A state in the Western part of India with its people famous for their devotion to Lord Krishna, their food predominantly vegetarian and the traditional attire of women including mangalsutras, nose rings and bindis best describes Gujarat and its people. Thus when you have a culture that stands out so strong, you are bound to have wedding rituals that are sacred and long lasting.
Gujarati weddings begin with the Gol Dhana which translates as ‘jaggery and coriander seeds’, a ceremony wherein a mix of these two are distributed. Once this is over do the wedding ceremonies begin.The actual wedding ceremony is an auspicious affair which consists of prayers and vows. These are recited by the priest and couple in Sanskrit, a historical language.
A Gujarati wedding typically begins with the sounding of a traditional wind instrument known as a shehnai and an Indian drum known as a tabla followed by a procession. This wedding procession, known as the Baraat is a journey which starts from the groom’s house.The groom makes his way to the temple where the Swagat happens. At the door of the temple he is welcomed by the bride’s family. The bride’s mother places a red dot on his forehead to bless him before the wedding c
The wedding rituals begin with a Ganesh Puja wherein the couple and the families seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles.Once the puja has been performed the bride’s parents perform the Madhuparka which is washing of the groom’s feet as a mark of welcoming him to the mandap, the four pillars under which the wedding will take place. They then offer him panchamrut which is a mix of milk, ghee, honey, sugar and yogurt.
Like in all Indian caste weddings, the wedding can take place once the bride’s father or guardian, generally an uncle, performs the Kanyadaan which is the ‘giving away of the bride’. In this ceremony the bride spreads turmeric powder on her palms signifying the change in her status from an unmarried woman to a bride.
Once the Kanyadaan has been performed the Vivaah, the wedding ceremony takes place. The priest ties a part of the bride’s garment to the groom’s whilst they face each other. This knot symbolizes the sacred union between the couple. They then wear each other garlands and exchange rings before family and friends before they offer their prayers to the sacred fire, Agni.
After a series of prayers, the couple then perform the circumambulation of the sacred fire, also known as Mangal Phera. The three steps are taken offering hymns for prosperity, good fortune and fidelity.
A significant part of a Gujarati wedding ceremony is the seven steps around the sacred fire, Saptapadi, each signifying a promise the couple make towards each other. On concluding this, a prayer is performed pronouncing them husband‐wife in an everlasting union.
The groom now wears his bride the Mangal Sutra, a beaded necklace containing the marks of Vishnu or Shiva and places red vermillion power, Sindoor, on her head. These two elements symbolize the Indian bride as a married woman.
Once the rituals are over, the couple then bow down to take blessings also known as Aashirvaad from the groom’s parents. While they do this, family and friends at the wedding shower them with flowers. This marks the completion of the wedding ceremony and the start of a journey as husband‐wife.