The custom of wedding or marriage defies a universally acceptable definition because of its sheer variety. In fact, it is the main custom through which a society renews itself. It is an integral part of any culture, and one of the most important in Indian culture and ethos. Talk about wedding and uber flamboyance, food, friends, relatives and a lot of fun and frolic come to mind. They call it the Big Fat Indian Wedding. Indian weddings are also full of fascinating rituals. Rituals that are closely related to the societal norms and, these broadly aim at the well-being of the bride and the groom. However, there are some rituals that are unique and slightly unique not to say peculiar in every region. Here is a list of a few such rituals that fall in this category.
1. The Tamil Wedding
All hell breaks loose if the groom decides to leave the wedding venue. But, this is exactly what happens at a Tamil Brahmin wedding! In a Tamil wedding, as per the custom, the groom enters the mandapa, but refuses to marry the bride. Now, to salvage this, the bride’s father performs ‘Kasi Yathirai’, a ritual where he convinces the groom to come back and accept Grahastham or the family life. The father uses the Gita, an umbrella, and a hand fan to get the groom back. This is a fun ritual that is diligently performed during any Tamil wedding.
2. The Bengali Wedding
Have you ever heard a river being invited for a wedding? Well, this is exactly what happens in every Bengali wedding. Before dawn, elderly ladies of both the bride and the groom’s family perform a small ceremony to invite Mother Ganga so that she can come and bless the couple for a happy and blissful married life.
3. The Uttar Pradesh Wedding
In some parts of Uttar Pradesh, the groom’s family is welcomed with tomatoes and potatoes along with swear words instead of flowers and garlands. In those communities, it is believed that what starts on a bad note, ends well. So, the elders of the family ensure that the wedding ritual starts with some ominous rituals so that the newly-weds lead a happy life.
4. Manipuri Wedding
During a Manipuri wedding, members of both the bride and the groom’s side release Taki fishes into a pond. It is believed that if the fishes swim side by side, it indicates that the newly-wed couple will always stay together and have a blissful life. This ritual is prevalent in all the regions of Manipur, and is inevitable as a part of the ceremony for any class and community.
5. The Sindhi Wedding
‘Saanth’ is a ritual that is performed before any Sindhi wedding takes place. During this ritual, an anklet is tied around the right feet of the bride and the groom by the priest who performs the wedding ceremony. After this, seven married women members of the family anoint the couple with oil. Once this is done, the couple needs to wear new footwear on their right feet first, and then break a few earthen lamps under them. And, to end this ritual, the members of the groom’s side tear off his clothes to ward off the evil eye (?). It is believed that this ritual is a good omen, and brings good luck to the newly-weds.
6. Bihari Wedding
A strange ritual is performed in all Bihari weddings. According to this ritual, earthen pots are placed on the bride’s head. With the earthen pots on her head, she is expected to seek blessings from all the elders in the family, without breaking any of them. This is a test for the bride to prove her skills. A bride who performs this ritual well is believed to understand the finer nuances of family life, and is expected to have a happy family post wedding balancing everything.
7. The Gujarati Wedding
In a Gujarati wedding, before the groom enters the wedding altar, he is greeted by the bride’s parents in an unusual way. The ritual is known as ‘Madhuparka’. In this ritual, the bride’s father washes the groom’s feet with honey and milk, mixed with rose petals and sandal paste. The groom is then expected to drink this potion before the wedding ceremony starts. According to the Gujaratis, this ritual is all about giving the groom a grand welcome to the mandap, where he weds the girl and accepts her for life.
8. Kumaoni Wedding
During the Kumaoni wedding, there is great deal of importance associated with flags. White flags are given to the members of the groom’s family and red flags are with the bride’s. All through the wedding, the white flag bearers move around the groom and members with red flag move around the bride. This custom is designed to identify the members of each side during the wedding rituals.
9. The Assamese Wedding
There is a unique ritual called ‘Juroon orTel Diya’ in Assam. In this ritual, the groom’s mother (or could be groom’s sister or aunt) puts a ring and betel leaf on the bride’s hair. After that she puts oil in her hair, and applies the sindoor (vermilion). Then the bride is given her wedding outfit and jewelry which she needs to wear throughout the wedding rituals. All women members of the family are present during this ritual.
10. The Punjabi Wedding
Punjabi weddings are generally famous for their pomp and flamboyance. But there are some unique customs too that make Punjabi weddings immensely heartwarming. ‘Ghada Gharoli’ is one such ritual. In this ritual, the bride’s mother and her brother’s wife go to a nearby temple and fill a pitcher full of water. This water is believed to be sacred. The bride then takes her bath with this water before wearing her wedding outfit (shagun ka joda). There is a lot of fun and revelry during this ritual and even though unique, holds a great deal of importance in Punjabi culture.
11. The Khasi Wedding (Meghalaya)
The Khasi tribe of Meghalaya probably have the most unique tradition when it comes to wedding. The Khasis follow a matriarchal culture in which women are given greater importance than the men. So, during a wedding too, women chose their grooms and not the other way round. Crowning this custom is the matrilocal residence where the groom shifts to the bride’s ancestral family contrary to what is practiced normally across India which has a patrilocal residence. Also, after the wedding, the bride is the custodian of the family wealth and the children also take their mother’s family name as their surname and not their father’s.