For this year’s Wedding issue, our Eden Prairie friends Abhi and Vanessa have been kind enough to share their Wedding celebration. Giving us an insiders view of their family Gujarati Wedding – a three-day event in all its pomp-and-circumstance.
The guest list reaches far and wide. Family and friends come from all over the world. The wedding celebration has a history of celebrating the families good fortunes to have this match. For as long as these wedding parties have been going on it has also been a place for other young people to meet and families to mingle.
As with all auspicious Hindu occasions, the wedding day starts with a prayer to Lord Ganesh. He is believed to be the remover of all obstacles, and the Ganesh Puja is carried out to ensure successful completion of the day’s itinerary. This takes place at the wedding venue under a mandap (four-post canopy) and is carried out by the bride’s parents, under instruction from their priest.
This ceremony takes place at the bride’s and groom’s places separately the day before the wedding. The bride/groom sits on a low stool or bajat with their palms upturned, and a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, rosewater, herbs and mogra attar or perfume is applied to their face, hands, and feet.
Mehndi – Henna
A Mehndi party is the pre-wedding celebration when the bride has the red-orange mehndi “stain” applied to her palms, back of hands, and feet. Tradition says the deeper the color of the bride’s mehndi, the happier the bride and groom’s marriage will be. Designs symbolize various blessings, luck, joy, and love.
Sangeet is where the party begins. The word Sangeet translates to ‘sung together’ from Sanskrit. ‘Gaun’, another word used to describe the event, means ‘songs’ or ‘to sing’ in Hindi. The Sangeet is solely conducted to relish in the happiness and joy surrounding the couple.
The coconut is one of the most common offerings you find at a Hindu temple (it is also referred to as the fruit of God) and is used to ‘break new ground’ as it is smashed into two halves. The ‘Kalasha’ is a sacrificial object placed in front of the Havan, the fire pit located at the center of the Mandap. It is composed of a metal pot with a coconut placed atop. Adorned with turmeric and vermillion powders and a garland of mango leaves at its base, the coconut is blessed prior to the ceremony and is one of the offerings that the couple submits to the Gods.
Both men and women participate in the procession of baraat. Close male relatives of both the bride and groom wear turbans, which indicates honor. When the baraat arrives at the wedding venue, a ceremony known as the milni (literally, meeting or merger) is carried out, in which equivalent relatives from the groom and bride’s sides greet each other. This usually begins with the two fathers, followed by the two mothers, then the siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins; even distant relatives are included in the milni, which symbolizes the unification of the two clans.
The couple then take seven steps together, the bride with her right big toe touches each stone while the priest is speaking the following seven vows:
Let us take the first step to sharing the responsibility of providing for our household
Let us take the second step to strengthen our mind, body, and soul to accomplish life’s needs
Let us take the third step to accomplish wealth and prosperity through righteous means
Let us take the fourth step to acquire happiness through mutual love, respect, and trust
Let us take the fifth step to raise strong, virtuous and courageous children
Let us take the sixth step towards spiritual values and longevity
Let us take the seventh step to stay best friends in this lifelong wedlock
The reception to celebrate the newly married couple is the finale. Food, drink, music, dancing, and more dancing all to entertain the couple and their guests.