The tradition of Jai Mala at Indian Weddings is when the bride and groom put beautiful garlands on each other’s necks right before the wedding ceremony begins. This ancient tradition of Jai Mala or also known as Varmala has been followed and practiced since time immemorial. You’ll notice this quintessential and quite iconic wedding custom often highlighted in Indian movies as well as commonly seen as Indian wedding pictures on the internet.
Historically and quite interestingly though, Jai Mala or Varmala is exactly how princesses used to choose their husbands during the swayamvar (swayamvar is an ancient Indian practice of choosing a husband from among a list of suitors by a girl).
If you think this is just a normal custom then you would be pleasantly surprised that even the garlands and the act of exchanging it between the bride and the groom have very deep meanings.
Continue to read and find more about the spectacular Jai Malas.
This ceremony is followed after the arrival of the groom and his baarat (groom’s wedding procession) at the marriage venue. The groom stands waiting for the bride at the wedding stage for her to make her entry. When the bride arrives at the stage, both put Jai Mala over each other's neck. This exchange depicts that they have both accepted each other as partners.
The Jai Malas, is the first occasion where the bride and groom are joined together in a Hindu wedding. The exchanging of the garlands or the jai malas marks the first ritual of union between the bride and groom, it’s also a physical representation of consent between the two parties for the marriage.
Apart from being a traditionally significant ritual, Jai Mala is that zealous moment when even the shyest of brides burst into laughter. The families too join to make it merrier. Each respective party lifts the bride and groom higher in the air so that one can prolong and beat the other in their attempts.
Sure, hearty moments such as these will leave every guest in awe!
Flowers are typical of the Jai Malas or Varmalas because they signify a whole range of emotions as well as symbolize beauty, pleasure, excitement. The most preferred colors in Jai Mala for weddings include white, red, yellow, green, orange, etc.
Flowers like jasmine, marigold, roses, orchids, carnations, etc. are used to make these jamalas. A typical jai mala is made using jasmine flowers along with roses or marigold. The choice of flowers for the garland may vary across regions. In the North, they prefer red roses and white flowers while in the South marigolds and orange colored flowers are traditional preferences.
The overall size of the garlands may also differ from one community to the other. Jai Malas in southern India tend to be loaded with flowers and are usually long and heavy while in parts like North, jai malas are lighter and more delicate in appearance and style.
In some communities, instead of fresh flowers, tinsel and cash notes are used in garlands; the cash money is termed as a good luck charm for the couple.
These days, the bride and groom go for extremely elaborate Varmalas made of exotic flowers such as orchids, etc. They can even opt for artificially made jai malas, which can be useful for those allergic to pollen in real flowers.
The flowers in a garland symbolizes happiness, beauty, excitement, enthusiasm, zeal and aspiration. While the thread that holds the flowers together is a medium to secure these feelings and emotions. Just as the thread holds the flower together and never leaves them even if they have lost their charm and lustre with time, the same way the married couple take vows to stick to each other through thick and thin and share their life with each other through mutual understanding, love, passion, respect, trust and faith. The thread that ties the flowers signifies the union due to the marital bond between the two souls.
All in all Jai Mala or Varmala ceremony is a great depiction of love, respect and acceptance that the couple share with each other. It’s also a perfect ice-breaking session between the bride and the groom before they move onto more austere rituals of the wedding ceremony. No doubt Indian weddings are extremely popular around the world and this ceremony is one of those beautiful traditions besides many others.