India has always been admired for its diversified population, customs and traditions. Hence with people following different rituals, there ought to be some strange and interesting ways of marriage as well. Marriage is a ceremony to welcome new members to the family and take a step further in life. It is always considered to be one of the most vital decisions of our life. There are thousands of tribes dwelling in India and they all have peculiar wedding rituals and costumes. There are many tribes in the country about whom very few people know. The folk songs that are sung during festivals are loved by most people as they have a different feeling in it. They respect and worship the nature in their own ways. The world of these Indian Tribes is much different from ours. Indian Tribal Weddings have nowadays modernized but the rituals and beliefs still persist. Today, the wedding rituals are not totally followed as they were done two decades back, but the basic tradition is the same and they still follow it with grace. The wedding costumes and jewelries of these tribes have always been a fancy and worth appreciating. The peculiarity gives them a stand-out look as well.

The Gaddi Tribe:

This is a very interesting and colorful tribe which is found in the Kangra valley situated in Himachal Pradesh. The marriage rituals are quite peculiar and eye-catching. The bride-groom is made to wear a yellow dhoti and a handful of ash is smeared on his forehead. There is a bow and arrow which he carries on his hands to make him resemble to Lord Shiva. Amongst the Gaddis, marriage is considered to be mandatory. No gaddi can skip this ceremony. Unfortunately, if anybody does not get married he or she is believed to have a cursed life and eventually a devil’s death. The wedding ceremony continues for three days but the second day is said to be the most important day as the actual ceremony is held on this day. All the rituals are carried out by the women on this day. To start this ceremony, first of all the groom begs his mother to provide him the permission to lead his own life. He does this by going to the mother with a pleading bowl on his hand and humbly asking her to permit him to proceed further with the wedding rituals. The mother agrees to her son by sending him back with delicious food following the ancestral script.

The Wedding Dress:

As we all know Himachal Pradesh is known for its beautiful mountains and glaciers. The wedding ceremonies are quite colorful. The bright colors of the costumes comply very well with the greenery around. The women here wear heavy and colorful jewelry. The big nose ring is a distinctive feature of this tribe. Most commonly used ornaments are silver chanderhars which have a decent weight, and then there are Jo-malas and camphor garlands known as Kapur-ki-mala. The hair is tied-up and beautifully decorated with Chiris and other small ornaments which are worn behind ears. A silver Chaunk is considered to be a must-wear ornament on the head. Bangles are also compulsory for the women to ensure their self-respect. It is quite well significant that Gaddi people use silver jewelries more than gold ones. These tribal women always have the tendency to flaunt their ornaments and costumes in every occasion.

The Wedding Feast:

Just like any other tribal wedding, Gaddi marriage is also accomplished with lots of folk songs, dance and alcohol. People enjoy to their fullest and offer their prayers to the natural gods. The first day is started with the tribal women singing and praying to the Gods as well as Sun, Moon and the Earth. The Gaddi marriage is very well known to enact and follow the spiritual marriage of Lord Shiva and Parwati. The most common menu consists of items like babroo, lahoda (blood cutlet), vegetables, fried mutton, tea and alcohol or sur. The ceremony starts with the Brahmin or purohit worshipping Lord Brahmas, Vishnu, Kuldev (the family God) and Kumbha. This is known as Samhut. After this a ceremonial bath takes place in the patio where the groom is made to thrust an earthen plate containing burning charcoal and mustard wearing a blanket. This is believed to be done so as to get rid of the evil eye. After this the priest makes the groom to take few choices which seem to be unreal. The purohit asks him to choose between a worldly life (Jatera) and ascetic life (Matera). Most grooms opt for the Jatera. To make this choice, the groom needs to reject the clothes of a jogi or sanyasi and take a bath in Badri Narayan. Trilokinath and Manimahesh by washing his hands, feet and face with water which is kept at the door way. The priest and barber dress the groom to look appropriate. The sehra is presented by the maternal uncle and the turban is tied by the other close relatives. As per the rituals, the groom is carried on a palki which nowadays is replaced by a car. The bride groom is taken to the wedding gate or the toran where his parents and the priest are already present to receive him. Then the actual ceremony takes place. A structure is created known as pandal or mandap. Here, a bedi is constructed for the ceremonies to take place. There are few shapes and figures made of rice flour, vermillion powder and turmeric on the bedi.

The Change:  

With the passage of time, rituals have also changed. Gaddi weddings have also witnessed few changes and variations. The most genuine and commonly used is the Dan-pun or Dharma-pun. According to this ritual, the parents decide and arrange for the marriage without any conditions to be fulfilled by the other family. Also there is another commonly followed ritual of bata-sata where the boy gets a wife in exchange for a girl married to his wife’s brother. One unusual practice nowadays been stopped- Kamash or Ghar-Jawatri. Here the boy belonging to a poor family served under the in-laws for a certain time period without any pay.

Here was an overview of the wedding proceedings of a tribe from Himachal Pradesh. There are numerous other tribes who have equally interesting rituals for marriages. But marriages are the occasion that brings in endless joy and happiness to a family and the whole country celebrates this occasion whole-heatedly.

Raja Kumar

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