A Bihari wedding is an elaborate, colorful function marked by traditional rituals.
The groom receives lavish gifts The bride's brother has to perform the 'tilak' ceremony for his future brother-in-law. He carries with him a 'gaggara' (stainless steel or copper utensil used mainly for storing water in Indian homes) in which the auspicious coconut and mango leaves are placed. He also carries three 'parats' (stainless steel or brass platters). The first 'parat' contains 'dhan' (husk covered rice) coloured red or yellow, one and a half or five kilograms of 'supari' (betel nuts) dipped in turmeric, and 'haldi' sticks (turmeric) which have to be the same quantity as the 'supari'.The second 'parat' contains yellow rice and Rs. 51/- also coloured yellow.The third 'parat' contains dry fruits and sweetmeats.
Haldi Ka Din
Beautification rituals In most Bihari weddings the 'haldi' ceremony (beautifying the bride with turmeric paste and fragrant oils) lasts for four days. The first of these four days is known as 'haldi ka din'. The 'pujari' conducts the 'Satyanarayan Puja' simultaneously as the married men and women apply the 'haldi-uptan' paste on the bride. Kohl is applied in the bride's eyes.The groom begins the same ceremony in his house and the 'Satyanarayana Puja' is performed in his house as well.
Offering of ground rice is made to the ancestors. The bride's mother and other 'sumangalis' (married ladies) grind the rice before the 'puja'.
On the morning of the wedding day, the bride once again prepares herself for the 'haldi-uptan' paste application in exactly the same manner as was done earlier on 'haldi ka din'. At the groom's home the same ritual of applying the 'haldi' paste on him is performed, after which he is dressed for the 'jaimaal' ceremony. The ceremony involving the dressing up of the groom is called 'joda pehanana', which is the same as 'sehrabandhi' in other North Indian communities.The groom's sister's husband or 'behnoi' has to perform the honours of dressing the groom.
When the 'baraat' is at the entrance of the wedding venue, all the important members from the bride's family wait with garlands of flowers in their hands to welcome the 'baraatis'. Each person from the groom's family is welcomed with a garland by his counterpart in the bride's family (i.e. the bride's father garlands the groom's father, the bride's 'mama' (maternal uncle) garlands the groom's 'mama' and so on and so forth).The ladies also garland their counterparts from the groom's family. This ritual is called 'darwaza lagna'.While his 'baraat' is being welcomed the groom remains seated in the decorated car and awaits the arrival of the 'pujari' from the bride's family, to come and welcome him by applying the 'tilak' on his forehead and to help him out of the car. The bride's father performs a small 'puja' for the groom at this time to bless and welcome him. The 'puja' is performed with a 'kalash' (pot) filled with water and decorated with a coconut and mango leaves. The bride's father then leads the groom to a decorated chair reserved especially for him.
The bride performs an 'aarti' for the groom and then the couple exchanges garlands.
For the 'kanyadaan' ceremony the 'pujari' asks the bride's father to stretch out his right hand, on top of which the bride's mother places her right hand, next the groom places his right hand on top of his mother-in-law's and lastly the bride, holding a conch, places her right hand on top of the groom's.The 'pujaris' chant mantras throughout and in this manner the bride is 'given away' by her parents to the groom eliciting a promise from him to look after and cherish their daughter. The 'pujari' sprinkles holy water on all of them.After the 'kanyadaan' ceremony the bride is seated to the right of the groom.
After the 'kanyadaan' ceremony the groom retires to the 'janvaasa' while the bride goes in to change for the next ritual, the 'kanya nirakshan'. Literally translated it means viewing the bride.The groom's father accompanied by the groom's elder married brother or 'bhaisur' now arrives to adorn the bride with the jewellery sent by her mother-in-law. This ritual is called 'bhaisur nirakshan'. This is the only time during the entire wedding that the 'bhaisur' is allowed to touch the bride or even enter the 'mandap'. His head must be covered with a 'rumaal' (handkerchief) or a 'topi' (cap) at this time. He first blesses the bride by placing his hand on her head and then presents her with two saris (one is the wedding sari and the other is the 'gouna sari'), two 'chunris' (veils) and a set of 'lehenga-choli' (long ethnic skirt with a blouse). He then adorns the bride with all the jewellery sent for her by her in-laws.
Bidaai Ki Rasm
If the groom has stayed back in the bride's maternal home, he will leave with his bride either after two days or after performing the 'kangna kholna' ceremony which takes place on the fourth day after the wedding as explained earlier.The bride sits while her mother fills her lap with gifts. She receives the 'bidaai ki sari' and in her 'khoicha'/ 'jholi' or lap, her mother puts half a kilo of yellow rice, money, 'sindoor', 'haldi' and 'doob'.