India is known for its diversity. People from various communities adhere to a set of traditions that has been passed on from generation to generation. And each community practise an eclectic set of rituals and ceremonies especially during weddings which centres on prosperity, longevity and overall happiness of the couple.
Although each ceremony has profound meaning and symbolism attached to it; although they mean well when performing these rituals; some of the customs in our weddings are strange and funny at best.
Here are some our favourites.
1. Toran Bandana: In Rajasthani weddings, the bride attacks the groom with a sword and tests his strength. If he’s unable to dodge it or gets injured he is considered to be unfit to marry the girl. This ritual is called toran bandana. These days it’s mere tradition where the bride pokes him with a sword and her relatives garland the groom’s party.
2. Who’s got your nose? In Gujarati weddings, the mother-in-law tries to pull the groom’s nose while he evades. Eventually he surrenders. This is done to break-the-ice between the two families. In Maharashtrian weddings, it’s the bride’s brother who twists the groom’s ear. This is done to remind the groom to take care of the bride or else.
3. The Shoe Hiding Game: In many Hindu weddings, the girls from the bride’s side of the family tries to swipe the groom’s footwear and hide it where he won’t be able to find them. Although the groom’s family try to protect them, somehow the girls succeed. And when the groom fails to find them, he must pay a compensation to the girls to get his shoes back.
4. Kaasi Yatra: In Tam-Brahm weddings, the groom is tempted to become a Sanyasi on the day of his wedding and he leaves the Mandap to begin his journey to the Himalayas. The father of the bride, stops him on his way out and urges him to reconsider and performs a ritual called Kaasi Yatra where he presents the groom with umbrella, sandals and hand-fans. Thus, he coaxes him back to marry his daughter.
5. Ring Finding game: In many South-Indian cultures, after tying the knot, the Iyer who hosts and performs the myriad rituals at the wedding will ask for the bride and groom’s rings and throws it in a pot filled with water/milk, flowers and other assorted items. He then asks the bride and groom to plunge their hands into the pot and see who gets all the rings first. The first one to get them determines the gender of their future children. When the bride finds all the rings, they’ll have girl children, and if each found a ring first then they’ll have one of each and so on.
6. Marriage Announcements: In some parts of Rajasthan, the groom is asked to ride on a camel all around his village for 49 days. At the end of which if no one objects to his marrying the bride, if no one claims he has promised another woman for her hand or anything, then he will be allowed to marry his betrothed.
7. The Pot Test: In Bihari weddings, after they invite the newly wedded couple to their home, the mother-in-law places an earthen pot on the bride’s head. And then she stacks more of those pots on top of each other and then asks the bride to balance it. Then she is asked to touch the elder’s feet while balancing the pots on her head. This is a test to see if the new bride can handle all the responsibilities of being a wife and a daughter-in-law at her new house.
8. The Fish Test: In Manipuri weddings, a relative from the bride’s side and one from the groom’s side releases a Taki fish in a pond. If they swim together, then it is believed that the couple will live happily together.
9. Ganga Aarti: In Bengali weddings, a ritual called Ganga Aarti is performed by all married women of the bride’s family. They wake up early at dawn and invite the goddess to the wedding. Ganga, the holy river and a goddess, will then bless the bride with a long and prosperous marriage.
10. Sithanis: In Punjabi weddings, the male members of both families hug each other and the female members recite hymns and verses. These verses are called Sithanis. They are filled with sexual innuendoes and everyone enjoys it with good spirit.
11. Manglik Bride: Someone who’s born at the time when both Mars and Saturn sits on the 7th house, according to astrology, this girl is said to bring an early death to her husband. So to break this curse, she is made to marry a tree which they then destroy. This symbolically breaks the curse and she won’t unwittingly cause harm to the man she next marries.