SINDHI WEDDING RITUALS
Kachhi Misri – The Kachhi Misri ceremony marks the first formal meeting between the two families after the match has been finalized. The bride’s and the groom’s family meet and an informal engagement ceremony is conducted between the bride and the groom. The families bear gifts for each other in the form of clothes, sweets, fruits etc. The couple exchanges coconut and lumps of misri (sugar crystals). The sister of the groom places a red scarf or dupatta over the bride’s head, feeds her sweets, and places five different types of fruits on her lap. The couple is allowed to court after this ceremony.
Pakki Misri – This refers to the formal engagement ceremony between the two families and generally takes place a week before the actual wedding day. The groom’s family arrives carrying gifts for the bride in beautifully decorated hampers. These gifts include expensive clothes like saree or Lehenga, jewelry, cosmetics, sweets, and fruits. These hampers are placed on the bride’s lap by the groom’s sister and sister-in-law. The groom’s mother presents the bride’s mother with an earthen pot filled with Misri which she has to open in front of them. Seven married women join the bride’s mother and draw an image of Lord Ganesha on this pot, thus invoking his blessings for the occasion. A priest conducts the whole ceremony. He begins by performing prayers to the deity or Jhulelal. Next, the couple exchange rings in front of family and friends. The priest consults the bride and the groom’s horoscopes and announces the exact time of the wedding. The families feed each other sweets.
Berana Satsang – A Satsang is a congregational prayer and during the Berana Satsang, the whole family gathers and sings a prayer to the Almighty Jhulelal and asks him to bless the couple and the whole event so that no obstacles cross their paths.
Dev Bithana – This ritual takes place at both the bride’s and the groom’s places. A stone grinder is installed at the home as the deity or Gundro by the priest. Prayers and Puja are offered to Him. This ceremony generally takes place five days before the wedding. After this ceremony, the bride and the groom are not supposed to leave their respective homes till the wedding day. Each of bride and the groom’s brother-in-law is appointed as guards or Anaars who must cater to their every whim and fancy till the wedding.
Lada – Lada is the Sindhi equivalent of a Punjabi Sangeet ceremony. The groom’s family traditionally should host this event where women from the neighborhood and from the family gather to perform singing of traditional folk wedding songs known as Lada as well. Dholaks and Thalis are beaten as an accompaniment to the vocal songs and women hardly miss the chance to dance along with the music.
Tih – The priest from the bride’s side visits the groom’s place carrying with him a bag of rice, sugar, spices like cloves and cardamom, a coconut, sweets (21 in numbers), dates (9 in number), and a ball of silk yarn in green color. Along with these samagris he carries with him a piece of paper on which the wedding Lagna or the specific auspicious time is written. Over at the groom’s house, he conducts a Ganesh Puja with the samagris he has brought with him and places the piece of paper on the groom’s lap.
Wanwas – This ritual is conducted separately at the bride’s and the groom’s sides. Priest visits the house one day before the wedding to perform a puja to the stone grinder deity instilled in preceding days. Seven married women from each family join in for the next stage of the ritual where oil is poured over the bride/groom’s heads before they are washed off in a cleansing bath.
Mehendi – A day before the wedding, the bride’s family gathers around at her house and apply the henna paste in beautifully artistic elaborate designs on her hands and feet. The initials of the groom are incorporated into the Mehendi designs. Other women of the family also get henna applied to their hands. This is a happy and fun-filled ceremony where the women sing and dance to traditional wedding songs. The event is also celebrated by the groom’s side, but on a smaller scale.
Jenya – A special ceremony is performed at the groom’s place celebrating his transition from a boy to a man. A sacred prayer is offered along with a traditional yajna ritual, and a sanctified thread is offered to the groom to wear around his body by the priest. The priest whispers a special mantra in the groom’s ears which he has to practice every day.
Saagri – This ritual involves the formal introduction of the bride to the groom’s family. Relatives and friends of the groom arrive at the bride’s home with gifts. One by one they are introduced to the bride, to whom they offer their best wishes and give gifts. She is also showered by flower petals by the groom’s relative. The groom’s sister dresses the bride with beautiful jewelry made with flowers.
Ghari Puja – The Ghari Puja is observed at the bride’s and the groom’s house separately. The priest performs the puja. The priest hands over a handful of wheat grain to the bride/groom. Some married women grind this wheat to flour. The purpose of the ritual is to signify the prosperity of the household.
Navgrahi Puja – This puja is performed on the wedding day morning. The priest offers puja to various Gods and Goddesses like Ganesha, Lakshmi, Shiva, Narayan, and all of the nine planets. This is done to appease the stars and mystical deities so that they remove all obstacles from the couple’s paths and the wedding progresses smoothly without any glitches.
Kheeram Sat – The priest offers the deity with raw milk, sugar, cardamoms, cloves, nutmeg, and rice. The offerings are kept in front of the deity and later are used to prepare Prasad.
Measuring the Groom – This is a custom unique to Sindhis and is performed by the bride or groom’s brother’s wives referred to as Peear Vaari. One Peear Vari from the Boy’s side and two from the bride’s side (one each from her paternal and maternal side) take part in the ceremony. They bear with them a platter containing all essential items for puja plus a length of thread. Each measure the groom with the thread and a knot is applied to appropriate lengths. The ritual is performed twice, once on the day before the wedding and also on the day of the wedding to ensure that this is the groom is the same as before.
The groom traditionally wears a highly decorative kurta pajama for the wedding which has now evolved into wearing a Sherwani with a churidaar pajama. The Sherwanis are generally heavily embroidered with zari threas, stones, and beads. He wears a Pagdi on his head which is either tied by his father or a readymade one. He wears minimal jewelry, probably a bracelet or a gold chain around his neck. Along with his outfit, he carries a long scarf or shawl-like clothing.
The Sindhi bride prefers wearing Lehenga for her wedding. Although like other Indian cultures, red is considered the most auspicious wedding color, the modern Sindhi may choose a lehenga in any color she likes. The lehenga is generally very heavy with lots of decorative work. It may be embellished with embroidery, zari, beadwork, and may even be embedded with crystals. The Chunri or the headscarf is draped in a similar fashion with that of a saree but has to cover the bride’s head. Or she may wear a separate headscarf for that purpose. Her bridal outfit incorporates a lot of Jewelry in gold, diamond, or other precious stones.
Wedding Day Rituals
Haldi – A paste of turmeric is applied to both the bride and groom on the morning of the wedding day. Oil is also applied to their hair. This is generally done by the married women of the family. They are then given the ceremonial bath to cleanse for the upcoming wedding rituals.
Garo Dhago – The priest performs a puja on the morning of the wedding to offer prayers to the ancestors of both sides. A red thread is sanctified during this puja and is tied around the writs of both the bride and the groom.
Baraat – The groom sets off from his home being accompanied by his friends and relatives. The groom’s entourage is known as Baraat and they approach the wedding venue in a boisterous procession, singing and dancing to the wedding band music.
Swagat – The groom’s procession is met at the gate of the wedding venue by the bride’s family. The bride’s mother welcomes the groom with a traditional arti and tilak. The measurement of the groom is performed and she pulls his nose playfully. The groom is made to enter the wedding venue after he has broken an earthen lamp with his foot. The baraatis are offered sugar and cardamom and are sprinkled with rosewater. The bride is brought to see the baraat’s entry and the groom places his right foot over the bride’s signifying his dominance in the future.
Paon Dhulai – The bride and the groom are made to sit side by side. The bride’s parents idolize the groom as Lord Vishnu and wash his feet with milk and water.
Jaimala – After this ritual is over, the bride and the groom stand up and face each other. Next, they exchange garlands with each other three times.
Palli-Pallo – The ends of the bride’s headscarf is tied in a knot with that of the groom’s. The groom’s sister puts in two knots along with a few grains of rice.
Hathialo – The right hands of the bride and the groom are tied together with a red scarf. The couple is then made to pray to the God Almighty with their hands tied together.
Kanyadaan – The bride’s father officially gives his daughter to the groom and requesting him to take care of his daughter for the rest of their lives. He seals the giving over by pouring holy water over the couple’s joined hands.
Phera – The wedding ceremony is performed by the priest in front of a sacred fire which according to Vedic beliefs is the most important witness of a wedding. The priest recites Vedic Mantras and pours offering to the fire. He then asks the couple to stand up and make four rounds of the fire. The bride leads during the first three rounds while the groom leads the last one. While performing each round, the couple is reminded of the four basic duties of life viz. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The couple utters the sacred vows of marriage and promises to love, care and respect each other for the remainder of their mortal lives.
Saptapadi – Seven piles of rice are placed in front of the couple. The bride has to step on each of these piles of rice being aided by the groom. The rice piles represent future difficulties in the couple’s rice and the seven steps together signify the beginning of their journey surmounting each obstacle.
Blessings – After the Saptapadi, the wedding is considered to be complete and the bride and groom seek the blessings of the elders of the two families.
Vidaai – This is the ritual where the bride departs from her parental home amidst much emotional goodbye. The bride’s father gives her parting gifts and the couple heads off for the groom’s house.
Datar – The new bride is given a very warm welcome by her in-laws. Her feet are washed by the groom’s family members. She is then asked to sprinkle milk in all corners of the house.
Salt Shagun – The bride places some amount of salt in her husband’s hands. The husband in turn hands it back to her. The ritual is repeated three times.
Chhanar – This ritual is performed by the priest on the day after the wedding. The Stone grinder idol installed before the wedding is dismantled by the priest. He performs a puja after which the mother of the groom feeds the newly-wed couple seven mouthfuls of rice, milk, and sugar.
Sataurah – The priest announces an auspicious time of the day during which the bride will visit her paternal home accompanied by the groom. The couple is then fed a lavish lunch at the bride’s parent’s place who showers them with gifts.
Gadjani – During the Gadjani, the bride is informally introduced to the members of the groom’s family. A more formal reception is generally hosted by the groom’s side replete with delicious Sindhi vegetarian food.