Marathi Marriage Customs and Rituals
Maharashtrian Hindu marriages are perhaps the least lavish that one will come across in India. They are made up of simple ceremonies unlike weddings held in other states. Most of the marriage ceremonies in Maharashtra are performed in the mornings as against evenings in various other states.
Maharashtrian Hindu Pre-Wedding Rituals
- Muhurat (शुभ सुरुवात) - The Maharashtrian marriage customs begin with the finding of a suitable partner for either the bride or the groom. Usually, the horoscopes of the girl and the boy are matched by the Purohits or Pundits. After the matching of the horoscopes, a muhurat is taken out for the marriage. This is then followed by the preparations for the wedding.
- Sakhar Puda (साखर पॉड) – This is the initial ceremony that takes place in a Hindu Maharashtrian wedding. It is actually the engagement function. The bride is presented a sari and some sweets by the family of the groom.
- Kelvan (केळवण) – This ceremony is performed at both the bride’s and the groom’s house. It is a small puja performed for the Kul Devata. This ritual is followed by a meal for the attendees.
- Halad Chadavane (हल्द चढ़वाने) - This is the haldi ceremony where turmeric paste is anointed on the bodies of the groom and the bride.
- Simant Puja (सीमान्त पूजा) – The groom is invited to the house of the bride and the bride’s parents wash the feet of the groom and present him with gifts.
Maharashtrian Hindu Wedding Rituals
- Mangalashtaka (मंगल अष्टका) – The bride and the groom are seated at the sacred mandap after it is purified and an Antarpath or a silk shawl separates them so that they cannot see each other. The Mangalashtakas are then recited and the shawl gets removed so that the couple can see each other. They are showered with rice grains.
- Kanya Daan or Jhal Phirawne (झाल फिरवणे) – A Sankalp (संकल्प) ceremony takes place before this when the couple asks their individual parents for permission to wed. The parents of the bride then perform the Kanya Daan where they offer their daughter’s hand in marriage to the groom. The groom then ties the Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride and applies vermilion or red sindoor in the parting of the bride’s hair.
- Saptapadi (सप्तपदी) – During this ritual, the couple takes seven rounds around the sacred mandap pyre and they also take seven vows. The ceremony comes to a conclusion with Karmasampati ritual where the fathers of the bride and the groom invoke the blessings of God to bless the newlywed couple.
Maharashtrian Hindu Post-Wedding Rituals
- Griha Pravesh (मुख्यपृष्ठ प्रवेश) – This is the first ceremony after the marriage. The bride arrives at her new home and the mother of the groom will welcome her and washes the feet of the couple with water and milk. A traditional Aarti is performed for them before they enter the house. The bride is asked to knock down a brass vessel filled with rice grains with her right foot before entering. She also has to dip her foot in water mixed with red vermilion.
- San Mukh Baghne (सन्मुख भागने) – This is a typical Maharashtrian touch to the ritual. The mother of the groom looks directly into the face of her daughter-in-law and then looks into a mirror and watches her own face. The hair of the bride is then combed by her mother-in-law. The concept behind this ritual is the acceptance of the bride in her new home.
- Changing of the Bride’s Name (वधू नाव बदलून) – In Maharashtrian communities, it has been a tradition to allot a different name for the bride after her marriage. This is done after the Griha Pravesh by the groom who traces a new name for his wife from among a plate filled with rice grains.
Muslim Matrimonial Customs in Maharashtra
Among Maharashtrian Muslims, there is no specific or isolated ceremony for marriage that is different from any other part of the country. Hence, this blog will not cover its pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals as they are the same as conducted in other regions of India. As per the Muslim Marriage Act in Maharashtra, ceremonies for marriage are not required nor is there any ritual that is deemed essential for a valid marriage contract.
The couple has to be legally competent top contract a marriage with each other in the presence of one male and two female witnesses. Among the Shia Maharashtrian community, there is no obligation for even the witnesses. As a custom, the Qazi or a Maulvi (priest) will perform the marriage ceremony. He will read four chapters from the Holy Quran and the groom has to repeat after him.
The couple will then express their mutual consent through Ijab-e-Qubul and the Qazi will raise his hands and recite a benediction after the bride accepts the proposal made by the groom. A Mehr amount or a dower sum has to be set aside to be paid to the bride by the groom should he divorce her any time in the future or should the bride become a widow.
A Maharashtrian Muslim wedding is not without the lavish celebrations and feasts and they are sometimes not less costly or elaborate than the Hindu weddings. The Maharashtrian Muslim weddings are well known for the generosity shown in terms of banquets to the guests that are invited.
The venue of the wedding is not fixed, in particular. The marriage can be conducted in the bride’s house or the groom’s house or a masjid or a function hall.
Christian Matrimonial Customs and Laws in Maharashtra
The Christian wedding rituals in Maharashtra are like anywhere else in India among the other states. As Christian marriage is recognised by the Indian Government as per the Christian Marriage Act, there is no compulsion of a civil marriage contract. The priest who officiates at a church adopted by the families of the bride and the groom will have to record all details in the Marriage Register. This Register is signed by the couple and their parents and a copy of the record is sent to the Registrar of Marriages.
The marital age that is allowed by the Protestant Christian Churches in Maharashtra for the groom and the bride respectively is 18 and 16 years. The age as per the Catholic Churches in Maharashtra is 16 and 14 years respectively. The consent of the parents or elders is mandatory.
Concerning consanguinity, marriage between first and second cousins is generally discouraged in Maharashtrian Christian communities but many families are allowed with a special dispensation from their church bodies.
The Christian wedding function is considered an irrevocable contract between the bridal couple to live together on terms of a family with deepest ties of love and bond ship. It has to be mentioned that Marathi Christian culture resembles the Hindu culture in many ways, particularly in areas such as cuisine and dress. Many Marathi Christian families have been found to maintain the Hindu customs of using Mangalsutras and anointing of the bride and the groom with sandalwood and turmeric paste before the wedding.