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A Bihari wedding is a traditional wedding celebration in the Indian state of Bihar and is steeped in rituals, customs, and cultural practices that have been passed down through generations. Bihari weddings are known for their lavishness, elaborate preparations, and vibrant cultural events. They are a time for families to come together and celebrate the union of two people in marriage. A Bihari wedding is a celebration of love, commitment, and the bond between two families. It is a time for joy, laughter, and memories that will last a lifetime. The wedding reflects Bihar's rich cultural heritage and is a testament to the importance of family and community in Bihari society.
The pre-wedding rituals in a Bihari wedding begin with Ganesh Puja, where Vighnaharta or Ganesh ji is worshipped to remove obstacles, blockages, and inauspiciousness from the wedding. The next ritual is the “Jaimala” ceremony, where the bride and groom exchange flower garlands.The 'Sagai' ceremony is an important pre-wedding ritual where the bride and groom's families come together to exchange engagement rings. This is followed by the “Mehendi” ceremony, where the bride has intricate henna designs applied to her hands and feet.
Satyanarayan Katha, or Pooja, is a Hindu religious ritual performed by families in honour of Lord Vishnu. In a Bihar marriage, this pooja is often performed during the wedding celebrations to seek blessings from Lord Vishnu. The Katha involves chanting hymns and prayers, offering flowers and food to the deity and reciting the story of the triumph of Lord Vishnu over the demon Bali.
At traditional Bihari weddings, the Chekka ceremony is similar to the roka ceremony in Hindu culture and traditions. In the Chekka ceremony, the bride and groom’s families come together to exchange gifts and bless the couple. In Bihari wedding rituals, the Chheka ceremony is a way to officiate the relationship between the groom and the bride.
According to traditional Bihari weddings, a haldi is used in a wedding several times. Haldi is an integral part of any wedding ceremony as it stands for beauty, purity, and auspiciousness.
The Tilak ceremony is an important pre-wedding ritual in Bihar. It is performed a few days before the wedding day. During this ceremony, the bride's brother applies a tilak on his brother-in-law, welcoming him to his side of the family.
The Haldi ceremony is an integral part of a Bihari wedding. This ritual takes place separately at the bride's and groom's places. The bride and groom are said to be most radiant after the Haldi ceremony, and their beauty is said to be enhanced by the glowing turmeric paste. The Haldi ceremony is done to bring good luck, ward off evil and ensure a smooth and harmonious married life.
In a traditional Bihari wedding, the mandap, where the actual wedding processions such as pheras and Kanyadaan takes place, is decorated with mango or banana leaves.
Dhritdhaari and Matripooja
This ritual in a Bihari marriage is dedicated to both sides' ancestors( also known as Purvaj). First, both couples' parents conduct a small pooja devoted to their ancestors, seeking blessings for the couple and their family. Then after the pooja, clothes and money or food are offered to elderly family members.
Silpoha and Imli Ghutai
Silpoha is the Bihari wedding rituals that are performed on the wedding day. In a traditional Bihari wedding, the bride's mother takes some pieces of poha( also known as rice) and grinds them with the help of a Silbatta or pestle. Silpoha and Imli Ghutai are the last rituals that occur a day before or at the wedding.
In The Imli Ghutai ceremony, the groom's maternal uncle( also known as mama) advises him to stay away from bad habits as he starts a new chapter in his life. During the ceremony, the groom is given a supari( also known as a nut) to put in his mouth.
The auspicious wedding day begins with the arrival of the Baraat. The Baraat is the wedding procession where the groom arrives on horseback or a beautifully decorated car. Then, the bride’s family welcomes them with an “Aarti”, a sacred light ceremony.
The next ritual is the “Kanyadaan”, where the bride's father gives her hand in marriage to the groom. This is followed by the “Saat Phere”, where the bride and groom take seven vows, promising to be with each other in sickness and health, for richer or poorer.
The groom arrives at the wedding venue with his wedding procession, known as the Baraat. It is accompanied by music and dancing, with the groom riding a horse or an elaborately decorated vehicle. Also, it is a lively and colourful procession, adding to the overall ambience of the wedding.
Jaimala and Galsedi
The Jaimala ceremony stands for acceptance, and this is where the bride and groom exchange flower garlands and strengthen their union. The Galsedi ceremony is where the married female members of the groom's side take the front stage. The ash from the burning of betel leaves (also known as paan ke patte) is spread on the groom's side.
Kanganbandhana and Kanyadaan
As the name suggests, Kanganbandhana is the ceremony where the priest ties a thread around both the bride and groom's wrists.
Kanyadaan is a ritual performed by the bride's father where he officially transforms his duty as a protector and provider of his daughter to the groom. During Kanyadaan, the bride's father gives his daughter away to the groom and asks him to be her protector.
Bhaisur Nirakshan and Phera
In the Bihari wedding, the groom's elder brother is known as 'Bhaisur'. So, in Bhaisur Nirakshan, the elder brother of the groom gifts jewellery and sarees or jewellery. However, in some families, if the groom has no elder brother, this ritual is performed by the groom's father, aka the bride's father-in-law. Bhaisur Nirakshan ritual is followed by Pheras, where the bride and groom take seven vows around the sacred fire.
Salami and Bidaai
Salami and Bidaai are the two ceremonies that are the last on the wedding day. Now that the bride is officially married and set to leave her parent's house to start a new journey in her life, it is time for rituals like Salami and Bidaai. In Salaami, the groom is gifted with cash and sweets by the elderly family members of the bride.
After the wedding, the couple visits the groom’s home for the “Grihapravesh” ceremony, where they enter their new home for the first time. This is followed by the “Reception”, where the newlyweds are formally introduced to their friends and family.
Kohwar or Kohbar Parikshan is considered a private and intimate event only attended by the close female members of the family. First, all the older women enter the bride's room( kohbar) to check whether or not the couple has consummated the marriage. Then, the female members search for red blood spots on the bed sheet.
Swagat Aarti is a post-Bihari marriage ritual performed for the first time when a new bride enters her in-laws' house for the first time.
A common tradition is for the groom's mother to perform an aarti ceremony, where a lit lamp or diya is circled around the bride's head while singing traditional songs.
The Mooh Dikhai ceremony is an important part of Bihari wedding traditions and is a joyous occasion that brings families and communities together to celebrate the couple's union. The ceremony is usually held at the groom's family, attended by his close relatives, extended family and friends.
The Chauthari ceremony occurs on the same day as Muh Dikhai and Swagat Aaarti. In most families, the pandit blesses the couple, and seeks blessings and graces from the Almighty by chanting the Satyanarayan Katha.
Chauka Chulai Ritual
The next day, the newly-wedded Bihari bride is supposed to cook a meal in her husband's place for the first time. In most families, it is said to be auspicious if the bride cooks something sweet, such as halwa. Once the meal is ready, all of the family members taste the dish cooked by the bride. Then, the older family members, such as the mother-in-law and father-in-law, give Shagun to the bride as a ritual.