Gujrati Wedding Rituals

Gujrati marriages are full of symbolic rituals. These rituals lay down the terms of the marriage and give instructions to help the couple lead a good life. Gujaratis believe that after marriage, the wife becomes her husband's sahdharmacharini or equal. With marriage comes responsibility and power. In fact, it is the wife who must keep house and look after all the household requirements. Her husband must hand over to her the keys of the house. He is also expected to hand over his salary at the beginning of every month. The wife must follow her husband in his pursuit of a meaningful life.

Mandap Mahurat Pheras
Griha Shanti Saptapadi
Jaan Reception
Kanya Daan Vidaai
Hasta Milap Ghar Nu Laxmi
Mandap Mahurat
This ceremony is undertaken at the outset of most auspicious events. Hence, the families of the bride and the groom perform this ceremony in their homes a few days before the wedding. The families pray to Lord Ganesh the Hindu God who is believed to remove all obstacles and seek his divine blessing. The puja is performed by an acharya or priest in front of a sacred fire.
Griha Shanti
This is an important puja or prayer session and is conducted at the bride's home as well as the groom's. A mahurat or auspicious time is chosen for the puja after matching the horoscopes of the prospective bride and groom. This ritual springs from the belief that the stars and constellations exert tremendous influence on the lives of human beings. Any disturbance in the stars can cause harm or clashes in the marital relationship and the lives of the couple. The purpose of the puja is to bring peace among the stars. The puja for Griha Shanti is conducted by an acharya with the family members and relatives of the bride's father participating in the rituals.
This ritual involves the groom arriving at the house of the bride to seek the blessings of his mother-in-law. He must bow his head and clutch his nose. This gesture symbolises his humility and understanding of the tremendous sacrifice that his future wife is about to make. She will, after all, be leaving behind a life without cares, changing her name and taking on the responsibilities of running his household. The groom's prospective mother-in-law blesses him and performs a small ritual to ward off the evil eye. She also tries to catch his nose as she reminds him that he is the taker since he will be taking her daughter away and they are the givers.
Kanya Daan
The wedding rituals are performed in front of a sacred fire and conducted by the acharya. The rituals begin with the kanya daan or giving away the girl. The bride is given away by her parents who abstain from eating to make themselves pure in body and mind for the occasion. Their folded hands reflect the hope that their son-in-law will take good care of their daughter and never cause her pain. They wash his feet as they believe that he is none other than the Hindu Lord, Vishnu, to whom they are handing over his rightful consort, the Goddess Laxmi in the form of their daughter.
Hasta Milap
In this ritual, the groom's scarf or shawl is tied to the bride's saree. This knot and the joined hands of the couple symbolise the union of two souls joined together in holy matrimony. The acharya chants mantras to invoke the blessings of Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Parvati for the saubhagyavrata or wife. The family and relatives present also come together to bless the couple and shower grains of rice and rose petals on them.
The bride is dressed by her mother, female relatives and friends amid much gaiety. She may wear a sari or a lehenga in traditional colours like red, orange or magenta. She is adorned with traditional gold jewellery like a nose ring, etc.
The saptapadi or seven steps is another important ritual that makes up the wedding ceremony. The couple must go around the holy fire seven times. The groom chants mantras with each step. Through these mantras he seeks his bride's support and makes a particular request to her with each step. Thus, he makes seven requests totally. Among these requests are that his wife take good care of the house, cook wholesome and healthy meals for their family, be thrifty with money, be an understanding and supporting partner to him, etc. The bride, on her part, promises to fulfill these requests.
The reception is usually held immediately after the wedding. It is an opportunity for relatives, friends and well-wishers to bless the newly weds, enjoy a sumptuous meal with them and give them gifts.
The bride is bid a tearful farewell by her parents, siblings, relatives and friends. It is a sad moment as she steps into a palanquin, a specially decorated car, and leaves for her new home.
Ghar Nu Laxmi
The bride's first step into her new home is considered auspicious. She is the ghar nu laxmi or the goddess Laxmi who will bring wealth and good fortune to her home. Hence, the bride is welcomed by her mother-in-law who performs a small ritual. She places a vessel, filled to the brim with rice, at the entrance of the house. The bride must knock the vessel down gently with her right foot, spilling some of the rice over. The rice is a symbol of wealth and by following the ritual she conveys her full understanding of her duties responsibilities towards her new home.
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