Taking Steps Forward: From Maternal Home to In-Laws

It would not be wrong to say that each wedding is intertwined with bittersweet emotions. On one hand, there is an immense joy of two families coming together and uniting as one, while on the other hand, there is a sweet sadness of the new bride leaving her parents’ home. 

Bidaai:

Once the wedding ceremony has concluded, the bride bids farewell to her family during the ritual of Bidaai (or Vidaai). 

The Significance of Bidaai: 

In India, daughters have always been considered "Paraya Dhan" as they eventually belong to/ with someone else. The bride bids farewell to her maternal home. This is one of the most sensitive, emotional outbursts of any wedding ceremony. Being the last ritual of an Indian wedding, this ceremony marks the end of the girl’s life as a daughter and her new beginning as a wife and a daughter-in-law. 

As their treasured daughter wholeheartedly welcomes a new life of bliss, her parents are filled with emotions of happiness for her, and bless her with all their heart and soul. The thought of their beloved child leaving them to be a part of a new home wells up their eyes with tears. 

The Ritual: 

- Once the rituals of Kanyadaan, Phere, and Aashirwaad have been concluded, the bride walks out of her maternal home with the groom. She pauses at the doorstep and throws three handfuls of rice and coins back over her head. This symbolizes that she is repaying her parents for nurturing her beautifully. With rice (the symbol of health) and coins (the symbol of wealth), the bride wishes that her maternal home might always be filled with health, wealth, and prosperity! 

- The father of the bride takes his daughter’s hand and places it in the hand of her husband. The bride’s parents request their son-in-law to take care of their daughter and always stand by her side through their journey of life. 

- Amidst all these bittersweet moments of separation, the bidaai ceremony also witnesses some light moments of jesting when the bride’s sister hides the groom’s shoes. She returns them back only after receiving a Shagun (gift) from her brother-in-law! 

- Finally, the bride hugs her parents, touches the feet of the elderly people in her family and makes her way to the Palanquin or the groom’s car to leave for her new home.  

Grihapravesha: 

After the bride arrives at her new home, the groom’s mother, with utmost love and warmth, welcomes her. This ceremony is known as Grihapravesha (homecoming). 

Various customary rituals are performed and games are played as an icebreaker – to welcome the nervous bride. 

The Rituals:

The groom’s family stands inside the house to welcome the couple, while the bride and the groom wait at the doorstep. The mother-in-law performs Aarti for the newlyweds and applies tilak on the foreheads of the couple. This is done to ward off the effects of any evil spirits.

Thereafter, the bride knocks over a Kalash (a pot filled with rice) using her right big toe and steps into a dish filled with Alta (red vermillion). She walks into her new home leaving behind the auspicious, red footprints. These footprints symbolize the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi- bringing wealth and prosperity to her new home. 

Since it may be a bit overwhelming for a new bride to embrace the new relatives and responsibilities, post-wedding games are played as a part of the customary traditions. This helps as an icebreaker and makes the bride feel more comfortable with her new family 

With the changing trends in Indian weddings, unlike the olden times, the bride and the groom meet well before tying the knot. This helps them gel well with each other, as well as their families. But, the post wedding games are still played to bring in a fun element after the tearful bidaai. 

Each game has its own significance wherein the bride and the groom are pitted against each other. One such game is when the bride and the groom have to find a ring in a bowl filled water, milk and rose petals.  

Another game is the "Pillow Talk". The couple is made to sit with their backs facing each other and a pillow is held in between. Questions are asked and the couple is asked to respond with a "yes" or a "no" just by nodding their heads. This game is used to check the compatibility of the couple! 

"Untying The Knot" is another funny game where a knotted string is tied on both, the bride and the groom. They both are required to untie the knot using just one hand. This game fills up the room with a delightful humor! 

In Sindhis, a "Salt" ceremony is performed wherein the bride passes a fistful of salt into her husband's hand without dropping even a pinch! She repeats this with all the family members. This ritual signifies that she will blend in with her new family just like salt mixes with the food. 

A reception is held after grihapravesha, either on the same day as the wedding, or the day after. This is a formal party thrown by the groom's family. This is to let everyone who could not make it to the wedding congratulate and bless the newly-weds! 

Grihapravesha In Various States of India: 

Orissa: 

In the Oriya customs, the entry of the newlyweds into their new home is called "Gruhaprabesa". The ritual is pretty much the same as in other cultures, wherein the bride steps into her new home using the right foot first. 

Bengal: 

In Bengalis, the grihapravesha tradition is slightly different.  

The bride is presented with red and ivory bangles, known as the "Shankha- Pola" bangles. Also, a metal bangle is given which is called "Ioha".  

The bride is also fed with a welcome meal known as "Bharan Poshan"- in which the in-laws give her a plate full of sweets. She also is presented with a saree. The bride prepares a "Bahubhaat"- a rice dish, as a means of reciprocation. This signifies that she has accepted her in-laws as her own, and is now a part of their clan!

Gujarat:

In Gujarat, Grihapravesha rituals are pretty much the same. One game that is highly popular in the Gujarati culture is known as "Aeki-Beki". In this, a ring is placed in a broad vessel containing water, milk, coins, and vermillion powder. Whoever ends up finding the ring first will "rule the roost!"

 

December 28, 2016
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