Gujarat is the land of colors! The warmth of the Gujarati people, the delectable vegetarian cuisine, the exquisite bandhani art or patola weave and the rich culture of the state – all can be exclusively experienced at a Gujarati wedding. A wedding in the Gujarati community is not only plump with pomp and grandeur, it is also replete with numerous interesting and meaningful tradition.
A Gujarati wedding is a three-four day long affair where every day is significant with traditions and customs. The fashion for each ceremony is also well-defined. Today we will tell you more about Gujarati wedding traditions. We will also outline the fashion practices for each occasion. This blog takes you on a roller-coaster journey of the Gujarati wedding which is glamorous, rich, replete with traditions yet immensely enjoyable.
Culture at a Gujarati Wedding
To get a 360 degree view of a Gujarati wedding it is important to understand the culture of the people. Like every other state and culture in India, Gujarat too has sub-cultures. The wedding customs may differ from community to community within the Gujarati society.
Image : gujarat_wedding | Get Indian Wedding Wear
Traditional Gujarati families still prefer to form marital unions within their sub-castes and cultures. Though caste is still given importance in the community, a great thing about the Gujarati culture is that both sides, that is, the side of the groom and that of the bride, are given equal respect and importance in all the marital customs.
Now let’s take a look at the various wedding customs in a Gujarati wedding.
Pre Wedding Customs & Rituals in Gujarati Wedding
1. Chandlo Matli – Acceptance
This custom is conducted to formally announce the marriage. In other words, Chandlo Matli is a sign of acceptance of the union. For this ceremony, the father of the bride visits the groom’s house with a matli or steel utensil containing sweets and gifts for the groom and his family. The bride’s father is accompanied by four important male members of the bride’s family.
Before handing over the shagun – matli full of gifts and symbolic cash money – to the groom, the bride’s father draws a red circle or chandlo with vermillion on the forehead of his ‘would be’ son-in-law. The date of the Gujarati wedding is also fixed at this ceremony.
2. Gol Dhana or Sagai – The Official Engagement
This ceremony takes place at the groom’s house. The bride and her family arrive at the groom’s house for the ceremony where the bride and the groom exchange rings. Gol Dhana means coriander seeds and jaggery.
According to custom, these things are distributed among guests at the ceremony. Five married women, from each side, bless the couple. The function takes place around a couple of days before the wedding. It ends with a grand feast where friends, relatives and other guests participate.
3. Mehendi – Painting her Hands with Henna
Mehendi ceremony takes place a day or two prior to the wedding, at the bride’s house. Wearing mehendi is an integral part of the Gujarati wedding. Beautiful and intricate designs are drawn with henna leaf paste on the palms and sometimes, even feet of the bride. It is believed that the deeper the color of the designs, the more love the bride will receive from her groom.
Other members of the family also wear mehendi. In most households, it is an all-women occasion. Women sing songs and dance among themselves during the ceremony.
4. Sangeet Sandhya or Sanji – An Evening of Dance, Music and Fun
The sangeet ceremony usually takes place on the eve of the wedding day. In some households, it might also be observed right after the mehendi ceremony. This time, the groom and his family come to the house of the bride where this ceremony is arranged. Friends and relatives also come to take part in the fun and frolic.
This event also goes a long way in easing out the relationship between the two families. Modern song and dance, folk songs, as well as traditional Garba and Dandiya dances find place on this evening.
5. Mameru or Mosaalu – Gifts of Love
This ritual, unique to a Gujarati wedding, takes place at the house of the bride, usually a day or two before the wedding. The mama or maternal uncle of the bride visits her with gifts of various kinds like sweets, saree, bangle, jewellery etc.
6. Mandap Mahurat & Prayer to Lord Ganesha
This ceremony is observed in both households. The mandap mahurat is basically a puja offered to Lord Ganesha at the beginning of all the rituals relating directly to the wedding.
A priest offers the puja, praying for the removal of any possible obstacle in the wedding ceremonies. Parents of both the bride and the groom also pray to Mother Earth before the construction of the wedding mandap. After the prayer, they dig a piece of land to mark the start of the construction of the mandap.
7. Grah Shanti – Warding Off Obstacles
This is also a puja performed by a priest, at both households. Usually, horoscopes of the bride and the groom are matched before the planning of a Gujarati wedding. This may indicate some adverse planetary positions. To ward off any such obstacle in the conjugal life of the bride and the groom, this puja is offered.
8. Pithi – The Beauty Ritual
Image : weddingsonline.india
This ceremony is similar to haldi ceremony in the weddings of other cultures in India. Instead of just turmeric paste, a paste of pure sandalwood, turmeric, rosewater and perfume is made for this ritual.
This ritual takes place at both houses separately. Usually, the kaki or paternal aunt of the bride or the groom prepares this paste. The bride or the groom sits on a low stool, while their relatives and friends apply this paste on their hands, feet and face. Then they are taken for a bath. This ritual takes place on the wedding morning.
9. Baraat or Varghoda – The Groom Arrives
The baraat refers to the groom and a party of people consisting of his friends and family who accompany him to the bride’s house. The sister of the groom waves a pouch of coins over the head of the groom to keep off any bad luck or the “evil eye”. Then the procession sets off with the groom on horseback and the accompanying party dances and bursts crackers while arriving at the house of the bride.
10. Ponkvu & Jaan– Welcoming the Groom
As the groom arrives at the venue, the bride’s family welcomes him and the rest of the baraat with a lot of grandeur. Then the bride’s mother performs aarti of the groom and applies a tika on his forehead. It’s now time for a unique ritual of a Gujarati wedding.
As the groom touches the feet of the bride’s mother, she tries to catch hold of his nose to pull him inside the venue and he tries to avoid this. It goes without saying that this is done for a fun purpose! This custom signifies the gratitude and respect that the groom should give his mother-in-law as the latter is giving away her precious child, her daughter to this man.
11. Jaimala – Exchanging Garlands
The bride and the groom meet for the first time on the wedding day with this ritual which commences the start of the main wedding rituals. They exchange garlands thereafter. In the first round of exchange, the groom stands on a higher pedestal, usually using a stool. For the second round, he steps down to mark equality in the marriage.
12. Madhuparka – Washing His Feet
Image : mizaevents
After the jaimala, the groom is led by his mother-in-law to the mandap, where his feet are washed with water and milk. Then he is asked to take a sacred drink made up of milk, honey, ghee, sugar and yoghurt called the panchamrit.
13. Antarpaat – Placing the Opaque Cloth
The bride now arrives at the mandap led by her maternal uncle and an opaque cloth is placed between the bride and the groom like a curtain as the mantras of the Gujarati wedding is chanted.
14. Kanyadaan – Giving the Daughter
This ritual symbolizes the father of the bride placing his trust on his son-in-law. From now on, his son-in-law is responsible for the happiness of his daughter.
15. Hasta Milap – Tying the Sacred Knot
The priest now ties one end of the groom’s shawl to one end of the bride’s saree while chanting the sacred verses.
16. Pheras – Four Goals of Life
Unlike other Indian cultures, in a Gujarati wedding, the couple takes four pheras, instead of seven, around the sacred fire. The four pheras have immense significance in the marriage. Each of them symbolizes one goal of human life –Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
17. Saptapadi – Seven Steps of Togetherness
This ritual involves the couple taking seven steps together, as the priest cites mantras. Then they recite the seven sacred vows.
18. Sindoor Daan – The Sacred Vermillion
The groom shall, in this ritual, smear the sacred vermillion on sindoor on the forehead of the bride. Then we will tie the mangalsutra – another important sign of marriage – around the neck of his bride
19. Kansar – Last Step of the Wedding Rituals.
As the core wedding rituals end, the bride and the groom feed each other sweets.
Post Wedding Rituals & Customs
20. Saubhagyavati Bhava & Ashirvaad – Time for Blessings
As the main marriage rituals commence, it is time for the newly-wed couple to seek blessings from the elders. But first, seven married women bless the couple. While blessing the bride they say “Akhanda Saubhagyavati Bhava”, meaning ‘may you remain gloriously married forever’. Then the couple seeks blessings from the other elder members of both families.
21. Chero Pakaryo – A Mother & Son Matter
Now comes the time for the fun rituals of a Gujarati wedding. In this ritual, the groom catches and pulls the saree pallu of his mother-in-law asking for more gifts. Then her pallu is filled with gifts and cash by the elders present. This gift is sent to the groom later.
22. Joota Churai – Time for the Groom to Pay Up
This fun ritual has been immensely popularized by Bollywood and most of us know a little bit about it. The bride’s sisters demand money against the groom’s wedding footwear. For this they need to steal the shoes and hide it somewhere till they get their cash. The stealing of shoes is usually done by the gang of sisters during madhuparka.
23. Vidaai – Time for Goodbyes
Image : framedfigments
It is finally time for the beautiful Gujarati bride to leave her paternal home and embark on the journey of a new life with her husband. It is an emotional moment at the Gujarati wedding as the bride, her parents, her siblings and other close friends and family members are unable to stop their tears. The bride takes some rice in her hands and puts it on the pallu of her mother, thanking her for all her parents have done for her.
24. Ghar Nu Lakshmi – The One Who Brings Fortune
The Gujarati bride is welcomed by her in-laws as the Goddess Lakshmi who shall bring in fortune and good luck into the house. A kalash full of rice is placed on the threshold of the main door and while entering the house, the bride is supposed to spill the rice by gently knocking down the kalash with her right foot. Then her mother-in-law conducts an aarti of the new bride and applies a tika on her forehead.
25. Aeki Beki – The Game of Dominance
Image : wedding_affair
This is a fun game that the couple is asked to play. A round tray is filled with a mixture of milk and vermillion. Some coins and a ring are put in the tray. The opaque milky pink color of the liquid makes it impossible to spot the ring. The couple is asked to look for the ring by immersing their fingers into the liquid. The game is played in four rounds. Whoever finds it first for the most number of turns is considered to be the ruling force in the household.
26. The Reception Party
This party is thrown by the groom’s family to introduce the new member to their friends and relatives.
In many Indian cultures, marriage customs are inclined to pay more attention towards the groom’s side. But in the case of the Gujarati wedding this is not the case.
Most Gujaratis are hard-core vegetarians. Gujarati cuisine consists of numerous vegetarian delicacies that are quite different from the usual vegetarian cuisine of India. Many Gujarati curries and lentil dishes require sugar, which gives them a uniquely delicious taste.
Gujaratis are foodies and the dinner served at the wedding is something that both guests and families look forward too. Apart from the dinner, farsaan or various kinds of appetizing fried snacks are served throughout the wedding.
Gujarat is a land of tribes, folk dances, folk music and tribal culture. These things have penetrated all strata of the Gujarati society. In certain wedding functions too, the influence of this folk culture is evident. Traditional dances like Garba and Dandiya also form part of some functions at a Gujarati wedding.
Gujarati Wedding Fashion & the Traditional Weave
Gujarat is proud to boast some of the most popular Indian weaves and art forms. From tie and dye bandhani art to the gorgeous patola weaves, from the tribal mirror and embroidery art to the mashru weave and ajrakh dyeing – the list is endless. Most of these traditional art and weaves forms finds place in the Gujarati wedding fashion.
The Gujarati bride wears two sarees on the day of her wedding. These are – the panetar saree and the gharchola saree.
The Panetar Saree or Lehenga
Image : riddhi_merchant | Get Indian Wedding Wear
On the day of the Gujarati wedding the bride wears a traditional red and white saree called Panetar. Panetar sarees have a bright texture and are typically made up of gajji silk. They may either be plane or embellished with zari threadwork. With changing taste in fashion, some Panetar sarees come with stone work as well nowadays. According to customs, the maternal uncle or mama of the bride gifts the wedding Panetar saree. This saree is worn by the bride during the initial rituals of the wedding.
With the popularity of the lehenga-choli among Indian women, as the ideal bridal attire, a new variation has emerged – the Panetar style wedding lehenga. This latest trend is being adored by the Gujarati brides nowadays as this red and white or red and cream or golden lehenga is a perfect harmony between tradition and fashion. Panetar style lehengas are much in demand among Gujarati brides both in India and abroad.
Image : be_kasida_haat | Get Indian Wedding Wear
Bridal Jewellery with the Panetar Saree
Brides at a Gujarati wedding wear heavy traditional jewellery like gold, kundan and jadau pieces as they go well with the metallic gold embroidery of the Panetar sarees. Jadau jhumkas also called kan ni butti is immensely popular too. Brides look gorgeous if they go for traditional jewellery pieces like the nathani or nose ring, armlets, anklets, bangles, maang-tika and kamar-bandh.
The Gharchola Saree
Image : bhoomi_ethnic | Get Indian Wedding Wear
The Gharchola silk is gifted by the groom’s family to the bride as a sign of welcoming her into the family. Usually, her soon-to-be mother-in-law hands this saree over to the bride. This is a bandhani saree which typically comes in either a rich red or maroon color along with zari work. The Gharchola is draped in the typical Gujarati style with the pallu fanned out in front. The bride wears the Gharchola for the later customs of a Gujarati wedding, especially the vidaai.
It would not be wrong to call Gharchola sarees pieces of art! Each saree is a result of meticulous craftsmanship. They are made up of cotton silk fabric and have check-like woven patterns all over. The bandhani pattern also follows this grid structure which means that these sarees are first woven and then dyed. Some of the sarees are further embellished with zari, stones etc to increase the richness.
These embellishments or ornamentations also sometimes include various wedding scenes embroidered on the saree. Embroidered floral or animal and bird patterns also find place in some Gharchola sarees.
Accessories and Jewellery with the Gharchola Saree
Embellished bindis are necessary accessories with the Gharchola saree. Some of the traditional jewellery pieces with this saree are the gala nu har, kan ni butti, nathni, bajubandh, bangadiand patla, chandlo and chadda. You can also choose kanjivaram or banarasi saari
Patan Patola Sarees
A discussion on the traditional weaves and wedding fashion of Gujarat is incomplete without the mention of the Patan Patola sarees. These sarees are legendary. Patolas are intertwined with Gujarati history, heritage and culture and are quite expensive too. Patal Patolas are considered auspicious and make great gifts to mothers-in-law.
A Patan Patola from the old days is very rare and a family owning one considers it heirloom. Like expensive jewellery, such a saree gets passed on to the next generation during a Gujarati wedding.
Rajkot Patolas are comparatively less expensive and women of the family – both young and old – often choose to wear these sarees during the wedding festivities. Patola lehenga cholis are also popular nowadays.
Image : geetima.weebly.com | Get Indian Wedding Wear
On the day of the wedding, the Gujarati groom wears dhoti-kurta. These days most grooms prefer the sherwani or the Indo-western kurta-pajama as well. Most grooms accessorize with colorful bandhani dupattas. The turban, matched with the rest of the outfit, is an important part of the groom’s attire at a Gujarati wedding. The turban is often adorned with pearls, precious stones and bright embroidery.
Now that you know all about the Gujarati wedding, the various, customs, rituals and culture associated with it, don’t shy away from attending one. But remember that as a guest at a Gujarati wedding, you can’t skip on your ethnic wear. You can wear a Rajkot patola saree, a bandhani saree or a simple lehenga-choli.
As the fashion at a Gujarati wedding is immensely colorful and completely ethnic, wearing Indo-western clothes may make you look completely out-of-place. Women, who don’t prefer saree, may go for a bandhani salwar kameez or an ethnic crop top with a ghagra-style skirt. Men who don’t want to wear anything heavy can go for a plain silk kurta and pajama. If you are looking for the ideal outfit of a guest at a Gujarati wedding, or if you are looking for traditional Gujarati outfits for your own wedding or any other occasion, you will get all this and more at GetEthnic.