Sindhi Wedding Rituals

The Sindhis normally go through a third party for arranging a match. They either negotiate through the marriage bureau of the Sindhi academy or use the services of a mediator or a matchmaker. Once a boy is shortlisted, the girl's family goes to see the boy. Only if they approve of the boy, the boy's people get to meet the girl. The boy's family is also generally quite particular about the status of the girl's family and visits her house to assess the living standard. Then come marriage negotiations - a discussion on len-den or dowry in which the girl's parents specify what they are going to give the girl and the couple. A Brahmin priest consults the horoscopes of the bride and the groom and then tallying from the almanac fixes the exact time of marriage (lagna time) so that it is conducted during an auspicious period. In some case, the families set the day of an auspicious festival (Satyanarayan Chandsi or the new moon day) as the marriage date. In a number of cases, when the auspicious time to get married cannot be fixed astronomically, a Gudhuro marriage is performed, which can be performed on any day after sunset.

Kacchi Mishri Swaagat
Pakki Mishri Paon Dhulai
Dev Bithana Jaimala
Lada The Wedding Ceremony / Pheras
Berana Vidai
Tih Welcome The Bride At Her New House
Saanth Chhanar
Mehendi Reception
Lagana Sataurah
Baraat Gadjani
Kacchi Mishri
If the families from both sides agree for the marriage, then the first formal ceremony Kacchi Mishri takes place. The girl's family dispatches 5 kilos of sweetmeats (mithai), five coconuts, a basket of fruit, some kada prasad (seera made of wheat flour) and a small token amount of money to the boy's family. The approval of the match by the boy's family is symbolised by the consumption of the mishri. This ceremony is also called ladki rokna. (engaging the girl). This confirms a relationship between the two families and the marriage is fixed for around four to six months later. 
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Pakki Mishri
Pakki Mishri is the betrothal by a formal ring ceremony, held usually a week before the actual wedding. For the Pakki Mishri ceremony, the bride's family sends all clothes and accessories, which the bridegroom requires for the wedding ceremony, to his house. These gifts are accompanied by a token amount of cash, one basket each of fresh and dry fruit, one kilo of mishri or sugar candy, ten kilos of sugar, ten kilos of sweets and 11 coconuts. The dry fruit basket could also contain other food items like jam, ice cream, coffee, sherbets etc. The girl's family also gives clothes (or an equivalent amount of money) to all the members of the boy's family). Sindhis used to sacrifice a goat to appease the Gods and the spirits to ensure a successful marriage. This is not prevalent anymore. 
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Dev Bithana
A few days prior to the wedding, a Brahmin priest installs a chakki (stone grinder) as a totemic deity. This is worshipped till the end of marriage ceremonies. This is called Dev Bithana and is the starting point of the wedding celebrations. Dev Bithana takes place separately in the houses of the bride and the groom. The bride or the groom is then seated in front of this chakki. Some sacred objects (seven Haris, eight Patras or sons, and nine Bublans or covers) are placed on this chakki and a thread is tied around it. Then the family members apply tilak to the structure. Then everyone takes a bath, applying Fuller's earth. Dev Bithana marks the beginning of the period during which the neither bride not and the groom is allowed to leave his/her house. Ainars (marriage guards) look after the requirements of the bride and the groom and assist them at every step till the marriage is over. The brothers- in-law of the groom and the bride are, respectively, appointed as Ainars. 
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Lada
This also marks the beginning of marriage preparations in the groom's house. The groom's family holds a ceremonial singing session of traditional wedding songs. Ladas are sung to the beat of a dholak (drum) or a plain thaali (metal plate). The family of the groom invites the neighbourhood women to participate in the function. There is a lot of dancing also. The bridegroom's family distributes sugar to all the assembled visitors. 
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Berana
This is an optional ceremony. Three-four days before the main ceremony, a Jhulelal (Sindhi godhead) Satsang may be organised. 
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Tih
The priest of the bride's family goes to the groom's house one day prior to the wedding. He takes a small bag of rice, a coconut, nine dates, twenty one sweet nibatas (bars of sugar candy), cardamom, cloves, a skein of green silk yarn and the lagna of the marriage (time fixed as auspicious) written on paper. The groom is seated near the priest, who pays obeisance to Ganesha and the planets. The priest then ratifies the lagna and sanctifies it by reciting certain incantations (pritishta) and then places the written material in the groom's lap. The groom then pays his respects to the priest and the elders who are present. This ceremony is known as Tih. On the night of the Tih, the bridegroom is ceremoniously presented in front of the household deities. Over his clothes the groom puts on the lungi (traditional garment worn for a wedding) and straps a sword in a scabbard on to his waist. He then offers his prayers to Ganesha and the planets. The priest now consecrates the groom's head-dress, a mukut (crown) by reciting the pritishtha, and places it on the groom's head. After the 'coronation', the family assembles and offers oblations of rice grains to the crown. The crown is then taken off for the night so that the groom can take rest. The groom's Ainar sleeps near him that night. Neither the groom nor the Ainar leave the house until the baraat departs. 
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Saanth
On the day before the wedding, this ceremony is held separately in the houses of the bride and the groom. A Brahmin priest conducts a puja in the bride's house. On the centre of the skull of the girl's head, seven married women (suhagan) put oil. This ceremony is also performed on the groom at his place. The relatives then tear the clothes the girl (or the boy) is wearing. This is symbolic of doing away with the old for bringing in the new and warding off evil. 
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Mehendi
A day before the marriage, a mehendi (henna) ceremony is held. The palms of the hand, and the feet of the bride are decorated with ornamental mehendi patterns. The intricate designs that decorate the palms of the bride include folk art figures of plants, birds, fish and other auspicious symbols. The invitees are friends and close relatives of the girl and a small feast is laid out for them. This is neither an original nor compulsory Sindhi ritual. 
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Lagana
On the wedding day, a pot containing oil and coins is kept for the oiling rituals of the bride. As a symbol of aashirwad (blessing), close relatives and family members oil the bride's head after dipping their fingers into this pot. Once this is done, the bride starts getting dressed for the wedding. 
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Baraat
The groom gets dressed for the wedding, wears a crown and then sits on the mare. The groom's mother holds the lamp lit for the household deity. Amidst singing of ceremonial wedding songs, the other womenfolk make oblations of grain to the crown. A band of musicians accompanies the baraat (marriage procession). 
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Swaagat
At the threshold of the wedding venue, the family of the bride welcomes the groom's procession with garlands. At this point, the bride is taken onto the terrace or a window from where she gazes upon the groom's mukut (crown) but not on his face. The sisters and brothers of the bride ask the groom to come inside. The groom calls his mother to lead the way, and she in turn asks the married women in the baraat to accompany her. The women are welcomed with sindur (vermilion). Their unwidowed (suhagin) status is honored with red ribbons or scarves. The bride's family also gives them gifts. The number of such gifts is specified beforehand so that they can be arranged. These gifts are usually saris.
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Paon Dhulai
The couple is seated with a screen separating them and thus cannot see each other. The brother of the bride then washes the feet of the bride and the groom in a bronze thaali with raw milk. The priest measures the feet of both the groom and the bride with a thread kept by the bride. 
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Jaimala
Then comes Jaimala where the bride and the groom face each other and exchange garlands. 
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The Wedding ceremony / Pheras
The couple is seated on the bridal bed, which is later gifted to them. Then comes the actual marriage ceremony or the Pheras where the bride and the groom go around the sacred fire four times (unlike seven in a typical Hindu wedding). This ceremony is performed at the pre-determined time of lagna. The groom leads the first three rounds and the bride leads the fourth. 
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Vidai
Once the wedding is over, the bride and the groom are entrusted to the care of the bride's brothers. The baraat then departs for the groom's house. At the time of Vidai, the father of the bride gives gifts. The bride and the groom travel separately on different routes. 
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Welcome The Bride at Her New House
The arrival of the bride and the groom is announced by loud beating of drums. The newly wed couple is welcomed by the womenfolk of the house. At the threshold of her marital home, the bride gives seven handfuls of salt and rice to the family priest. She enters the house carrying a terracotta plate on which a diya (earthen lamp) is placed. 
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Chhanar
The marriage is finally considered concluded with Chhanar - the removal of the Devs (chakki installed as a totemic deity). This is also known as Dev Uthana. On the day following the wedding, in the house of the groom, the newlyweds are brought in front of the Devs. The corners of their garments are tied together, and a priest worships the planets and the gods. After this, the groom's mother feeds the bride and the groom seven mouthfuls of a mixture of rice, sugar and milk. The groom's Ainar brings a branch from a kandi tree and then along with a dagger pitches it in front of the gods. The bride's hair is dressed by the jajik woman. The bride and the groom go around a tree in front of which an earthen lamp is lit. On the next day, all the members of the household who have sacred threads tied around their wrists, assemble before the household gods. The sacred threads and the lanas of the couple are then untied and tilak is applied to the foreheads of the newlyweds. The priest then concludes the ceremony of by removing the thread wrapped around the chakki. 
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Reception
The boy's family holds a reception on the evening following the wedding. 
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Sataurah
The bride and the groom go to the bride's house at an auspicious time fixed by the priest. 
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Gadjani
A ceremony known as Gadjani is conducted for the purpose of introducing the couple to close friends and relatives. Before entering the house, a virgin ties the corners of the newly-wed's garments to each others and a woman leads them into the house while milk and water is sprinkled in their path. After this ceremony, the parents of the bridegroom may return to their house, as the date suitable for return of the couple may differ according to the priest's calculations. 
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