'Identity' and not 'Identity' Brahmin weddings from Kasmir to Tamil Nadu. The weddings of the Brahmins are seen having a myriad of differences, while radiating the same level of enthusiasm. If the Panch - Dravida Brahmins of the south grow a plant seed as a symbol of the growth of the family, the maithil Brahmins of Bihar mix and grind the seeds to represent the expansion of the family. Keeping the same belief intact, the Brahmins from each corner of india have different strokes which
make their weddings an interesting affair to attend.
Pre - wedding traditions
The Brahmin wedding is decided by matching the horoscopes (kundlis) of the soon - to be bride and the groom. Once, the kundlis are matched, it is given to the respective Brahmins for Gun - milan (matching of sixteen points). After baithak (meeting), the elders decide the mahurat (auspicious time) for the wedding. However, the kundlis in the North differ from the South indian Brahmin. the Panch Guada Brahmins of the north give significance to the signs while the Brahmins of the South give importance to the Nakshatra (stars).
The Sagaai or the engagement ceremony symbolises commitment However, the South Indian Brahmin do not lay stress on the presence of bride and the groom in their Sagaai, rather it focuses on commitment between the parents of the groom and the bride. 'Latto' i.e., 'engagement plate' Which consist of coconut, flowers, turmeric, betel leaves and betel nuts hold more importance, in their engagement ceremony. The Maithil Brahmin bride of bihar makes her wedding affair stand apart by receiving the blessing from the Dhobi's (washerman's) wife - a compulsory tradition in the Bihari Brahmin wedding. the maithil belief states that the dhobi's wife dies before her husband and so she never becomes a widow. With this faith the ritual is performed by touching a bit of yoghurt to the hair of the dhobin (washerman's wife) and then the bride is asked to eat the same. After the engagement ceremony Kashi yatra (pilgrimage to Kashi - a place near Varanasi) is observed in most of the South indian Brahmin weddings. In Kannada and tamil Nadu, the Kashi yatra explains the groom's "mock anger" - as his intention to renounce all the materialistic benefits and go on a yatra, while his father - in - law pacifies and offer him his daughter. Umbrella, Bhagwad Gita,hand fan and sandals are the props used by the bride's father to win his would - be - son - in - law back.
Upanayana is the ritual where Yajnopavitam, a thin sanctified cord composed of distinct cotton strands, is wrapped around the groom's body, falling underneath the left arm. Upanayana or Vratham is the main pre - wedding event for lyer Brahmins. For the bride it means the tying the kappu, the holy thread on her wrists, which protects her from evil. For the groom vratham begin with invocations involving the Gods Indra, Soma, Chandra and Agni as he prepares himself for a new chapter in his life as a grihasta (householder). In North India, a thread is tied to the groom during the janeu ceremony which is a pre - curser to the wedding ceremony. Upanayana is followed by the Haldi ceremony.
In Haldi ceremony turmeric powder is mixed with milk, almond oil and sandalwood and applied to the bride and the groom. In Kashmiri Pandit this ceremony has a twist becuase cold, white yoghurt is poured on the bride as an alternative to haldi. ritual is followed by a special custom called Shankha (shell) Paula (coral) in bengali Brahmins, where seven married women embellish the bride's hand with red and white bangles, the shell is supposed to calm the bride and the coral is believed to be beneficial for health. Mehndi is also applied on every bride's hands during the Mehndi ceremony. However, a Bengali Brahmin bride applies alta (red dye).
The Wedding ceremony
With exuberant festivities, a traditional Brahmin wedding is a feast to the eyes. Amidst the melodious sound of Shehnai and the beating of the drums, the 'baraat' and the groom arrive at the venue where the bride's family eagerly waits for them. The wedding ceremonies in South Indian Brahmin usually take place during the daytime. Although in Himachal pradesh, the unique tradition, Kanya Ghatri is practiced at some places. in which the bride has to take her baraat to the groom's place. Once the groom arrives or in some cases the bride, the aarti (small prayer) is done by the mother and other ladies of the bride's family. Along with aarti, the bihari Brahmin follows the compulsory celebration of singing of vidyapati songs by the ladies of the family. These songs reveal the marriage events of ram and sita; Shiv and Parvati. Vidyapati song are sung before the arrival of the groom but continue even during the marriage ceremony and in fact these poignant song are carried for the whole year in the house of the marriage. On the wedding day, a Kashmiri Groom's forehead is covered with a long piece of starched and ironed snow - white zoojh (white scarf) which is about three centimetres in width two to two - and - a - half meter long, in three to four layers. It is made of fine cotton or silk on two sides and consist of a silk or cotton net in the middle. The Groom's uncle performs the ceremony of wrapping th forehead.
After the ceremonious arrival of the groom, the garlands are exchanged between the groom and the bride, while the priests chant mantras. Jaimala is the symbol of unifying two souls into one. But in tamil nadu, "Oonjal", a unique jaimala ceremony is performed and could be best decribed as a tug of war. In this ceremony, the women sing songs to encourage the bride and groom to exchange the garlands while the uncles persuade the soon to be couple not to Exchange the garlands. Before the ceremony of jaimala, the bride makes a majestic entry in Bengali weddings. Covering her eyes with betel leaves, she is seated on a low wooden stool called, 'pidi', is lifted by her brothers and takes the seven complete circles, round the groom. Unveiling the Ghoonghat before jaimala is a common feature of any Brahmin wedding but Maithili Brahmin, infused with their strong faith add a special touch to the usual fashion. The unveiling is not just done by her brother, depicting the dual lives of women. The unveiling symbolizes the journey of the girl from a carefree daughter of her village to the figurative lady of her husband's house. After jaimala and sindoor daan, the pheras start but in the telgu Brahmin there is an extra ritual, Jeelakaraa - Belaamu in their weddings, the Priest recites Shlokas from the Vedas and after that the priest asks the couple to smear a paste made from cumin seeds and jiggery on each other's hands.
Fire is considered the most pious element in the Brahmin weddings and seven circles around that fire holds the seven promises that the nuptial couple make to each other amidst the Vedic mantras. The Brahmin wedding is deemed incomplete without the seven rounds around the sacred fire. Unlike other Brahmin weddings, in Gujarati weddings only four pheras are taken which are called the mangalpheras where the pheras represent four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Miksha (religious, moral, prosperity and salvation). Likewise in Malayalee Brahmin weddings, pheras are taken only thrice. But in Rabha tribe of Assam, as per Gandharva tradition, no pheras are taken, Marriage in complete with the exchange of garlands. In Maharashtra, an important ritual in the ceremony in when the white cloth is held between the bride and the groom and the priest recites the mangal ashtaka mantras. These mantras formally complete the wedding. Rice mixed with vermilion is showered by the attendees on tulsi and vishnu (referred to bride and the groom here) at the end of the recitation of the mantras with the word "Savadhan" (be careful). The white curtain is also removed. The attendees clap signifying approval to the wedding. Vishnu is offered sandalwood - paste, man's clothing and the sacred thread. The bride is offered saris, turmeric, Mangal - sutra, worn by married women. Sweet and food cooked for and actual wedding are cooked for tulsi vivah too. After kanyadaan, the groom puts mangalsutra on his bride's neck and then water is poured on it signifying the equality of man and his wife. Tamil and telgu Brahmin have two mangalsutras, from the groom's and bride’s family.
Post wedding ceremony vidaai
After pheras, the bride's family and friend bid her teary vidaai (farewell). The Kashmiri pundits make their vidaai even more special. their charming ritual, "roth khabar" is performed on a saturday or tuesday after the wedding. In Roth khabar, the bride's parents send a roth (bread decorated with nuts) to their son - in - law's family. But the bride accompanies She stay with her parents and returns only when someone from in laws comes to fetch her back.
The new bride is greeted by her mother - in - law with Arti and tilak. The bride, who is regarded as the Goddess laxmi, enters the groom's house after the groom's house after kicking rice - filled pot. In Kannada Brahmin marriages, the groom changes the name of his wife in the name change ceremony where he decides a name for his wife and inscribes it on a plate containing rice with a ring. In Bihar, a very strange ritual is performs at the groom's place. The bride suddenly finds herself grappling with a huge earthen pot set on her head by her mother - in - law. Without losing time, few more pots are added to the pile while she is expected to bow down and touch the elders feet. Brahmins share the same belief that's practised differently.
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