Marital customs in Uttarakhand
Marital customs in Uttarakhand is different and varies as per different castes and communities found in this region. There are various beliefs of different communities attached to marital customs here. Few communities of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas even till day do not accept inter caste marriages. They do not prefer to marry their daughters in lower castes instead find a mate in higher castes and affluent background so that their daughter stays happy. Certain prohibitions exist pertaining to the marriage of girl and boy sharing same caste or same “Gotra” as per which they are brother and sister to each other. Widow re-marriage was another issue that has been looked down upon here but with changing time, widows’ marriage is solemnized without any issues. Polygamy is thought not prevalent but Polyandry is practiced in some regions of Chakrata Tehsil of Dehradun district. Amid the tribal communities as in Boksa, Tharu and Bhotiyas, marriages are performed as per their rituals and customs.
Usually, marriage preparations are not an overnight affair. After the girl and boy agree to marry each other, horoscopes are matched by the Brahmin man called “Purohit”. But that’s not all, family background, qualification of the prospective bride and groom, and the dowry (in some parts of Uttarakhand) are some pre- requisites that ought to be discussed afore finalizing the marriage. When both the parties agree to each other’s marital demands, the date of marriage and other related ceremonies are finalized as per dates falling in the Hindu calendar.
Primarily, the wedding ceremony starts with small ritual called “Roka” in which girl is offered coconut, dry frits and blessings of family members. This is further followed by engagement ceremony where both prospective bride and groom exchange rings and “Necklace” is gifted to the girl by groom’s mother. Towards the closure of this ceremony, grand feast is organized for family members and relatives to celebrate the occasion.
Here, the marriage procession is led by a white flag that is called “Nishan” which represents the groom. This is followed by the crowd of local band that plays Shenai, Piper and couple of drummers playing Nagara. On the other side, bride comes in a White Palki and at the end of the procession there is a man that carries a red flag that represents the bride. When the procession reaches the bride’s house, a grand feast is organized for the groom and his family member and relatives. After this “Nath” ceremony is performed in which a nose ring is given to the bride at the auspicious time selected. Hereafter, the marriage ceremony is performed where bride and groom are taken to the bedi that has “Hayan” and the bride and the groom take seven rounds of the bedi and vow to be together forever in this life and more to come. The Purohit enchants mantra while the couple performs “Phere”. Once the marriage is completed, the “Viddai” takes place where the bride has to leave her father’s house forever as from now her husband’s house will be her home till her death. During Vidaai, the procession is led by the red flag and then the red doli of the bride follows with White palki of the groom behind it and now the White Flag is placed at the end. Once the procession reaches the Groom’s house, the mother-in- law performs puja and welcomes the bride at her new house. “Gauna” or second marriage system is not prevalent here and so the marriage seems solemnized. After these rituals are over, couple goes for honeymoon to commence their beautiful relation which may last for a week or so.
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