By Parul Singh Last Updated:
One of the most exciting moments of any Indian wedding is the arrival of the groom along with his wedding procession. This wedding procession is commonly known as the baraat (especially in North India), whereas all the invitees from the groom’s side are known as the baraatis. Dancing on the beats of music, the groom's procession reaches the wedding venue, where the entire family of the bride eagerly awaits to welcome them.
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Welcoming the groom is an important part of every Indian wedding. There are various rituals in different parts of India, which are followed by the bride’s family to welcome the groom and his guests on the wedding day. These rites symbolise the happiness of the bride’s family as they unite with the groom and his family. So, let us take a look at how the grooms and their baraats are welcomed in different ways across India.
In a Gujarati wedding, welcoming of the groom is known as Ponkvu or Ponkhana. As the groom reaches the wedding venue with his family and friends, his mother-in-law receives him by performing an aarti. Following this, she playfully tries to grab his nose. An amusing welcome, isn’t it?
The groom then enters the venue by crushing a few earthen pots into small pieces, signifying that he has the power to overcome any hindrance in his married life. The groom is then taken to the mandap, where Ganesh pujan is done followed by the rest of the ceremonies.
The ritual of welcoming the groom and his procession in Punjabi culture is known as milni. The ritual is followed in both, the Sikh as well as the Hindu-Punjabi weddings. It is intended to introduce the family members of both the sides with each other. Once the baraat reaches the venue, the bride’s brother receives the groom and brings him down from his ghodi or chariot. And before starting the ritual of milni, an ardaas (prayer) is performed by the priest. Following this, the milni (meeting and introduction) of the main male members of the bride’s family is done with the respective male members of the groom’s family. For example, the milni of maternal grandfather of the groom is done with the maternal grandfather of the bride, and so on.
During each meeting, the two members exchange garlands and the bride’s relatives gift cash and clothes to the groom’s relatives. These gifts, known as shagun, are considered to be a token of good luck. The groom along with the baraat is then taken inside the venue by the bride’s family for other rituals.
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Once the groom reaches the wedding venue with his relatives and guests, Seemaan puja is conducted by the bride’s parents. Seemaan means the boundary. While earlier this puja used to be conducted at the boundary of the bride’s home or village, but these days, this ritual is performed at the entrance of the wedding venue.
In this puja, the bride’s parents first wash the feet of the groom. Then they apply kumkum tilak (vermilion mark) and akshata (turmeric stained rice) on his forehead while performing an aarti. The groom is then made to sit on a square stool, chaurang, where he is showered with gifts and blessings by the bride’s parents.
With friends and relatives on his side, the groom reaches the wedding venue. But, entering the venue is not an easy task for the groom or his procession, as he is welcomed by a shower of rice that is thrown on them by the bride’s family. The groom’s best friend is supposed to hold an umbrella and save him from being hit. He even has to pay heavy cash (shagun) to enter the marriage venue.
Once things settle down, the bride's mother performs aarti, and her sister washes the groom’s feet. The bride’s sister is also rewarded after completing the ceremony with a gift. The groom generally dresses up in traditional dhoti, kurta and cheleng ( a form of a shawl) given by the bride’s side. Next, the bride’s brother lifts up the groom and take him to the wedding hall.
On the wedding day, the bride and the groom are supposed to take the mangalsnanam (ceremonial bath). This happens in the morning during an auspicious hour as suggested by the priest. The bride and the groom are anointed with kumkum, turmeric, and oil by their parents at their respective homes. Just before the time of wedding ceremony, the groom performs the ceremony of Kashi Yatra. Dressed in a veshti (the traditional garment for men), he pretends as if he is heading to Kashi, and is no longer interested in becoming a householder.
The groom is then stopped by the bride’s father where he tries to convince him to return. He offers his daughter’s hand in marriage, and once the groom is convinced, the bride’s father takes him to the mandap. After that, the bride's mother washes his feet with water, chandan and kumkum, following which, the bride is called into the mandap. This ritual is known as Pada puja.
Being a diverse country, the wedding traditions in India vary from place to place. But, no matter how different the customs are, they all celebrate the union of two families with the emotions of love and happiness.