Marwari Weddings: Customs and Traditions
Rituals, customs, style and more! Here's everything you need to know about Marwari weddings.
With a long, historical lineage of royalty, Marwaris, hailing from the region of Marwar in Rajasthan (modern day Jodhpur) are known for their prosperity, colorful traditions and rich culture. With vibrant outfits, grand musical and dance experiences not to mention scrumptious dishes, Marwari weddings are encapsulated in a wealth of customs and grandeur. Exploring the depth and intricacies of Marwari wedding traditions, we bring to you the installment of the Wedding Tradition Series: a kaleidoscopic guide to different regional cultures, spanning intrinsic rituals, customs, fashion and more.
As more couples from different cultures or even countries tie the knot, they desire a beautiful blend of celebrations that will stay with them and their guests forever. Whether you are a bride or groom-to-be planning your wedding, or a guest invited to a friend’s big day, planning for a celebration that is new to you can often get stressful. This wedding tradition series is aimed to answer all your questions about ceremonies and the meaning behind them, how to dress for different functions and unique aspects of the experience to embrace, traversing one culture at a time.
Welcome to the vibrant traditions and lavish revelries of Marwari weddings!
Similar to other North Indian cultures, the Roka ceremony in Marwari weddings is the first official union between the two families, solemnizing the couple’s betrothal. Parents from both sides perform Tilak for the couple and then exchange gifts.
Usually held a week before the wedding once the date is finalized in the Byah Haath, women of both families prepare sweets made of lentils and jaggery called Mangodi while singing Mangal geet.
Naandi Ganesh Pooja
The Naandi Ganesh Puja marks the official invitation custom where Lord Ganesha and other family deities are worshipped to ensure a smooth and hassle-free wedding.
Bhaat Nyotana and Bhaat Bharna
The mother of the bride/groom hosts Bhaat Nyotana, a celebration with her side of the family (the maternal side) to formally invite them to the wedding. The occasion sees joyous festivities post which all her relatives give her gifts in a ritual that is called Bhaat Bharna.
The Mehndi is a vibrant function where the bride gets her hands painted with beautiful henna designs as her relatives sing, dance and make merry. A unique aspect of Marwari weddings is that the groom often gets some henna designs made as well.
Mudda Tikka or Sagai
The Mudda Tikka or the Sagai (engagement) ceremony generally takes place a day or two before the wedding. The groom and his family visit the bride’s family with gifts and sweets which are exchanged as the groom and the bride exchange rings. Nowadays, the Roka and Sagai are often clubbed into just one function.
The equivalent of a bachelor or bachelorette party in Marwari tradition, it is a night of dancing, feasting and entertainment that the bride and groom enjoy with their entourage and relatives. The bride’s party sees only women with the exception of the groom who is the only man allowed into the festivities. Likewise, the groom’s party includes only men. This is often held just before the wedding.
Traditionally called Mehfil, this function is known today as the Geet Samelan which marks an occasion of music and celebration where the entire family including the men and women come together to attend the same.
The Ratri Joga is a very auspicious ceremony held the night before the wedding, wherein the blessings of the ancestors are invoked by the families for a happy married life for the bride and groom.
The day of the wedding starts with the Telbaan function, held in the bride and groom’s house respectively. They are fed jaggery sweets called ghunghra, given shagun money by their maternal uncles and doused with mustard oil and curd.
The function is followed by Pitthi Dastoor, which is similar to the Haldi function. The bride and groom are covered in turmeric paste for a wedding glow and then washed with holy water.
A tradition unique to Marwari traditions, Thamb Puja is performed by the priest at the bride’s home, specifically by the pillars of the house, symbolic of a strong foundation for her future in the marriage.
The male members of the bride’s family along with the priest visit the groom’s family to invite them to the mandap, who in turn welcome them with sweets and food.
Just before they leave their home to go to the wedding venue, the groom’s family performs a Ganpati Puja to pray for a ceremony without any hiccups.
The Nikasi ceremony is performed by the groom’s sister right before the baraat sets off for the mandap. She ties the sehra on the groom and a golden thread on the beautifully decked up mare he mounts, to ward off any sign of evil. Once the priest does a small puja, the mother feeds the mare an auspicious mix of lentils, rice, sugar and ghee.
The groom then sets off to the wedding venue with his baraat amidst a milieu of dancing, singing family and friends reveling in high spirits.
The groom hits a neem tree with a stick just before arriving, to ward off evil energies. He then touches the toran (decorative entrance arch) as he enters.
The baraat is received by the bride’s family at the entrance of the wedding venue. The mother of the bride performs an aarti and feeds the groom sweets and water to welcome him.
Once the bride is brought to the mandap, she puts seven suhalis, a type of snack, over the groom’s head. They then exchange garlands.
Before the wedding ceremony proceeds, the ends of the groom’s and bride’s dupattas are tied together, signifying the conjoining of their souls.
Similar to all other cultures, for the Kanyadaan (giving away) ceremony the father officially gives his daughter’s hand in marriage to the groom. He asks him to accept his daughter and care for her and take care of her from that day forward. The bride is also asked to accept the groom, his family and their surname. The couple pledge their love and support for each other through thick and thin.
The father then places his daughter’s hand in that of the groom’s. Their hands are then connected together with a sacred thread binding them, marking the completion of the ritual.
The bride and groom then take seven circles around the holy fire as they chant the vows that would guide their marriage. The bride walks ahead for the first three and the groom leads for the next four.
The bride puts her foot on a grinding stone, pushing it forward seven times. The ritual symbolizes the bride facing any obstacles in her married life with determination and courage.
The bride’s brother hands her a handful of puffed rice three times for her to offer into the holy fire along with the groom. They then sit down, with her on his left side, symbolizing her having become a part of his family.
The couple then takes seven steps marking the beginning of their journey as husband and wife.
The groom applies sindoor or vermillion, a holy symbol of marriage in Indian culture, on the bride’s hair parting. The mother of the groom then gifts the bride a nath (nose-ring) which she is supposed to wear after the wedding.
This is one of the most important functions in Marwari weddings, where the father of the groom drapes a holy chunari around the bride, which she is supposed to keep with her after the wedding for all of eternity. He also gives the bride a bag of money she is supposed to divide equally and give to her sister-in-law and her husband. This symbolizes the acceptance of the bride into her new family and her taking responsibility of managing the family’s finances.
Once the wedding ceremony is over, the groom is showered with gifts by the bride’s family, and the couple is blessed by their relatives for a happy future. The bride performs a puja at the threshold to pay respects to her parental home and then breaks an earthen lamp with her foot.
A fun custom in most north Indian weddings, Joota Chupai is a bonding moment between the groom and bride’s family. Sometime during the wedding, the bride’s sisters steal the groom’s shoes, and when he gets up to leave after the ceremony, they ask him for money in exchange for the shoes, often turning into a hilarious negotiating game.
An elderly woman of the family comb’s the bride’s hair and freshens her up.
The bride’s family puts up an elaborate feast with some of the most delectable Rajasthani delicacies, including Dal Baati Choorma, Ker Sangri, Gatte ki curry, and more. The feast is traditionally served by the male members of the bride’s family. The eldest family member on the bride’s side feeds their counterpart on the groom’s side a sweet called Shank Jalebi, to signify preserving a sweet bond between the two families for life.
Before the Vidaai, fun wedding games are played at the bride’s home in a ritual called Jua Khilai. The games are accompanied with a lot of laughter and good humored teasing, and are designed to test the new couple’s compatibility.
A thali puja is performed for the couple in the kitchen of the bride’s home. A dried coconut filled with coins and sugar is given to the bride to be given to the mother-in-law. The couple is bid goodbye with a teary farewell. A coconut is broken beside the wheel of the car, after which they depart for the groom’s home.
The couple arrives at the groom’s home, where they are welcomed by his aunt who does an aarti. The bride knocks over a copper jar of rice and steps into an auspicious red dye, thereby walking into the house leaving her footprints. She is then asked to touch ghee, jaggery and a bag of money for prosperity, after which the couple lights a lamp in the temple of the house and distributes sweets.
An elderly lady of the house unveils the bride’s face by removing her dupatta, after which she is introduced to the whole family, seeking their blessings by touching their feet. She is then showered with gifts.
The groom’s mother gifts the bride a set of traditional lac choodas, a symbol of being a married woman.
After a couple of days, the couple visits the bride’s parental home, where they are received with a lot of excitement, gifts and a hearty, family meal.
Things you are sure to see in a Marwari Wedding
While most Indian weddings share common cultural and ritual nuances, there are some quintessentially Marwari moments that you absolutely cannot miss at a wedding.
More rituals than most
With a plethora of memorable rituals for pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding celebrations, Marwari weddings have more functions than most other cultures in India.
Honoring the bride’s financial authority
Marwaris are well known for their business instincts and prosperity. Culturally, they have several customs that invoke their god’s blessings for a prosperous future for their family, including the wedding. There are several rituals that ingrain the new bride into the groom’s family and by extension their finances, and bestowing upon her certain responsibilities to manage their home’s wealth.
With iconic dishes like Dal Baati Choorma, Ker Sangri, and to its credit, Marwari cuisine is sure to tickle any foodie-lover’s taste buds.
Fashion tips to immerse in the culture
Bandhani, Lehriya and mirror-work
The traditional craft of tie-and dye and mirror embellishments is an integral part of Marwari culture, and can instantly lend your ensemble an undeniable Gujarati flavor. Don breezy skirts, ghagharas, lehengas and sarees in vibrant hues.
A whirl of colors
Feel free to embrace the full spectrum of colors when it comes to building your wardrobe for a Marwari wedding. It is undeniably going to be the most vibrant celebration of your life.
A stately spin on the traditional suit jacket with a classy closed collar, this men’s style describes royal like nothing else. Mix and match with western silhouettes and Indian outfits to find your own personal style.
Pagdis or Safas are not only a big part of wedding traditions; they also add an air of sophistication to one’s attire. Opt for a uniform color or print with your friends or family for a memorable photo op.
This traditional flat sandal for both men and women, embroidered and embellished in beautiful patterns, is a must add to your wardrobe for not just Marwari weddings but all special functions.
Kundan and Polki
Nothing says regal quite like Kundan and Polki jewellery. Since most Marwari brides and their close family members are sure to be donning heavy pieces, opt for subtler options.
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