The Jains, their weddings and simple celebrations
There are various different cultures and customs in Gujarat. There are several occasions and festivals. Weddings are celebrated in different fashion and styles since each community have its set of rules and rituals. The Jain wedding however stands out. It is made of several different rituals that take place on the wedding day. Moreover, there are rituals taking place before and after the wedding too. These weddings are usually observed in the western part of the country, especially Gujarat.
The Jains are low in population in India, when compared to the Hindus or the Muslims. The Jains believe that weddings are auspicious and are kept sacred. They consider it much more than just a worldly affair and do not believe in spending too much money and introducing glamour in weddings. They like to keep it simple, fulfilling all the rituals that come with it. Jain weddings are traditional and ritualistic. There is no excessive extravaganza and are enjoyed by everyone in the two families! Several ceremonies are held to solemnize the marriage. The Jain weddings are beautiful to watch!
Pre-wedding Jain rituals
Even though Jain weddings are not celebrated in a grand way there are different rituals to be followed.
Vagdana: This is the beginning of the wedding rituals. Here, the families of the bride and the groom come together to decide upon the marriage of the prospective bride and groom. Gifts are exchanged and the bride is presented with ornaments.
Laghana Lekhan: This is the time when the date for the wedding is decided. The girl’s house holds a puja and they decide upon the time of the marriage.
Sagai and Lagna Patrika Vachan: Sagai is the Indian name for an engagement. This is popular in most Indian weddings. Exchange of rings takes place between the bride and groom. Close friends and family come together to bless the couple. Gifts are also exchanged. The groom, especially, is gifted with a gold chain, clothes, coconut, sweets and money. This goes according to traditions.
Matruka Sthapan: This is typical of a Jain wedding. This is a puja held in the homes of the bride and the groom respectively, mainly to seek the blessings of the heavenly bodies on the couple and also to pray for their fertility.
Mandapa-Vedi Pratishtha: This is a special ritual in which the wedding altar, or mandap, is constructed in the bride’s house. Since, the bride’s family holds the wedding ceremonies, the mandap is made by them. This mandap is then shifted to the wedding location, on the day of the wedding. This is one of the auspicious rituals performed.
As these rituals are completed, we move on to the rituals on the wedding day.
Wedding day Jain rituals
Ghudhchadi: The procession of the groom and his family to the wedding location is held before the wedding. This is known as the baraat! Before they leave their house, the mother of the groom applies tilak on his forehead after giving him a headgear. This is known as the Ghudhchadi. This marks the beginning of wedding rituals on the important day!
Vada Ghoda: According to traditional customs, the groom here sits on the horse and leads the baraat as they proceed towards the wedding location. This is one of the fun-filled occasions.
Torana Vidhi: This is performed to welcome the groom to the wedding hall. He is garlanded by the bride and then is escorted to the altar.
Varmala: Here, the bride and the groom sit next to each other and exchange garlands as the priest chants the prayers.
Kanyavaran: This ceremony symbolizes that the father of the bride is giving his daughter away to the groom and asks him to keep her safely. They hold hands and water is poured on their hands which the priest resides the verses.
Kanyavaran: This ceremony involves setting up the fire which is considered to be the holy witness to the occasion. The marriage is conducted around the holy fire or Agni.
Abisheka: Here, the couple’s heads are anointed with holy water as the mantras are chanted in the background!
Agni Pradakshina: This is a common site in most Indian weddings. Here, the brother of the groom gives them rice grains. As the bride and the groom take rounds around the fire, they pass on the rice to the priest each time they pass him. The priest offers the rice to the fire. This is considered sacred. Several prayers are chanted.
Granthi Bandhan: Here, the groom’s shawl is tied to the sari of the bride to solemnize the marriage.
Kar-mochan: Since the couple held hands during the wedding ceremonies, here they are released by the priest. This is the last ritual of the wedding.
Post-wedding Jain rituals
Ashirvada: After the wedding ceremonies are performed, the newlyweds seek the blessings of the elders in the family for a happy married life.
Sva Graha Aagamana: The new bride then leaves the wedding location and moves towards her husband’s home- her new home. She is welcomed there by the mother in law with an aarti. She is shown the house to get her acquainted to it.
Jina Grahe Dhan Arpana: After the ceremonies are performed, the Jains believe in giving alms in the jain temples as an act of thanksgiving for the successful completion of the marriage.
Reception: This is the last of all the wedding rituals. Here, the bride is introduced to all the members of her new family. A huge feast is prepared for the newlyweds and the guests. The new bride gets acquainted with the members of the family.
As we see, the Jain weddings are kept simple and elegant. There are no excessive celebrations. They concentrate on the wedding solely and aim to fulfill all the rituals properly. Also, for thanksgiving, they give alms to the temples. This truly reflects their culture and thoughts. The wedding rituals are a treat to the eye and carried out in beautiful fashion.