The Rich Maharashtrian wedding

The wedding is hosted by the family of the bride who consults the groom and his family about any special preferences. Though each community within Maharashtrians follows slighty different traditions, all of them look forward to this day of merrymaking and feasting.

The main deciding factor in arranging a Maharashtrian wedding is the grahas (stars) of the boy and the girl. Once the horoscope is matched, it is given to the respective Brahmins for Gun-Milan (matching points). If sixteen points match, the knot can be tied and the initiation of wedding begins.

Baithak  is a meeting of the elder relatives of both the families who decide on various issues regarding the actual muhurat (auspicious time). The engagement ceremony sakharpuda is held a day before the wedding, or on the morning of the wedding day. At this ceremony, the groom's parents gift a sari to the bride as a symbol of acceptance into their family. Her hands are adorned with bangdi (green bangles), symbolizing her engagement. She is also given a pack of sugar, representing the spread of sweetness.

A day before the wedding haldi (turmeric) paste is applied to the bride. In the haldi ceremony for the boy, a group of his female relatives apply haldi on him and douse him with water. This is a ritual meant to shear the groom of shyness. Though not a Maharashtrian custom at all, these days, more and more brides are including a mehendi ceremony in their lead-up to the big day. People in both houses or lagna-ghar, wake-up before dawn, to decorate their homes with fresh flowers.

On the day of the wedding, both the var (groom) and the vadhu (bride) are traditionally dressed. Most Maharashtrian brides get married in an emerald-green or topaz-yellow traditional Shalu (sarees) like Paithani, Puneri. The vadhu is decked with jewellery, gajra or veni (flowers) and brought by her maternal uncle into the pandal. The bride and the groom are made to stand apart, facing each other with garlands in their hands.

Between them is an antarpath, a plain white cloth with a swastika mark made with kumkum (vermillion). Both have karawali where the bride and groom are made to stand (as partners), holding a vessel with water and a coconut. The ceremony continues with the chanting of auspicious shlokas or mantras, with showers of coloured rice to greet the newly wed. They garland each other and the vadhu touches the groom’s feet to seek his blessings. This is followed by five married ladies from both the families performing an aarti of the newly weds.

After this, the couple sits down to perform various ceremonies. The ceremony kanyadaan when the bride's father gives her to the groom and the bride is ritually entrusted to the groom who promises to look after bride in a ceremony. The husband guides his wife as she steps on seven little mounds of rice, promising her friendship, love, togetherness, and respect forever.

The bride is vested with several symbols of marriage like the mangalsutra on her neck and the jodvi on her toes. The couple then performs the lajahome with the bride's brothers, where sacrificial cereal and ghee is offered to the sacred fire. All the ceremonies complete, the couple sits down to play various mischievous games, much to the delight of their family and friends.

After the sumptuous banquet, the bridal couple leaves for the groom's home accompanied by both the families. The bride's relatives see her to her new home where she is welcomed as the lakshmi of the house and the newly-weds start their married life showered with blessings of trust, love and longevity.

Post wedding celebrations

Reception: Though this is not a social requirement, many families choose to host a reception to celebrate the wedding and introduce the bride and groom to their friends, family and business associates. This may either be a simple affair, or as elaborate an event as desired, hosted in a hotel or marriage hall, with a live band and gourmet food.

Panch Pavan: This is a wedding feast served on the fifth day after the wedding by the bride’s family to the groom and his relatives.

-Archana Mahajan

Additional information