Choliya band performing at the wedding function at Kumaoni, Uttarakhand.
Kumaoni weddings are very simple but are solemnized with a number of rituals and traditions. In the villages and in interiors traditionally, a white flag called ‘Nishan’ leads the marriage procession representing the bridegroom, followed by drummers, pipers and a white palanquin carrying the groom. The last man of the procession carries another flag, of red colour, representing the bride. When the marriage party returns from the girl’s home after completing all ceremonies, the red flag takes the lead followed by a red palanquin of the bride, succeeded by the white palanquin of the groom, and the white flag at the tail end of the procession.
The main rituals carried out in Kumaoni weddings are as given below:
Before the Wedding day :
Engagement: Just like all across the globe, engagement or Tika is a formal ring ceremony organised for the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be. It isn’t very common to organize engagement in Kumaoni Culture and surprisingly enough instead of the girl-boy exchanging rings it’s the boys brother ( normally brother) who gives the ring to his would be sister in law and the grooms ring is given to the younger brother normally on the wedding day itself;
Mehendi (Henna Tattoo): Applying mehendi to hands and feet (at times) as is customary in Hindus on all major festivals and celebrations. It is an important part of a Kumaoni weddings as well.
On the Wedding day :
As per Hindu mythology the bride and the groom take the positions of Goddess Laxmi & Lord Vishnu during their wedding and are treated likewise. Ganesh Puja :As in the rest of India,in Kumaon too, Lord Ganesha is worshiped as Lord of beginnings and remover of obstacles therefore, any and every auspicious work starts after offering prayers to Lord Ganesha and requesting him to accomplish the task without any obstacles.
Suwal Pathai: This ritual is very specific to Kumaoni traditions wherein wheat flour is kneaded into dough and rolled into rotis but a little thinner and dried in the sun after dipping in dry flour. Once dry, these are fried in oil and form a part of the offering to gods and all guests. Duliargh(Offering prayers to the groom) : Bride’s father along with his priest worships the groom (Lord Vishnu) & his priest. The groom’s feet are washed by his would be father-in-law, he’s offered ‘pithya” & sweets (and other things as per one’s ability & constraints). Varmaala(Garland exchange) : After Duliargh, the groom proceeds to the center stage (with all eyes looking for & waiting for him, specially relatives from the bride’s side). Once he reaches there, the bride joins him in next few minutes. Friends and close relatives of the bride & the groom may accompany them on the stage at this time. Flower garlands are exchanged between the bride and the groom.
Kanya Daan: The last but the most event is the Kanya Daan. Several holy rituals and ceremonies are done as per ‘lagna’. This ritual takes lasts very long normally the entire night untill morning.
Bidai: Once the marriage has been solomanized, the bride is sent with the groom. This tradition is called Bidai and is carried out in the morning after sun rise.
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