Weddings are the epitome of romance, seeing two people promising to love and be with each till death does them apart is simply beautiful. Weddings anywhere in the world make one long to be with one’s partner. Indian weddings are especially special, they are filled with century-old traditions, love, laughter and music.
India is a land of diversity and its weddings are testimony to the fact that each region has its own traditional values and rituals to follow. Kumaon in Uttrakhand has unique wedding rituals that have been part of their marriages since a long time. Have you ever attended a Kumaoni Wedding – they are a delight to attend, the beautiful traditional ceremonies interwoven with the beautiful culture of the region takes you into a world that talks to you at a very elementary level. Kumaon people are simple and full of love – so are their weddings. Let us take you on a journey to a Kumaon wedding, an event full of love, laughter and elegantly attired bride, groom and the attendees.
Like every Indian wedding, a Kumaon wedding or a Pahari Wedding starts with some pre-wedding ceremonies like engagement, where instead of the bride and groom their fathers exchange the ring. Isn’t it great!
Then there is the Mehendi ceremony, which by the way is an essential part of all Indian weddings. In Kumaon the bride gets henna tattooed on her hands and feet, meanwhile, the groom also shows his love for the bride by getting henna tattooed on his hands. Here unlike the bride the groom just gets a small dot or design to keep up with the traditions.
Then the wedding day arrives, which is filled with a lot of traditions being observed by both sides. The day starts with Ganesh Puja, families pray to God to remove obstacles in the path of the bride and groom and bless them with an auspicious beginning and a beautiful married life.
Another beautiful tradition that we get to see on the wedding day is Suwal Pathai. This unique ceremony is very specific to Kumaon weddings, women of the family knead flour into dough and make round balls, which are then left in the sun to dry. These dried balls are then deep-fried and offered as Prasad to the deities.
The groom and the bride are considered as an avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi, hence they are treated with deference during all the rituals. Once the groom reaches the brides home he sits in puja with the bride’s father and the priest. The ceremony marks the start of the wedding rituals.
Then comes the most anticipated event, the varmala. This is when the bride and groom exchange garlands amongst a lot of cheer and laughter. Both the bride and grooms family have fun at the expense of the couple, teasing them to no end and yes trying not to let them garland each other.
After a sumptuous meal that again sees a lot of Kumaon dishes in the buffet selection, the bride and groom proceed towards the lagan mandap. Here amongst family and friends, the couple exchange vows filled with love and respect for each other. They take seven circles around the holy fire promising to be each other’s extended arm at all times. The kanyadan and the feras essentially tie the couple in a beautiful bond of love. Once the rituals are completed, the bride says a tearful bye to her family and leaves for her husband’s house.
Kumaon wedding though similar to weddings across India still has a distinct flavour of its century-old traditions embodied into the beautiful rituals performed during the ceremony.