My Big Fat Gujarati Wedding
We decided on a traditional Gujarati wedding and since Justin and his family and aren’t religious it made sense to only have one ceremony instead of two like most interracial (Indian vs. Non-Indian) couples do. All of my friends are super excited to share in this colorful experience. Our wedding will be 3 days and cover most of the usual events. (we aren’t doing all the events like a Sangeet or Garba, because, well, resources, time, money – you know. the usual factors) We decided on a winter wedding in butt fucking Egypt, but I’ll save the who, what, when, where for another post. So, like, what does a Gujarati wedding consist of?
First. its not all Priyanka and Nick. ha! had to get in there!
Every little sub-set has their own traditions. Just because you are Gujarati, it doesn’t mean you have the same traditions as the other ‘Guju” girl. Same goes within the sub-sets. Not all Patel’s have the same traditions as other Patel’s. Everything is done the way your elders did it in their “gam” (village in Gujarat). Since this is SO complex, I’m going to share what WE are doing. So if you’re reading this and thinking, “that doesn’t sound right,” DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. My traditions are just different than yours. Most Gujarati wedding journey’s start with the engagement ceremony known as Chanlo Matli.
The chandlo (which is the red mark down the middle of the temple) signifies the acceptance of the alliance between the two families. Indian weddings aren’t just about the bride and groom. It is about the joining of two families. Usually the bride’s father and four other males from her family “visit the groom carrying auspicious items and the bride’s father applies the chandlo on the groom’s forehead and gives him a shagun (a blessing symbolized by a token sum of money).” You’ll see the word auspicious used a lot during Indian ceremonies. We are BIG on alignment in the sun and stars, which ultimately leads to a favorable time, day or token of some sort. Justin and I didn’t have a Chanlo Matli, but my family is SO CUTE and threw us a very thoughtful engagement party complete with cake and Dom. You guys know how I feel about champs. Lagna Padiku This tradition is very much a Patel thing. It usually takes place a month or so before the wedding, but since Justin and I’s family live all over the country we did it in March when we were all in the same place at the same time. Essentially this is the formal acceptance of the groom’s family taking the bride in as their daughter. At this time both sides exchange wedding invites (traditionally both sides of the family will send out their own invites to the wedding) and formally accept that the marriage is going to happen. NO GOING BACK NOW. next.
The mendhi event, otherwise known as henna takes place a few days before the wedding. The bride gets TATTED UP. Not really, but beautiful patterns and pictures are drawn onto the bride covering most of her arms and legs. But like, why? “It is believed that the deeper the color on the bride’s hands, the stronger the love between husband and wife.” It has also been said that the bride will not do any work in the home until all the mendhi has left her body. Back in the day the bride would move into her in-laws house, so this was a big deal. No work in the house until it was gone. Maybe I should just ALWAYS wear mendhi. The mendhi ceremony is the kick off to the Gujarati wedding weekend so there is usually lots of food, drink and dancing involved
Next comes the pre-wedding ceremonies. The Vidhi takes place the day before the wedding during an auspicious time that the Maharaj (priest) has aligned and picked out. The Vidhi has 3 separate ceremonies: Mandva Mahurat & Griha Shanti This ceremony is V religious in significance because the parents of the couple seek the blessings of Mother Earth and ask permission to commence with the digging of the soil to erect the mandap (the canopy we get married in). Griha Shanti is a ceremony that seeks the blessings of all the planets and matches the bride and grooms horoscopes. The mandva mahurat is a Pooja to Lord Ganesh which rids all of the negative energy and obstacles leading to the actual wedding.
The Pithi ceremony is when the haldi (turmeric) takes place. The haldi paste is put all over the bride and grooms skin. It basically gives them a fun little facial before the wedding. Bright, soft skin. YES PLEASE. Mameru The bride receives gifts from her maternal uncle which consists of clothes, jewelry and other gifts. The actual wedding is followed after ALL OF THIS. but…. I think I’ll save that for another day!
Komal Patel is 31 years old and lives in Boston, MA and works as a Business Analyst. She is major foodie, wine and travel lover. In 5 months she will be married to the love of her life and has a 2 years old dog son. She has been living with vitiligo for 27 years and loves her Indian heritage.
She is also the founder/blogger of https://www.sweetandmasala.com/ where she share her passion for food and her Indian roots.