Gruhaprabesa Tradition and other Post Wedding Rituals in an Oriya Wedding

Oriya weddings have their own charm, deeply steeped into the traditions and customs of the soil, reflecting simplicity and warmth.  Each ritual is carried out with great humbleness and sincerity with the sole aim towards creating a harmonious bonding between two families.

Immediately after the wedding has been solemnized, a plethora of rituals take place as a part of the celebration. The bride and the groom participate in Kaudi Khela. It’s a ritualistic game wherein the groom first holds the little conch shells or the kaudi in his fist and then the bride tries to open the fist and take the Kaudi. Then the roles are reversed. Post several rounds of this game, the bride’s mother feeds her son-in-law with curd Pakhala with spicy eggplant mash. This ritual is known as Sasu dahi pakhaḷa khia.

Bidding Adieu to the Daughter

Oriya matrimony
Oriya matrimony

In Oriya matrimony, there is a very beautiful tradition of mourning the bride’s departure from her parental house to her new household by singing rhythmic songs. These songs are traditionally called as the Bahuna gita. These songs have been penned by poets unknown and have passed down to generations since time immemorial.  These songs talk about the daughter and how she has been an integral part of the household that she is leaving. The undertone of pain and separation is imminent.

Entering the New Household, the Gruhaprabesa

The bride is received and welcomed into the new household through a ritual called Gruhaprabesa. Here the mother of the groom assumes a pivotal role. In Oriya matrimony, the mother of the groom is not supposed to witness the wedding. So she stays back in her home, making preparations to receive the newlywed couple. In Oriya culture, the bride is revered as an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi and she is expected to light up the home and hearth with prosperity and happiness. A pot full of rice is kept at the entrance of the door and the bride tumbles the pot and enters the new household.

4 Days after the Wedding

Immediately after this ceremony and on the fourth day post the wedding, the newlyweds meet each other and partake in the evening puja and the homa or the yagna. Traditionally, a coconut is burnt in the yagna fire and the couple is offered with the roasted coconut flesh is offered as the prasada. This day is known as the Chauthi and the night that follows is known as the Basara rati. This marks the start of a conjugal relationship between the man and his wife. Before the couple retires, the bride lights an earthen lamp or the basara light, a symbol of relationship that glows with mutual respect and love.

On the eight day of the Oriya matrimony, the bride and the bridegroom visit the bride’s household for Asta Mangala. This is known as first formal invitation of the newlyweds as a couple. The couple is handsomely welcomed with gifts and a generous spread of traditional cuisine. Conch shells are blown accompanied by the hulu dhwani. The groom also gifts jewellery and sarees to his bride. This ritual marks the conclusion of the entire marriage ceremony.

The Role of Every Family Member in an Oriya Wedding

Oriya weddings are unlike the ones in several Hindu communities for Oriya matrimonial festivities are quite extraordinary. These functions last for quite a few days and each ceremony highlights a specific person of the bride or groom’s family for the ritual is supposed to be performed by them. It is a true fact that the bridegroom’s mother is not supposed to be present at the nuptials. In addition to this all of the senior ladies of the groom’s family are asked to stay away from the wedding.

There are quite a few intriguing customs, so read on to know more about the role of each family member in an Oriya wedding.

Oriya matrimonial
Oriya matrimonial
  • The Fathers Participating in the Nirbandh

Even though Brahmin Oriya marriages take place in the day and other castes opt for evening functions, the ceremonies involving family members are many. The Nirbandh is the engagement ceremony that the fathers of the girl and boy initiate. Both the families meet up at the girl’s residence where the ceremony is to be conducted. In Oriya weddings, both the fathers make a promise to bind their children in matrimony.

However, this is a ceremony purely for the fathers of the couple for the bride and groom don’t involve themselves with the rite.

  • The Jayee Anukolo for the Bride and Groom’s Maternal Uncles

At the time of the distribution of wedding invites that are better known as nimantran patras; Lord Jagannath gets the primary invite after which the others are sent. The girl and her groom’s maternal uncles are them supposed to get the next card before all of the other guests.

  • Mangan with the Bride’s Female Relatives

This is a replica of a haldi ceremony where seven of the girl’s female relatives surround her at the time of the mangan. They then set about blessing her and spreading haldi on her body; however, all of the seven female relatives participating must be married as is the custom.

  • Tilak after the Barajatri by the Bride’s Mother

The Barajatri is when the groom and his entire clan along with relatives arrive at the wedding venue or the bride’s home with much fanfare. The bride’s mother then has the custom of inviting them in after she has conducted the tilak ritual. This entails a short aarti of the groom after which she applies a tilak of rice grains to his forehead.

  • Rites by the Bride’s Brother

While the couple stands next to the sacred fire, the bride’s brother has to offer fluffed rice to his sister who then sends it into the agni; this offering is called lajja. The bride’s brother also is involved in the sala bidha where he has to playfully beat his sister’s groom so that he remembers his responsibilities toward her.

  • Kanyadaan by the Bride’s Father

During the wedding the father of the bride performs the kanyadaan where he hands over his daughter to the groom by putting fluffed rice on the couple’s hands.

All of the couple’s family members participate in the rites and rituals that bind them together, in a holy union.

The Nitty-Gritty’s of Utkala Brahmin Wedding Ceremony in Orissa

Oriya matrimonial is generally arranged by seniors in the family. These alliances are fixed in compliance with the traditions and values of the family. I many families, it is compulsory to match horoscopes before fixing any wedding alliance. It is believed that better match of horoscopes indicates a better married life for the couple. The Utkala Brahmin wedding is usually a daytime affair. The first invitation is offered to Lord Jagannath. After this invites are sent to friends and family to grace the wedding ceremonies. The invites are accompanied with betel respect. This is a sign of respect for those receiving the invites.

Oriya matrimonial
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Oriya Brahmin Wedding Rituals

An Utkala Brahmin Oriya matrimonial event is a prolonged celebration, with numerous rituals and ceremonies. The celebrations start a day before the wedding day and continue even after the wedding. Each ritual has its own significance and importance to the Utkala Brahmin community.

Mangana

This ceremony is held during the day and is performed one day before the D day. The Mangana ceremony is performed by seven un-widowed women. A paste is prepared with turmeric (haldi) and oil. It is then applied on the bride’s face, neck, arms and legs.

The same ceremony is performed at groom’s place, as well. The only difference is that haldi is applied to groom by his un-widowed sister-in-law. The Mangana ceremony is considered auspicious in Oriya matrimonial alliances as it helps to start a happy married life.

Jairagada Anukula

This ceremony is performed to mark the stoking of fire. It involves grinding uncooked pulses in a mortar and pestle. The prepared paste is sent for preparation of Dahi and Pitha.

Puja for Dian Mangula

This important ceremony is performed by both families at the temple of Gramadevati. As a customary ritual, all offering to the Goddess are made by the barber and his wife on behalf of families.

The barber’s wife (Baarikiyani) presents things like toe ring, bangles, sari, and sindur to the Goddess. The barber presents the vermilion to the deity to seek blessings for the couple’s happy wedded life. This Puja and offerings ceremony is followed by the Nandimukha ceremony to invoke the ancestors of the other family.

Barajatri-Baadua Pani Rasam

This is the most important and interesting part of an Oriya matrimonial event. The groom proceeds towards the venue and is accompanied by his friends and family. The wedding procession is conducted with great magnificence and pomp. This is the Barajatri custom (baraat).

When the procession arrives at the venue, the groom is welcomed by Tilak or Aarti. His feet are washed with coconut water. Then, he is offered curds with ghee and honey and brought to mandap.

The bride is informed about the arrival of the Baraat. After being informed, the bride is taken for a ceremonial bath. This custom is called Baadua Pani Gadhua Rasam.

After the groom has settled in mandap, the bride arrives to the mandap. The arrival of bride is followed by other Oriya matrimonial customs and rituals, including Jaimala (exchange of garlands between the bride and groom), Kanyadan (the bride’s father hands over the girl’s responsibility to groom) and Hathi Ganthi Phita (tying the holy knot while the bride’s palm is on the groom’s palm). These ceremonies are followed by Bidaai where bride leaves her maternal house to lead a happy married life with groom and his family.