All About The Patel Wedding

 

Sardar Vallabhai Patel hailed from this community, and in more recent times, Dev Patel, the actor who made it big in the highly-acclaimed film, Slumdog Millionaire, came from this community.

Marriage Rituals

Pre-nuptial ceremonies

Chandlo Maatli is a ceremony to announce the acceptance of the alliance between the families of the boy and the girl. The bride's father and four other male members of the family carry a few auspicious items and visit the groom's house and apply 'chandlo'/'tikka', a mark with vermilion, on the groom's forehead and give him a token sum of money as a gesture of blessing. An auspicious date for the wedding is finalized after consulting the astrologer.

Ganesh Sthapan

Before the commencement of all marriage rituals in the Patel household, Lord Ganesha's blessings are invoked with this puja. This prayer is attended by all the close family members to propitiate the God to make sure everything goes well.

Mandap Mahurat

Imbued with deep significance, this ceremony conducted by a priest has the parents of the to-be-wed couple seeking the blessings of Mother Earth. This is done before the ground is dug to erect the 'mandap' (platform erected for the wedding rites covered with a canopy)

Pithi

In this ceremony, performed simultaneously in both homes, the bride and groom are prepared for the nuptials. A paste called 'pithi' is made of sandalwood powder, turmeric, herbs, aromatic oils and rose water and applied on the faces, arms and legs of the bride by the female members of her family. The 'kaaki' also conducts a short ceremony called 'ookarhi nautarvi' in which she keeps an iron nail, betel nut and an Indian one-rupee coin in a shallow hole dug by the priest to ban the entry of evil spirits to the wedding venue.

Mehendi

This is an intimate gathering of the bride's female relatives and close friends two days before the wedding. Intricate henna patterns are drawn by professional 'mehendiwallis' on the palms and feet of the bride. Songs specific to the occasion are sung and a meal is served.

Garba and dandia raas

On the evening of the 'mehendi', the family and friends gather together dressed in traditional finery and sing and dance to the beat of the dhol (drum). The women form a circle to dance the graceful 'garba' and the men may join in later in an energetic 'dandia raas'.

Wedding rituals

Grah Shanti

This is a very important religious ceremony as the officiating priests on the behalf of the parents, ask the deities to ensure harmony and peace during their children's wedding. The bride takes a coconut to her parents seated in front of the sacred fire and seats herself beside them. While the priest is performing the 'puja' she hands this 'shriphal' (coconut) to her parents, who in turn hand it over to the priest for 'ahuti' (sacrifice). The coconut is consigned to flames, thus propagating peace and harmony between all the nine planets. Similar ceremonies are conducted in the groom's home the day before.

Mosaalu

The custom of 'mosaalu' originated centuries ago when there were no legal rights existing for daughters. It was customary for the parents to start making provisions for their daughter by gifting her with things on occasions like 'rakshabandhan' or 'bhaibheej'. These gifts accumulated as 'streedhan' (daughter's wealth). When the girl grows up and gets married the 'mama' or maternal uncle comes with the 'mosaalu' consisting of clothes, jewellery and other gift items including the traditional 'paanetar' (silk wedding sari - usually white with red border) and 'choodo' (ivory bangle - now replaced with acrylic or plastic). Similarly for the groom, his maternal uncle will present him with wedding clothes.

Varghodo

The groom, dressed in all his finery and accompanied by his close friends and family, proceeds to the bride's home/wedding venue in a decorated car. Here, the modern day vehicle has replaced the traditional mare! On disembarking at the wedding venue, the groom is greeted by the bride's family. While the groom, dressed in all his finery and holding a 'katar'(small dagger) prepares to leave, the priest gives his sister a small bowl covered in cloth and containing coins with the Hindu Swastika on them. She rattles this bowl over the groom's head to drive away any evil eye and to remind him that even after wedding he should remember his sister. His father's sister-in-law puts a garland on him and gives him a bunch of flowers.

Var Ponke

The bride's mother receives the groom and his 'baraat' (procession) at the entrance of the wedding venue. She performs the traditional 'aarti' for the groom, applies the 'kumkum' (vermilion) and rice 'tikka' on his forehead. Before the groom can enter the premises, he is made to step onto a 'bajat' (low stool) where the bride's mother performing the 'aarti' and applying the 'tikka' for him once again accords him a ceremonial welcome.

The bride's mother places two clay pots filled with rice on the ground and the groom breaks them before entering the wedding 'mandap'. The groom's aunt presents the bride who at this time worships the shrine of Lord Ganesha, with the 'kanya shelu' consisting of a platter with a sari, some jewelry, pretty slippers and a 'mangalsutra', a red thread with black beads strung on it.

Kanyadaan and Varmaala

With the sari draped around her shoulders and the 'mangalsutra' tied around her neck, the bride is escorted by her maternal uncle to welcome the groom. She now sits facing him. The priest puts the 'tikka' on both their foreheads and blesses them.

The bride's parents apply 'tikka' on the couple and the bride's father performs the 'kanyadaan'. This is done by tying the hands of the bride and groom together in a marital knot known as the 'hastha melap'. The bride's right hand is placed in the groom's right hand and they both reach out over the unlit fire below. With this gesture, the father of the bride symbolizes this promise: "I offer you this most precious gift of my daughter to take as your own, to cherish and to protect". The bride's mother connects the couple by tying the 'varmaala' (a length of sacred red thread) across them and looping it like a garland over their hands. After the ceremony the 'varmaala' is removed and put around the bride's neck like a garland.

Mangal Pheras

The priest lights the sacred fire amid Vedic chants. The couple circles the fire four times. At the beginning of each 'parikrama', a vow is taken. The groom leads the bride the first three times and the fourth time he is led by her. These are called 'mangal pheras'. After the last 'phera' there is a small tussle to see who gets back to the seat first!

The couple is then proclaimed man and wife and the ceremony is completed with the groom tying the 'mangalsutra' on the bride. The couple then leaves the 'mandap' to seek the blessings of the elders of both families by touching their feet.

Vidai or the bridal send-off

After the 'lagna', the bride leaves her parental home in a 'doli' or palanquin or groom's decorated car. The bride bids a tearful farewell to her parents, family and friends and it is meant to be a symbolic severing of the bride's rights in her parent's home as she now belongs to her 'sasural' (in-laws home).

Post-wedding celebration

Wedding reception

Most Patel families hold a wedding reception, to celebrate the marriage of the young couple with a grand dinner at a hotel inviting many guests to bless the couple.

Additional information