When it comes to a Sindhi wedding, be prepared to attend a host of numerous rituals, ceremonies and functions. Talk about Sindhi weddings and you get everything from rich and elaborate rituals, dancing, singing, and lavish feast. It’s true Sindhis believe in living life king size, which is quite obvious in the weddings that this fun-loving community organizes.
And wait, there’s one ritual that is quite unique and distinct about Sindhi weddings that’s the ritual of Saanth where the groom’s clothes are torn off. Now that’s something to watch out for.
Time to get to know more about the one-of-a-kind wedding rituals and traditions of a Sindhi wedding.
Kachhi Misri – The Kachhi Misri ceremony is 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 along with the families. The families give shagun or gifts for each other in the form of clothes, sweets, fruits etc. The couple exchanges the coconut and lumps of misri (sugar crystals). The sister of the groom has to place a red scarf or dupatta over the bride’s head, feeds her with the sweets and places five different types of fruits on her lap. The couple is allowed to meet after this ceremony.
Pakki Misri – It is the formal engagement ceremony between the bride and groom. A week before the actual wedding day, the groom’s family visits the bride’s home with gifts or shagun for the bride and her family. These gifts include clothes like saree or lehenga, jewelry, cosmetics, sweets and fruits, which are placed on the bride’s lap by the groom’s sister and sister-in-law. The groom’s mother gifts the bride’s mother 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 earthen pot, thus invoking his blessings for the occasion. The whole ceremony is conducted by a priest. Next the couple exchange rings in front of family, relatives 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 and mark the auspicious moment.
Berana Satsang - It’s a congregational prayer arranged by the whole family and relatives dedicated to the Almighty or Jhulelal. They ask him to bless the couple and the whole upcoming events so that no obstacles hinder their paths.
Lada – The Sindhi Sangeet ceremony is called Lada. Traditionally, it’s the groom’s family who hosts this event where women from the family, relatives, and from the neighborhood gather to perform singing of traditional folk wedding songs known as Lada as well. Dholaks (a typical Indian hand drum) and Thalis (plate) are beaten as an accompaniment to the vocal songs and women 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 (total 21 in number), dates (9 in number) and a ball of silk yarn in green color. Along with these samagris (items) he carries with him a piece of paper on which the wedding Lagna or the specific auspicious time of the wedding is written. He conducts a Ganesh Puja at the groom’s place with the samagris he has brought with him and places the piece of paper on the groom’s lap.
Saanth/Wanwas – The Saanth ritual is held separately at the bride’s and the groom’s house, usually a day before the wedding. It’s a pooja ritual in which the priest ties a challa or anklet around the right foot of the bride and groom. After that 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. Now they are supposed to wear a new shoe on their right foot and try to break an earthen lamp by stepping on it. If the bride or the groom succeeds then it’s considered a good omen. Now the fun part comes towards the end of this ceremony where the respective family and friends tear off their clothes as a symbol of warding the evil eye and ushering in the new.
Jenya – This special ceremony celebrates the groom’s transition from a boy to a man. The priest performs a sacred prayer along with a traditional yajna ritual, and he offers a holy thread to the groom who is supposed to wear it around his body. A special mantra is whispered in the groom’s ears by the priest, which the groom has to practice daily.
Saagri – The purpose of this occasion is to acquaint the bride with her new family. The groom’s family members and relatives visit the bride’s home with gifts. Each of them is introduced to the bride, who then receives gifts and best wishes from the guests. The bride is also showered with flowers as a symbol of blessing.
Ghari Puja – Another Sindhi ritual observed at both the bride’s and the groom’s house simultaneously. Married women of the family grind the wheat as a symbol of prevailing prosperity in the house. The whole ritual of Ghari Puja is quite lengthy.
Navagrahi pooja - This pooja ritual is performed on the morning of the wedding day. Various Hindu gods are worshipped along with the nine planets. The gods are welcomed as guests in the two houses and are offered food, water, and light. This is done to appease the stars and mythical deities so that they keep all the obstacles at bay from the paths of the soon-to-wed couple and the wedding happens smoothly without any glitches.
Haldi - On the morning of the wedding, the family members of the bride and groom gather to pour oil and haldi (turmeric paste) all over their hair and bodies as a form of purification. Usually, the married women of the family perform this ritual. Later the couple take the ceremonial bath to cleanse up before getting ready for the following wedding rituals.
Garo Dhago - This is another morning pooja ritual on the wedding day where the priest performs a pooja to offer prayers to the ancestors of both the families. A sanctified red thread is then tied to the wrist of the bothe the bride and groom.
The groom getting ready - The groom gets a ribbon tied on his hair as a protection from the evil eye. A red cloth is placed around his neck that consists of a coconut tied to its end. It is customary in a Aisndhi wedding for the brother of the bride and other female relatives to arrive at the groom’s house to accost him and his baraat (groom’s entourage) to the wedding venue.
Baraat - The groom and his wedding procession or baraat sets off for the wedding. The baraat approaches the wedding venue in a loud and boisterous manner dancing and singing to the wedding band’s music that accompanies them.
Swagat - On their arrival, the groom’s baraat is met by the bride’s family at the gate of the wedding venue. The groom is supposed to break an earthen lamp with his foot before entering. Sugar and cardamom are offered to the baraatis and rose water is sprinkled on them.
Paon Dhulai - The bride and groom are made to sit seated side by side at the wedding mandap or altar. Then the bride’s parents treat their son-in-law as the embodiment of Lord Vishnu and wash his feet with milk and water.
Jaimala - Next follows the jaimala ritual, where the bride and groom stand up from their seats and face each other. Now they exchange flower garlands or jaimala with each other three times. Thereafter comes the wedding ceremony.
Wedding ceremony - The cloth on the neck of the groom is tied to the bride’s headscarf. Simultaneously, the right hands of the couple are tied together with a sacred thread as the couple prays to the almighty for lifelong blessings. Then follows the Kanyadaan ritual in which the bride’s father officially hands his daughter away to the groom and requests him to care and respect his daughter for the rest of their lives. The father then pours holy water over the couple’s joined hands signifying his seal to the union.
Next, the holy fire is ignited and the priest starts chanting a series of holy prayer verses taken from sacred texts. The couple now take the pheras which means them walking around the fire four times. When the pheras are complete, the couple performs the Saptapadi ritual where the couple needs to place their right foot on seven small poles of rice, which signifies the start of their new journey surmounting each obstacle together. After the Saptapadi, all the wedding ceremony rituals are completed and the couple is announced as husband and wife. The couple then seeks blessing from the elders of both the families.
Vidaai - In this very touching ritual, the bride departs from her parent’s home amidst teary-eyed goodbye. The bride’s father gifts her parting gifts and then the couple sets off for the groom’s house.
Datar - This is a ritual where the bride is welcomed by her in-laws upon arrival after the wedding. The groom’s family members washes her feet. She then enters the home and sprinkles milk in all corners of the house as a custom. Thereafter, she places a handful of salt in her husband’s hands. He returns it back to her without spilling any salt. This is repeated three times. Then the bride does the same ritual with all other family members present.
Sataurah - The couple pays a visit to the bride’s parental home at an auspicious time of the day fixed by the priest. The bride’s parents host the newlyweds to a lavish lunch and also shower them with gifts.
Gadjani - The groom’s family hosts a formal reception in honor of the bride and groom. Moreover, delicious Sindhi vegetarian dishes are served.
For a Sindhi wedding, the bride prefers wearing Lehenga. Like other Indian cultures, red is considered the most auspicious wedding color, although the modern Sindhi may choose a lehenga in different colors of her choice. The lehenga can be heavily embellished with lots of decorative work such as embroidery, zari, beadwork, and may even be embedded with crystals. The Chunri or the headscarf is draped in 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. The bride also wears a lot of jewelry in gold, diamond or other precious stones.
A Sindhi groom’s traditional wedding attire generally consists of a highly decorative kurta pyjama which has now evolved into a Sherwani with a churidar pyjama. The Sherwanis are generally heavily embroidered with zari thread, stones and beads. He wears a Pagdi (a turban) on his head which is either tied by his father or a readymade one. He also incorporates minimal jewelry in his look, it can be a bracelet or a gold chain around his neck. In addition, he also carries a long scarf or shawl like clothing with his outfit.