal couple's family
members, giving advise to the bridal couple and finally giving blessing as also
best wishes for the life together ahead. The Groom's mother puts across eksari
around bride's neck and is supposed to tie a knot at the end of each stanza of
mangalashtaka. Each stanza ends with "Kuryat Sada Mangalam, Shubh Mangal
Savdhan" and everyone showering akshata on the bridal couple.
At the stroke of the muhurt, the priest chants last verses of the mangalashtaka
loudly removing the antarpat and among the traditional music of vajantri
(consists of shehnai and choughada) and/or modern band, the excitement builds
up for the zero hour. The groom first puts a garland around the bride's neck.
The bride also does the same. The respective karvalis apply holy water from the
kalash to the eyes of bride and groom and perform arati.
Ladies are given haldi-kunku and all are given sweets mostly pedha.
| Bride's father gives the bride away to
the groom. The priest asks the groom to join both the palms and receive in it
stream of holy water poured by bride's mother while bride's father says that he
is giving away in marriage his daughter to this gentleman so that both of them
can start together a life of Dharma, Artha and Kama. The groom accepts it
saying that this is giving away love for love. The one who gives love is also
one who receives love. The groom tells the bride that she is the shower of
love, which has been given by the Sky and received by the Earth. He asks the
elders to bless them.
Then the bride asks for a promise from the groom that he will never violate her
limits in Dharma, Artha and Kama. The bride promises the groom that she will
always belong to him like Sita-Savitri and always be by his side.
The bride's parents perform Lakshmi Narayan Puja of the bridal couple
considering them to be avatar of Lakshmi Narayan.
The couple ties on each other's hand a halkund with a thread and this is called
|The bridal couple is asked to hold
akshata in left hand and shower them with the right while expressing their
desire for gunsamriddhi, dhan, dharma, santan (children), kirti etc. The priest
and elders pray that all their desires be fulfilled.
|Chanting mantras, the groom puts
mangalsutra around bride's neck.
|A stone is kept to the west of the
homkund (fire) and a pot of water is kept to its northeast. To the north, four
darbhas are spread on which there are two vessels. A pot of Ghee is kept
nearby. The priest tells the bridal couple that having taken the oath of
marriage now, the same is to be taken in the witness of the fire (agnisakshi).
Then the priest asks the groom to give ahuti of ghee in the name of Skanda,
Prajapati, Agni and Som. The groom prays to Agni asking to make them pure and
keep their enemy away; asking for children and their long lives; asking to
protect his bride and make her give good progeny whom she would see by living a
|The priest asks the bride to join palms
in which the groom puts a spoonful of ghee, a fistful of lahya (puffed rice)
and again a spoonful of ghee. The groom holds with both his hands the bride's
joined palms and puts this ahuti in the fire chanting mantras, which means that
this girl has worshipped the fire, which will never make her break loving ties
with her in-laws.
The groom holds the bride's right hand and goes around the fire and the pot of
water chanting mantras that mean, "I am Purush, you are Prakriti. I am the Sky,
you are the Earth. I am a Song, you are a Chhand (tune). With these conceptual
ideas and love in mind, let us unite forever to procreate. Let us live hundred
years and always have mutual understanding. The bride is asked to stand on the
stone kept to the west of the fire. The groom asks her to remain steadfast like
|Having worshiped the fire, the priest
asks the couple to take seven steps with the same thoughts and determination.
The groom, with his right hand, holds the bride's left hand and starts taking
step towards the north-east direction. First, the right foot is taken forward
and then the left foot is joined with it while chanting mantras. Like this,
seven steps are taken. At every two feet, small heaps of rice are kept on which
they are supposed to tread. The couple asks for seven needs of life - one each
at each step. These are food, strength, wealth, happiness, progeny, pleasure of
enjoying various seasons and immortal friendship. The priest says that this
sanskar has extremely strengthened the bond of friendship between you (the
couple) and may your lives be united like two bodies with a single soul!
The couple is asked to stand facing each other and touch their foreheads -
literally meaning putting their heads together for decision-making
A touch of humour is added to the ceremony with the bride's brother twisting
the groom's right ear to remind him of his responsibility towards his
Bride's mother does oti bharane and gives a sari to the bride, which she wears.
The groom may also change into another comfortable pair of salwar-kurta. The
couple touches the feet of elders and get blessed.
|The bride's mother does oti bharane and
gives saris to the groom's mother, sisters/sister-in-laws. Bride's father gives
gifts like pant-shirt piece to the groom's father and brothers/brother-in-laws.
Similarly, groom's parents give gifts to the bride's family. In tond dhune, the
bride's mother gives a sari and a jewellery piece like motyache tode or a gold
ring or a pearl string to the groom's mother along with a tea-set etc. In vyahi
bhet, bride's father gives a silver glass to the groom's father. The tond dhune
and vyahi bhet are generally performed next day morning and are optional.
| If the Lagna muhurt is in the morning,
there is a lunch party and a reception may be held in the evening. If the
Lagnamuhurt falls in the evening, then the dinner party combines with the
The groom's side is first invited for lunch after which other invitees follow.
Bride's parents personally look after each and every guest. Also the bridal
couple meets each guest during lunch and often serves sweets like bundicha
ladoo or jilebi. The guest may insist that the bridal couple take each other's
name in verses - nav ghene. When bridal couple, groom's parents and karvalis
sit for lunch, bride's mother and other suvasinis perform arati of the couple
and groom's parents and karvalis. Amidst a lot of fun and laughter, the bride
feeds the groom a morsel of sweet and takes his name in verses and vice-versa.
After meal there is lavangtod - another humorous ritual wherein the bride holds
a clove between her teeth and the groom cuts it with his teeth.
|The bride wears shalu - jari brocaded
silk sari given by the groom's side and jewellery while the groom wears suit
given by the bride's side. Guests greet, bless or give good wishes to the
couple along with the wedding gifts. A feast is organised for the guests. Close
relatives and friends are given return gifts. The bridal couple with their
families sit together for the meal and share joy and happiness of the occasion.
|The ultimate emotional scene of the
entire ceremony is when the bride is bid a goodbye. The groom picks up the
silver idol of parvati that is still sitting on gaurihar. The couple touch the
feet of elders and the bride meets with all family members who give her a
tearful hug. The couple sits in a vehicle and the procession, with a band and
fireworks, goes to the groom's place.
|The couple comes to the doorstep and the
groom's mother does arati of the couple. The bride topples map - a measuring
vessel - filled with rice. It signifies that this bride - a Lakshmi - will
bring so much luck that prosperity will flow in the house like the rice flowing
out of the toppled vessel. A white sheet is spread in front of the couple and
the bride dips her feet in a thali filled with a watery kumkum paste and places
it on the sheet. These are considered Lakshmi's steps.
The couple sits and the groom places the silver idol of Parvati that he carried
and places it in a plate of rice and writes the bride's new name. The groom's
mother does oti bharane of the bride. The groom's mother sits between the
couple and sees the bride's face in the mirror - this is called soonmukh
baghane. The couple gives sugar to all present and they have to take names in
verses several times.
|The couple retires to a decorated room
with a bed bedecked in flower, to consummate the marriage. The bride takes
glass of warm milk for the groom and awaits him. The young relatives tease the
groom to heighten the excitement and send him into the room.
|Next day morning, five suvasinis do the
same as halad chadhavane but in reverse order. This is to signify that now the
couple is free to go out. The groom mother unties kankan - halkund tied on the
|Among non-vegetarian Maharashtrians,
especially CKP community, a non-veg feast is organised at both the quarters
separately for the close relatives within a day or two. Typically, the main
dish is mutton-vade or mutton biryani and the liquor may be served before the
food. In olden days, even women used to sip liquor from small silver bowls and
was funnily called nathi vagdya karane i.e. to take aside nose rings to
facilitate the sips.