United by one nation, divided by rituals! Well, neither am I trying to create any perception about our nation nor am I preparing for any political campaign. I am merely referring to the surprising plethora of rituals that different parts of our country exhibit. As a matter of fact, these differences entice people from all over the world to visit our country. One such aspect of India is the multiplicity she exhibits in the wedding rituals. Countrywide, the basic custom of a bride and groom marrying each other may remain constant, but there are plenty of rituals that make these occasions unique and fun. Here are some bizarre yet fun and interesting wedding customs certain parts of our nation offer.
The Bong Connection
Bengali culture is well known for its art, literature, and of course, sweets. Speaking of sweets, one such sweet tradition is called Dodhi mongol. The bride and the groom need to fast the entire day of the wedding and the only meal they get till they get married is an early-morning meal. How early? Well, even before the sun rays can say hello to us, the couple at their respective homes are supposed to eat a sweet meal that is prepared by mixing the very famous rosogulla with puffed rice, curd, and other sweets. Siblings of the bride and the groom who get to eat more of this meal are considered to be the next lucky one. If you are about to attend a bong wedding, be careful with that sweet trap! After all, it is quite hard to say no to such sweet delicacies. Bengalis follow another ritual that is far from sweet. Quite a contradiction in fact. The mother, both of the bride and of the groom, is not allowed to watch the wedding process. Yes, call it weird if you may but that’s how bongs prefer it. According to them, a mother watching her daughter or son getting married is considered inauspicious.
How I Fish!
Not far from West Bengal, a northeastern state speaks of another uncommon tradition. In Manipur, one lady from the bride’s and the groom’s family each is required to free a specific variety of fish, Taki fish, into a water body. The fish represent the bride and the groom. If they do not end up swimming together by each other’s side, it is considered inauspicious. For this custom, we can confidently say there is something fishy!
A Tangy Welcome
Welcoming the groom, his family, friends, and relatives, aka baraati, is a serious business in our country. The bride’s family does everything to ensure a warm and grand welcome. Strangely though, natives of Sarasaul, Uttar Pradesh, beg to differ in this aspect. As per this one-of-its-kind custom, the baraati receive a tangy welcome as tomatoes are tossed at them. The natives feel that a relationship with sour/tangy beginning ends up in warmth and love. Hence, the welcome. I am sure the Sarasaul natives have a fun time celebrating the masqueraded Tomatina festival.
Have a Blessed Married (Y)ear
In India, usually the brother of the bride plays a vital role in performing a good background check on the groom and his family. In Maharashtra, the bride’s brother is involved in yet another funny ritual. As per this custom, the brother yanks the ears of the groom as a sign of caution so that the groom takes good care of his better half. If that’s what happens in the wedding, I am sure no groom would ever take a chance of not being nice to his spouse all his life.
On Top of the Head
If you thought the previous ritual seemed a tad too gender biased, this ritual from Bihar will definitely balance the situation. The brides in Bihar need to take a test to prove their strength as the quintessential daughter-in-law. A tower of earthen pots is placed on the head of the bride stacking one pot after the other indicating the balance she is likely to maintain in her family post marriage. And we underestimated the power of such pots, considering them as mere containers to store water!
Time and Again
Malayalis are popular for their simple and hassle free weddings. Not only is it short but it also relatively free from myriad customs and traditions. So, what is the unique custom I am referring to? That’s the tricky part. In spite of freedom of various traditions, one thing Malayali people are picky about is punctuality. They are extremely particular about the specific time aka muhurtam. Nope, this isn’t the muhurtam meant for the wedding rituals. Instead, this muhurtam refers to the time when the families and the relatives of the bride and the groom head out to the wedding venue. The belief is that strictly abiding by the decided time for stepping out of the house for the wedding is likely to bring good luck.
To Be or Not to Be
Just imagine a wedding scenario where the groom has second thoughts and is about to choose abstinence for the rest of his life leaving his bride behind. Before you get all paranoid and curse the groom, let me introduce a one-off custom that is observed in Tamil weddings. Grooms in Tamil Nadu are required to do a tiny act before they head to the marriage mandap (the place where the marriage is performed) pretending to choose celibacy over marriage. The father of the bride intervenes and plays yet another act of convincing the groom to-be to stay back and get married instead. It is only after this act that the actual wedding begins!
Just a Feet Away
Weddings in Gujrat offer a rather different welcome ritual for the groom. The groom’s feet are rinsed by his would-be in-laws. Nope, this isn’t because they are finicky about groom’s cleanliness, although it does help on those lines as well. This ritual is considered auspicious and is a must before the wedding commences. After the feet wash, the groom is also served with Panchamrut (a holy liquid as per the Hindu beliefs) prepared by mixing 5 elements—milk, honey, yoghurt, sugar, and ghee. Once this ritual is performed, the groom is allowed to step into the Mandap.
That is the beauty of different Indian cultures and the weddings performed with these interesting customs. And you thought weddings are just about the groom and bride tying the knot!
Written by—Nibedita Banerjee
Know all about other crazy wedding traditions in our country. Visit www.dhaamdhoom.in, the ultimate wedding guide!