Parsi Wedding Customs and Rituals
A Parsi or a Zoroastrian wedding is known as `Lagan’ (लगन) in their native Gujarati language. The traditions and customs that are observed in a Parsi wedding are much different from a Hindu traditional wedding. The rituals which are performed during a marriage are simple but offer full opportunity for entertaining the families involved. These rituals extend over a period of six days.
In the Zend Avesta (અવેસ્તાનાં), the Holy Book of Zoroastrians, both womanhood and manhood are gained at the age of fifteen when teenagers would be ripe for marriage; however, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936 fixed the age of marriage for Parsis at twenty one for the groom and eighteen for the bride.
Parsi marriages are arranged traditionally by the parents of the couple after taking the consent of their children. However, in the modern age, it s not at all uncommon for a reversal of system; the parents are consulted about decisions already taken by the bridal cou
Parsi Pre-Wedding Rituals
- Adravvun - (અડરાવવું) – This ritual is also called Nam Padvun (નામ પાડવું). There is presentation of silver coins by the ladies belonging to both the bride and the groom’s families. On just this betrothal, the bride is given the name of her husband, even if the marriage is held after many months.
- Rupia Peravanu (रूपिया जोड़ीवान) – The wedding rituals for the Parsis begin with this ceremony. This marks the unofficial alliance between both families.
- Madhavsaro – (माधवसरो) – During this ritual, the families of the groom and the bride plant a sapling in a pot, individually. This pot is placed at the entrance of their respective houses and is watered daily till the eighth day after the wedding. It is then planted in the ground in their backyard or somewhere else.
- Varadh Patra – (वरदः पत्र) – This ritual goes for a couple of days and religious ceremonies are held in honour of the dead in the families.
- Divo – (દીવો) – During this ritual, a couple of lamps are lit in the homes of the bride and the groom. Ladies visit each other's houses and place silver coins on these lamps. Formal gifts get exchanged on this occasion while the bridal couple exchange wedding rings.
- Adarni – (आदरनी) – Three days prior to the marriage, a day is set aside for exchanging gifts once again. The family of the groom visits the bride to gift her clothes and jewellery. On this day, the relatives and friends of both families are served a traditional meal of curd and sev along with bananas and boiled eggs
- Supranu Murat – (સુપ્રા હું मूरत) – This ritual is performed a day before the marriage. It is the equivalent custom to the haldi ceremony among the Hindu community. The bride and the groom are anointed with turmeric paste by at least five married women between both families.
- Nahav – (नहाव) – During this ritual, the couple has to take a purification bath before preparing and dressing up for the marriage ceremony.
Parsi Wedding Rituals
It is interesting to note that auspicious days are usually favoured for a wedding ceremony among the Parsi community, such as the Hormazd which is the first day of a Parsi month or it should be a new moon day. The wedding day is generally the fourth day of the festivities.
A Parsi wedding is always performed in front of assemblies of witnesses. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce act needs at least a couple of witnesses along with a priest to perform a marriage. The ceremonial dress is the Jama Pichhoir (જામ जमा पिछोर). The bride has to wear the white variety and the groom has to add the mark of a Kum Kum on his forehead.
Before the wedding ceremony, a procession will form that carries gifts to the house of the groom’s family and it is accompanied by a live band of musicians. The marriage occurs typically in the house of the bride.
The bride’s family is assembled in the house to await the arrival of the groom; he and his entourage are greeted by the mother of the bride. If it is not the bride’s house, then the wedding is fixed in an agiary which is a Fire Temple or a baug (બાગ).
- Achu Michu (अचुमिचु) – This ritual is performed by the mother of the bride; she will hold a tray that contains raw eggs, betel nuts, coconut, rice grains, dates and water. She has to circle all these items, barring water, seven times around the groom's head and has to throw them down on the floor. Water has to be thrown on either side of the groom's head. The mother of the groom epeats this ritual for the bride.
- Ara Antar – (आरा अंटार्) – The bride and the groom have to sit facing each other and a cloth is placed in between them for separation.The groom has to sit on the right side of the bride and face the easterly direction. Rice grains are placed in trays on either side of the couple and it is thrown on them when they recite their wedding vows and benedictions. Candles are also placed on either side of the bridal couple and candles are an important symbol in the Parsi faith. The priest circles the couple seven times with a string. On the seventh round, the couple has to throw rice at each other from over the piece of cloth that separates them. Oil lamps will be lit on each side of the bridal couple as the priest begins the prayer ceremony. This is followed again by a shower of rice grains along with rose petals.
- Chero Bandhvanu – (चेरो बंदवान) -The couple will exchange rings. Relatives of the bride will place the hand of the bride in the hands of the groom. The groom has to then put his hand in a glass of water and he has to sprinkle milk on his pair of shoes. After this is done, the priest removes the seven strands of string that binds the couple.
- Hathevaro – (हेथेवरो) – Two priests will officiate and the couple is asked about their consent to the wedding. Their hands will then be joined and this custom is known as Hathevaro or the fastening of hands. A senior priest will place the right hands of the couple into each other’s clasp while the prayer of `Yatha Ahu Vairyo’ (याता अहू वियरी) will be recited.
Parsi Post-Wedding Rituals
- Lagna Satkara Samarambha – (લગ્ન સત્કાર સમારંભ) – Parsi weddings in India have become famous for their grand wedding reception feasts. This is a great opportunity for visitors to experience the culture, food, music and dance customs of the Parsi community. The dinner served to the guests is always a lavish four-course feast that comprises of almost all Parsi delicacies. The Parsi marriage comes to an end with this Reception. The couple leaves for their home after this function and the mother of the groom will perform the Achu Michu (अचुमिचु) ceremony after the arrival of the bridal couple.