Weddings are ceremonies in which two people are united in marriage. It is the most important moment in one’s lifetime wherein two individuals, agree to take on responsibilities of each other as life partners.
It is said that Kashmiris practice the largest number of rituals and customs, as compared to the other parts of India and have the most elaborate celebration of a wedding.
The first step involves checking the couples’ compatibility then seeking a match, by comparing the Teknis (Horoscopes). Then the background, status and moral character of the either family and their relatives are evaluated. Once the alliance is finalized, engagement and wedding dates proposed by the bride’s parents, are approved by the pandit after obtaining the grooms’ parents’ consent.
Pre wedding rituals include:
Kasamdary (Engagement) takes place in a temple. The girl’s family serves traditional vegetarian Kashmiri fare and sends fruits and Nabad (sugar lumps) to the boy’s house!
Livun – is the traditional cleansing of the floors of the house, with mud and water. The bua (paternal aunt) of the couple prepares Var (rice pudding) which is distributed to the neighbors and relatives. A Waza (family cook) assembles a mud-and-brick oven (Wuri) where traditional, vegetarian meals are cooked for the wedding ceremonies.
Maenziraat takes place a week prior to the wedding and it begins with Krool Khanun, a ceremony involving decorating the doors of the new house of the prospective bride and groom. In the evening, the bride-to-be has her feet washed after which her eldest aunt decorates her hands and feet with maenz (henna).
Divagone – is the ritual where God Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshipped and this happens in the home, only after everyone has observed a fast. A sacred fire (Havan) is lit and new ornaments to be gifted to the bride are placed beside it.
Kanishran – is a ritual to bathe the couple in holy water, rice, milk, curd and flowers – following which they change into a new set of traditional attire.
Duribat – is the invitation of the relatives for lunch where they are served milk, Kahwa, a traditional vegetarian lunch, consisting of Dumaalu, Nadrooyakhni, Chock wangun, Vyath chaman, Nich chaman, Nadroohakh, Mujchatni in traditional kiln-baked pots called Tabche.
Wanvun / Music sessions are organized or traditional singing groups (Bachkots) are invited, to perform – to entertain guests, during which everyone is served a salted pink tea (called noon or Sheer Chai).
The Wedding rituals are as follows:
The groom’s attire is a tweed Pheran with a sword in the waistband and Jootis; headgear is a Gordastar (Turban) to which a peacock feather is tied with a golden thread. The bride’s pheran is made of raffle and hook embroidery; the head attire Tarang – consists of a Zoojh (white scarf) which is wrapped over the head and is left hanging on the back, tied with silk threads. A slolite paper is placed from behind, leaving it loose. It is curled separately and two all-pins with black and golden heads are fitted into the headgear. A wide belt called Haligandun, is tied to the bride’s waist.
The groom’s uncle helps him tie the Gordastar, during which a plate of rice containing money (Zung) is touched to his right shoulder. Before the procession leaves for the bride’s house, the groom stands on a Vyoog (Rangoli), he is fed Nabad and a conch shell is sounded to announce his departure. Two rice pots containing money are donated to the poor.
The marriage procession is greeted by the bride’s relatives. The fathers of the bride and groom exchange Jaiphal (nutmeg), symbolizing the solemnization promise of a life-long friendship. The bride’s uncle carries her out to the Vyoog and her mother, performs puja with lamps made of wheat flour and feeds Nabad to the couple. The pandit performs Dwar pooja, before leading he couple into the Lagan mandap.
The wedding ceremony (Lagan) is when the pandit performs the wedding rituals in front of a sacred fire; the couple are allowed to see each other through a mirror, after which they hold hands, and the first to be able to pull out the engagement ring of the other will be the one to play a dominating role. A Mananmal (golden thread) is tied to their foreheads; their left feet are placed on a Kajwat (grinding stone). The bride’s first phera out of seven, around the fire is made by stepping on seven one rupee coins, putting the right foot forward – at the end of which she is received by the groom’s father.
In the ritual Posh Puza, the couple is seate, heads covered with a red cloth, everyone showering flowers while chanting Veda mantras. The newly-weds stand atop the Vyoog while the eldest female of the bride’s family feeds them Nabad thrice. During Vidaai, as the bride leaves her parent’s house, she throws a fistful of raw rice over her shoulder so that prosperity may remain. She also scatters rice at the doorstep of her new home, symbolizing prosperity that she brings to her new home.
Welcoming the newly-weds is a fun affair; they are refused entry until cash or jewelry is given. The Mananmal are exchanged. The couple is seated on the mud stove and is fed with food, the Waza serves them. The bride changes into a new sari and jewelry, including Dejaharu and Ataharu.
On Satraat, the bride visits her parents, accompanied by her husband and few children and they change into new clothes before returning. The groom is presented with a Dusa (six yard pashmina shawl).
In Phirlath the couple visits the bride’s parents again and they are gifted with more new clothes.
Roth Khabar is the gifting of a long freshly baked cake, decorated with nuts, from the bride’s parents to the to their son-in-law’s family. The bride is given salt as shagun.
Gar-Atchun marks the return of the bride to her parents’ home for one day. A lavish non-vegetarian meal is prepared, after which, the bride and groom return to the marital home. It signifies the beginning of a happy life for the couple and their families.