Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The natives of the North Indian state Rajasthan, Rajputs, believe that they are the direct descendants of the Kshatriya clan, the original Aryans. The word “Rajput” means king’s son or prince and so one can see glimpses of royal touch in their weddings filled with richness and extravagance.

In the pre wedding rite ‘Tilak’ or the engagement ceremony, performed at the groom’s house and attended only by the male members of the bride’s family, the bride’s brother applies a “Tilak”/”Bindi” to the groom’s forehead so that the engagement becomes official. The gifts given to the groom include a sword, clothes, fruits and sweets.

“Ganapath Sthapana” the installation of an idol of Lord Ganesha and “Griha Shanthi”, performed to propitiate the Gods are also very important rituals.

“Pithi Dastoor,” is a ritual for the bride and the groom held in their respective houses. From seven days before the wedding, each day a paste of turmeric and oil applied to their faces, arms and feet till the wedding day. Once this ceremony begins they are banned to leave their houses.

During the Pithi Dastoor and through out the wedding ceremony women singers like ‘dholans’ with ‘dholaks’and ‘mehfils’ and male ‘mehfils’ sing various auspicious pre wedding and wedding songs for men and women separately in the homes of the bride and groom. The musical instruments like ‘Shehnai’ and ‘nagara’ are played in the courtyard or garden.

In the ceremony “Mahira dastoor” the maternal uncle of the bride or the groom gives clothes, jewelry and sweets to the whole family. “Janey” ceremony is important for the groom as he wears the sacred thread on the eve of his wedding, dressed in saffron. The “Padla dastoor”, a custom observed only by the Rajputs, is held a day prior to the wedding or on the wedding day wherein the groom’s relatives bring gifts like clothes, jewelry etc for the bride to wear during the wedding ceremony.

The bridal costume is a resplendent traditional Rajasthani “Poshak” for the wedding ceremony usually red in color, but orange, yellow, gold and pink ‘poshaks’ are also preferred. The bride wears certain traditional jewelry that have their own significance. The “Rakhri”, a circular piece worn on the forehead at the parting of the hair emphasizes that she should always be straight forward. Her ears have danglers that advise her never to listen to gossip. “Timaniyaan”, a choker encrusted with uncut diamonds indicate that she should always show humility by bowing her head. A set of ivory and gold bangles, ‘chudda’ tells her to help the poor and needy. She also wears gold and stone-studded “bajuband”/armlets, gold anklets reminding her to ‘put the right foot forward’, gold toe-rings known as “bichhiya” and a stone-studded “nath”/nose ring tells her to spend within what her husband can afford.

The Rajput ‘baraat’/wedding procession, an all male affair, has the groom dressed in a gold “achkan”, an orange turban decorated with a ‘sirpech’, a ‘churidar’ or jodhpurs and ‘jootis’/shoes that are highlighted with a necklace and a cummerbund. The groom proceeds to the wedding venue mounted on a decorated mare or elephant along with a child and sporting a sword. The male members from his family carrying swords and a band playing the hit songs accompany the groom.

The males in the bride’s family welcome the groom’s party and the groom is taken to the ladies section where bride’s mother receives him with the traditional “Aarti” and directs him to the wedding altar. A “Pujari”(Brahmin priest) officiates the wedding ceremony by lighting the sacred fire and chanting Vedic mantras/hymns. Tying the groom’s shawl to the bride’s ‘duppata’ or veil the couple walks around the fire seven times/seven ‘pheras’ at the end of which the groom adorns the bride’s wrist with green glass bangles. The bride all the while wears a veil over he face.

When the bride leaves her house for the “Grihapravesh” ceremony the groom’s family blesses her with showering flowers and coins. The bride enters the “Sasural”/father-in-law’s house with her right foot first followed by certain games between the bride and groom. In “Pagelagani” the veiled bride is introduced to all family members ending with the removal of the veil.

Leave a Reply