The Rajputs do everything including their weddings in a unique style. Their swords, royal jewellery, Rajputana poshaak, and traditional customs make everything about their style of weddings regally distinctive and grand. Here is a glimpse into the happening weddings of the Rajputs.
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Rajputana wedding is all about colours, celebrations, lots of dance and music, and also oozing resplendence owing to the royal touch. There is no wedding as regal as a Rajput wedding. The bride dresses up like a queen and the entire ceremony is carried out with utmost grandeur. The amount of colours, lights, and drama in the Rajput wedding matches to none. The groom is presented with grand gifts and reception. From the colourful Ganpati sthapana to the traditional dhukav ceremony — the royal Rajput wedding is all about celebrating each aspect of the wedding to its fullest.
Like the roka ceremony, the tilak ceremony also marks the seal of approval on the wedding. This ceremony marks the beginning of the auspicious celebrations. For the tilak ceremony, the bride’s family (usually male members) visit the groom’s house to seal the upcoming wedding with the boy. The bride’s elder brother or his maternal uncle applies the felicitous tilak on the groom’s forehead. Since it is a Rajputana custom, it also involves offering a sword, gold jewellery, food items and other gifts to the groom as presents.
In a Rajput wedding, every ritual is carried out according to the destined tithis (dates in astrology). So, once the wedding dates are fixed according to the mahurat, that is, the auspicious dates decided for ceremonies according to astrological calculations, the families start preparing for Ganpati sthapana. In this ceremony, Ganesha idol is installed, and the griha shaanti ceremony which is a havan to propitiate the Gods, is performed. This is a must do for the Rajputs, as any new beginning without the blessings of Lord Ganesha is considered to be futile. Both the families (that is, the bride’s and the groom’s) perform this sacred ritual at their individual homes to seek the pious blessings.
Mel is another beautiful Rajputana ceremony. After the wedding proceedings are fixed, both the families throw a community feast for their respective guests. This is a ceremony in which the wedding is officially announced among the community friends and a grand feast is thrown to celebrate the amalgamation of the two souls. The feast, usually dinner, is enjoyed with musical and dance processions. The entire festive mood for the grand wedding among the Rajputs is set with the mel ceremony.
Rajputs also celebrate baan with great pomp and show, which is a kind of a haldi ceremony, in which the closer members of the family come together to apply a paste of haldi (turmeric) and sandalwood on both the bride and groom’s face, arms, and legs individually at their respective homes. The celebrations are marked by a group of women singing ceremonial songs and performing ritualistic dances. The ceremony is also popularly known as tel baan in Rajasthan especially as various oils and materials like turmeric are mixed together to form a scrubbing as well as hydrating paste. Some Rajput families also like to mix sandalwood, henna, milk, curd/yoghurt and oil with turmeric to make the paste even more nourishing and hydrating.
Chaak is also known as the chaak poojan ceremony among the Rajputs. It is a variant of the jaago ceremony among the Punjabis. Chaak literally means the rolling wheel on which the potter prepares the clay pots. While the kalash or the earthen pot represents the entire universe, the chaak is synonymous to Lord Brahma’s chakra. Hence, the chaak symbolises creation, prosperity, and toil. Thus, in order to celebrate the new beginnings in the couple’s life with the wedding, either five, seven or eleven women from the boy’s family carry the kalash on their heads while singing ceremonial songs to the potter’s place. There they tie the ceremonial thread, apply tilak, and rice on the chaak to pray for the happy union of the soon to wed couple.
Bhaat, also known as mahira dastoor among some communities, is a ceremony where the mamo-sa (the maternal uncle) arrives at the bride’s house with gifts, jewellery and treats. In a Rajput wedding ceremony, the maternal uncle plays a significant role in quite a lot of ceremonies. Bhaat is one such ceremony where he bears the major costs of the ritual for her niece. This is a unique way where maternal uncles, in Rajputs, show their affection for his sister and niece.
Bindora is like a traditional Indian bachelor or bachelorette party among the royal bloods. The bride and groom individually are thrown a luncheon or a dinner party by their close friends and relatives to have their share of grand fun before getting hitched. Favourite meals of the soon-to-be weds are prepared in order to please them to the core.
Another ceremony that is performed just before the processions of the baraat is the janev ceremony. In Rajputs, the ceremony signifies the transformation of the groom into a grihastha. The groom is made to wear a saffron robe and perform a yagna with the priest on the eve of him taking over the duties of a householder. At the end of the yagna, the groom has to act as if he wants to become an ascetic and run away but is stopped by his maternal uncle, who convinces him to get married.
Nikasi is the sehra bandi ceremony for the groom. The groom is gotten ready for the wedding during this ceremony; he is adorned with his sherwani, wedding jewellery, put on with kajal in his eyes. The most important accessories for this ceremony are the kalgi and sehra that mark the ritualistic importance of the occasion. The sehra is tied around the groom’s head and is either made of flowers or zari danglers or sometimes even with strings of pearls. This covers the groom’s face. The sehra is traditionally tied by the groom’s brother-in-law, his sister’s husband. His sister-in-law (brother’s wife) then applies kajal from her eyes on the side of the groom’s face to ward off evil energy. She also ties a golden thread on the reins of the mare that the groom is supposed to mount. This is beginning of the proceedings of the baraat.
While toran is put on the top of the main entrance, it also signifies the importance of the entrance in welcoming people. The locals in Rajasthan believe in making the guests feel welcomed with the colourful torans. The entrance being the way inside people’s house and thus their lives; reflect the kind of people that live in the house. Therefore, the people put colourful torans that are made from the same fabrics and embellishments as their clothes, indicating the kind of people that live inside the house. When the Rajput groom enters the bride’s home along with the baraat, he is asked to touch the toran with his sword. This signifies the acceptance of welcome. In certain Rajasthani cultures, like the Rajputs, it is important to put up a toran during poojas and weddings. It is done to provide a proper welcome to the Gods and the guests during the auspicious celebrations. Therefore, the groom touching the toran, before entering the bride’s house, is the indication to the reception of the bride’s family’s welcome with God’s grace.
After the toran ceremony is concluded, the wedding rituals proceed as normal. These include gathjoda ceremony, paanigrahan ceremony, sindoor, pheras and chhol bharai. All these ceremonies are carried out with the greatest rigour and ceremonial glee. Post the wedding, the bride returns to her parent’s home for the paghphera ceremony. Hence, a Rajput wedding is all about their rich culture, colours, and blessings of the almighty in blessing the new couple in their new journey.