If it’s a Rajput wedding, then be assured that their wedding is one of a kind, worth remembering. With a lineage of royal blood in Rajasthan (the land of Maharajahs), Rajputs weddings are all about their rich cultural heritage. Their weddings are quite famous for their swords, authentic jewelry and ornaments, Rajputana attires, and traditional customs and rituals that make everything of a Rajput wedding a grand and royal affair.
Rajput weddings have a royal and resplendent touch to everything from colors, celebrations, music, dance, decor, and food. The bride and groom are dressed up in their finest like a king and queen. Their ceremonies and rituals last for up to a week. And everything about this wedding screams magnificence combined in rituals that go back to centuries.
Let’s have a close look at the traditional wedding rituals and customs of the Rajputs.
Tilak - The Rajput wedding ceremony starts with the Tilak ceremony. This marks the official declaration of the commitment of the new union. The male family members of the bride visit the groom’s house. The brother of the bride applies the tilak on the forehead of the groom. The family members of the bride also give the groom’s family gifts such as a sword, gold jewelry, sweets, fruits, among other gifts.
Ganpati Sthapana and Grah Shanti Pooja - Like every Hindu tradition, Rajut wedding rituals too are carried out according to the destined dates in astrology. Once the dates are fixed as per the muhurat that is an auspicious date for the ceremony according to the astrological calculations, the families start prepping for the Ganapati Sthapana. This ceremony is organized a couple of days before the wedding to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Both the families do this pooja at their homes separately. In this ritual, the priest performs a havan (offerings to the holy fire) and installs a Ganesha idol in the home.
Pithi Dastoor - Similar to a Hindu Haldi ceremony, this ceremony is held at the bride and groom’s home respectively. The female members of the family and close relatives put a paste of turmeric and sandalwood on the skin of the bride and groom. The ladies also sing and dance to traditional wedding songs.
Mahira Dastoor or Bhaat - This Rajput custom is again done in both the bride and groom’s place separately. The uncles (especially the maternal uncle called mama) present the whole family with gifts including garments, jewelry, and sweets. This involvement of maternal uncles symbolizes his responsibility to provide financial assistance to his sister's family during major events like the wedding of the children.
Janev - In this custom, the groom wears a saffron-colored dress and performs an auspicious ritual or havan with a priest. This ceremony signifies his acceptance of taking responsibility as a married man. It represents the transformation from being a bachelor to a householder.
Palla Dastoor - In this function held a day or two before the wedding, the relatives of the groom visit the bride's house. They carry a few presents including clothes, jewelry, an array of items of the bridal wedding trousseau, sweets, and many more items.
Baraat and Nikasi - A Rajput groom wears a Safa or a Pagdi before leaving the wedding with his baraat (wedding procession). His sister-in-law (brother’s wife) puts Kajal on him from her eyes. This act is the Nazar Utarna ritual to avert the evil eye. It is quite common in India and is considered auspicious on several occasions. In addition, the sister-in-law or his sisters tie a golden thread to the female horse that the groom will be riding to the wedding venue. But, before leaving he visits a temple to seek blessings before the Nikaasi when the groom proceeds to his wedding with his entourage.
Arrival of the Groom and Dhukav - When the bridegroom and his baraat reach the wedding venue, they are given a warm welcome. There is a particularly decorated entranceway called Dhukav or Toran. The groom has to hit the dhukav with his sword, which symbolizes the warding off of the evil eye and his acceptance of the welcome to his in-laws with the blessings of God. The mother of the bride then performs aarti and applies a tilak on the groom’s forehead.
The priest alights the holy fire or havan. Throughout the Rajput wedding, the bride’s face is supposed to be hidden under a veil. Here are the Rajut wedding rituals and traditions.
Granthi Bandhan or Gathjoda and Panigrahan - The Granthi Bandhan also called Gathjoda ritual symbolizes the eternal union and bond of two souls where the fabric of the groom’s scarf is tied with the chunri/dupatta of the bride in a knot. It’s either the priest or the groom’s sister who ties the knot.
Right after comes the Panigrahan ritual, the bride places her hand on the groom’s hand and he holds her hands with a promise to be together for eternity.
Sindoor - A highly auspicious ritual, where the groom applies sindoor (vermilion powder) to the bride’s forehead at the center of the hair parting. This ritual represents the groom welcoming the bride in his life as his wife. The sindoor also completes the whole bridal look.
Pheras - The bride and the groom together with the Gathjoda knot on, walk around the holy fire seven times (signifying seven lives). They take vows to stick to each other in any situation that life throws at them. The priest chants sacred mantras, which the couple repeats together.
Aanjhala or Choll Bharai - At the end of the wedding ceremony, it’s customary from the groom’s side to place a bag full of money on the bride’s lap. This symbolizes that the family’s financial responsibility is now on her shoulders. She has to then distribute the money equally among her sister-in-law and her husband. The newlywed couple then asks for blessings from the elders before the bride departs for her husband’s home.
Bidai - Bidai is the official goodbye to the bride when she leaves her parental home after marriage. It is a Rajput wedding tradition to place a coconut under the wheels of the car, which is to be broken when it moves.
Grihapravesh - Once the newly wed couple arrives at the groom’s house, the family of the groom welcomes the new bride into the family with pooja and rituals. It is known as griha pravesh where the bride enters her new home for the first time (after the marriage).
Pagelani - On the day following grihapravesh, the Pagelani ceremony takes place to formally introduce the bride to the groom's other family members, relatives and friends. Each family member blesses the bride with gifts as a welcome gesture.
A Rajput bride dresses up like a true queen. She adorns gold and diamond jewelry which consists of ornaments such as earrings, chokers, mattha patti (bridal ornament placed along the hairline, forehead, and hair), chooda (traditional bangles), and anklets.
On the other hand, a Rajput groom sports a regal look by wearing a sherwani or achkan (a full-sleeved long or knee-length coat that button downs the front), sarpech (turban), jootis (traditional Rajasthani shoes) and special jewelry. Not to forget, like the king, the bridegroom completes his look by carrying a sword, which is a tradition in Rajput weddings.