There is a reason why Bollywood movies glamorize Indian weddings. They are indeed a wonderful concoction of bright colours, soulful music, exciting dance sequences, fragrant flowers, yummy dishes, and of course, gorgeous clothes. And when it comes to Brahmin weddings, rituals that have been valued and followed since ancient times, lend a unique touch to the whole affair. These rituals have a deep spiritual meaning and are a celebration of the heritage and specialty of the Brahmin community. While the exact practice of each ritual may vary from region to region, the essence remains the same. So, whether you have met you partner on a Brahmin matrimony platform, through a matchmaker or through friends, here are some of the rituals your wedding will include.
According to Bollywood movies, Brahmin weddings commence with the bride’s family welcoming the baraat or the groom’s family. This is followed by the Vratham ceremony. Here, both families tie a blessed thread around the couple’s wrists to ward off evil spirits. This is not supposed to be removed until the wedding ceremony has been completed.
Jaanavasam is a ceremony for the groom. He heads to a nearby temple where a small Pooja is performed. In the olden days, he would return from this Pooja on an elephant’s back. Today, most grooms make the journey back by car. Much easier, right?
Unlike western weddings where an engagement is a separate event, the exchange of rings is part of the Brahmin wedding event itself. This is known as Nichayathartham. Along with the exchange of rings, a Ganpathy Pooja is also conducted to formalize the couple’s decision to marry each other.
This custom is a fun-filled one. The groom pretends to leave the mantapa, as if he were going to Kasi (Varanasi) to become a sage without any worldly longings. The bride’s father stops the groom and brings him back to the mantapa. He explains to him the importance of getting married and entering the Grihastha phase. The father then offers the bride’s hand in marriage. The Kasi Yatra ceremony is symbolic of the different stages of a Brahmin’s life and the ceremony can be quite dramatic and lively.
Next, the bride and groom exchange garlands. This indicates their acceptance of each other as partners for life. It’s a playful ritual wherein the bride and groom are hoisted upon the shoulders of their male relatives and there is a competition to see who can garland the other first.
Oonjal can be translated into the word swing. As you might imagine, the bride and groom are seated on a wooden swing or oonjal and fed a mixture of banana, milk and sugar. Women folk throw rice balls in all four directions away from the couple. This is done to ward off evil spirits. The ceremony is quite playful and accompanied by songs sung by other family members.
Kanyadhaanam & Sapthapathi
Kanyadhaanam is the symbolic handing over of the bride by the father to the groom. The bride sits on her father’s lap for the ceremony and it can be quite emotional. The groom then ties a madisar around the bride’s neck and takes over the responsibility of looking after her. They then walk around the fire seven times as the pandit chants prayers. This marks the completion of the wedding.
Now that the couple is married, both families come together to get to know each other better through different activities.
At last, the bride is welcomed into the groom’s home in the Gruhapravesam ceremony. She is blessed by the elders of the family and receives gifts, which include a new saree.
So, as you can see, each of these Brahmin matrimonial ceremonies has its own significance. Even years later, when you go through your wedding album, these moments will bring a smile on your face. Also remember that rituals don’t need to be serious. After all, your wedding marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and so make sure you enjoy every minute of it.