Monthly Archives: July 2013

Wedding Rituals of India–Funny and Strange

In Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific, I read somewhere, it is customary for a bridegroom to walk on the wedding guests!! When the groom arrives the guests lie down and the groom steps on each one of them, like one would walk on the road, to reach his to be father-in-law’s house!! What kind of a custom is that – was the first thought that came to my mind. But then, when I started thinking of Indian marriages I could recall some customs that may look and sound funny as well as  strange to other people.

In India owing to the different religions that we follow, the customs and traditions in marriages are bound to differ. Every community has its own set and I think these are being followed since ages. Some of them may not be relevant in today’s context  but people just follow them.

My own Kannada Brahmin community has a very funny  custom called Kashi Yatre which means the journey to Kashi (Varanasi). In olden days for South Indians going to Varanasi was a real big deal owing to the distance and  poor transport system. Those who achieved that feat would arrange a feast for the whole village and called it Kashi Samaradhane .  The Ganga water that they brought from there  in small sealed copper containers would be mixed with the water at home and sprinkled on one and all. So this was what actual Kashi Yatre used to be. But during a wedding  in the midst of the ceremony the groom gets up and says to the Father -in-law  “I can’t marry your daughter. I’m going away on Kashi yatre“. And he literally starts walking out of the hall in his marriage costume 🙂  The bride’s father starts pleading him not to desert his daughter and to please continue with wedding rituals. Everybody goes out of the hall following the groom and there they catch hold of him ( he’s anyway supposed to go till there only ) and he’s coaxed and cajoled (the father of the bride washes the feet of the groom while the brother holds an umbrella over the grooms head. I really feel that the custom of an elderly person washing the feet of an younger one, who ever it be, is very derogatory and should be done away with) and after all this drama, the groom is brought back to the mandap and then, everything continues as usual.

who used to be small children. But now, when the marriage is between two grown up and mature peoplethis custom may have no relevance any more and I wonder why people still follow it.  But people seem to enjoy it because lot of ched chad ( taunting and leg pulling) goes on during this time.

In the Gujarati community when the groom’s party (barat) arrives the bride’s mother while welcoming them tries to twist the the groom’s nose and the groom tries his best to escape. In the end he has to surrender 🙂  Basically some of these customs and traditions aim at breaking the ice between the two sides, giving a chance to the people who have gathered to laugh and enjoy. In this way they reduce a lot of tension and fill the atmosphere with laughter and happiness.

The Maharashtrians have a slight variation in the sense the brother of the bride twists the  groom’s ear to warn him to take care of his sister. May be they want to tell them this’s only a sample and if you don’t take care of our sister  bigger punishment awaits you! I really like it. 🙂

In Rajasthan a ritual called Toran Bandhan is followed.  In the olden days the bride was actually supposed to attack the bride groom with a sword. If the bride performs better in it, the groom would be branded useless and could be rejected!!  Nowadays the bride pokes the sword in the direction of the groom and they don’t get onto literal  fighting. Anyway after marriage all kinds of fights take place. So why hurry to start it even before tying the knot? 🙂

In Bengalis the bride is carried by her brothers when she comes to the mandap.  This made sense during the child marriage days as it was easy to carry a child. But now, when a fully grown female has to be lifted and carried, its embarrassing for the bride and the sweat trickling down the faces of people involved in this act can be emptied into a bucket as they show in Bhag Milkha Bhag. 🙂 🙂

Another strange thing that the Bengalis follow is something called Kalaratri  which is the night of the wedding and for every other community of India, as far as I know, it  is a Shubharatri. an  auspicious and much awaited night for the bride and groom. But for the Bengali  bride and groom it’s literally Kalaratri  because they are made to stay away from each other on this night.  No Bengali friend has been able to give me the exact reason behind this strange custom.

In Tamil Iyengar and Iyer weddings the bride is made to sit in the lap of the father while the groom ties the Thali (mangalasutra). This again, must be an age old, child marriage time practice.

The strangest of all marriage customs I think is concerning a  manglik girl. ( manglik is one who, at the time of birth, has both Mars and Saturn present in the 7th house according to Indian  astrology) A manglik girl is supposed to marry a tree first and then only the actual groom. This’s because manglik girls are supposed to have a curse due to which the husband has all the chances of dying a premature death!! After the marriage the tree is destroyed (suggesting first husband’s death) and thus the curse is supposed to have been broken. In today’s context where human beings have achieved unimaginable things, adhering to such superstitions  is not okay for anyone. Other customs seem funny but not this one. Its humiliating for any girl to be getting married to a tree!!

There are, for sure many many more funny ones from so many other Indian communities that I’m not aware of. By chance if anybody happens to go through this blog and also happens to know of some other  weird, funny customs and practices  do let me know.  It would be so much fun knowing more about them.



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