Maharashtra - which literally means ‘the great land’ lives up to its name by being India’s wealthiest & most industrialized state by all major economic parameters. But ironically, the original inhabitants of this land, fondly known as the ‘Marathi’ people, were always highly simplistic. Even the great ‘Maratha’ rulers who are known to have conquered half the country, lived an unadorned lifestyle, unlike the rulers and kings in the rest of the country who were reveling in their riches and lived a life of extravaganze. Marathi, a culture highly inspired by the saints, has always believed in living a humble life devoting themselves to the land and to God
The same simplicity is reflected in all aspects of the Marathi people even today, be it the food, the attire, the occupations, etc. The Marathi weddings then, are certainly not an exception. Although a high exposure of cosmopolitanism and modern trends have introduced glitz and glam into the Marathi weddings and have introduced foreign rituals, the core remains the same. For instance, where a traditional Maratha arranged marriage involved enrolling the prospects into a maratha vadhu var suchak kendra , has now been replaced by a simple registration at any online maratha matrimony sites . A point to note here is that Marathi is an inclusive term encompassing many different castes and creeds such as Brahmins, Buddhists, Marathas, Vaishyas, etc. Hence, wedding ceremonies might differ for all of them. However, here are the ‘terms’ that you will most commonly hear when a Marathi wedding is around the corner.
The 5 stages in a typical Marathi wedding are as follows
1. Tila -The Booking Ceremony - Pronounced ‘Tea-laa’, is the Marathi version of ‘Rokha’ where a bride’s family and the groom’s family enter into a ceremonial contract to get the couple married in the future. This means the bride and groom have been booked for each other and can now safely opt out of any maratha marriage bureau if enrolled. This is the very first step which happens when the two families or the couple have qualified the basic criteria which may include things such as family background, education, interests, qualities, and in many cases patrikas or horoscopes. It is generally a small affair held on a tiny scale attended by none other than the immediate family members. This is where the couple can start officially dating each other.
2. Sakharpuda - The Engagement - Literally meaning ‘sugar packets’, sakharpuda is the official announcement in public that the bride and groom have accepted each other. A medium scale function is held where family and extended family members are primary attendees. Nowadays, this event has swollen into a grand affair. In sakharpuda, the bride-to-be is gifted a sari and a packet of sugar (or sweets nowadays), by the groom’s family. Following this the couple exchange rings. The significance of sugar is to celebrate the good news. From now on, the bride and groom bond is supposed to get stronger
3. Kelvan - This is actually an inverse ceremony where the bride and groom, along with their families, are separately invited for a meal by their respective relatives and friends.
4. Halad - Turmeric - The Haldi ritual or halad in Marathi is held right before the wedding day, where the groom is smeared with pounded turmeric over his body by a minimum of 5 married women, known as suhasinis. The haldi which is left over after applying to the groom’s body is then collected to be applied on the bride’s body. After this ceremony, the bride and groom are not allowed to go far from home, perhaps as a lockdown in case they have second thoughts!
5. Vivah - Wedding - Finally, the conclusion of this grand affair is accomplished by the lagna samaroh or the wedding ceremony. A Marathi wedding is not very flashy or grand in terms of the decor. It starts with Ganesh puja which makes way for the Vedic wedding where the bride and groom dress in the traditional Marathi attire. The bride usually wears a nauvari sadi which means a nine-yard saree, preferably green in color and made of silk. The groom wears a simple white and orange dhoti kurta. The idea is to emulate the perfect couple, Shiva and Parvati, who are the role models of every Hindu family. The marriage takes place amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras where the attendee's shower akshada (rice grains) to bless the couple. And yes, the food is vegetarian with alcohol strictly prohibited to maintain the sanctity of the occasion seeking the satisfaction of maximum people.