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Weddings in Odisha

An Odia Hindu wedding, or bahagha, is a wedding ceremony performed by Odia Hindu people in the Indian state of Odisha. There are subtle differences in the rites observed by different castes. In the Odia marriage rituals mother of the bridegroom does not take part in the ceremony. The Utkala Brahmins have their weddings only in the daytime, preferably mid day or mornings, while the other caste weddings are done during the evening or night. There is the custom of sending betel nuts to family friends for inviting them to the marriage. The first invitation is sent to Jagannath as a respect to the lord. Marriages in Odisha are mostly fixed and arranged by the parents. Marriages for serving or capturing is not common. In the Odia community widow remarriage is allowed in some lower caste, in this case the younger brother is allowed to marry the deceased brother's wife.[citation needed] The marriage happens in three major rituals, Nirbandha (fixing the marriage), Bahaghara (wedding) and Chauthi/Chaturthi (consummation). A marriage is not considered complete or valid until consummation. These rituals are performed either at the Duara (bride's house) or Tola kanias house. (Bridegroom's residence).

Arranging the wedding

The wedding is arranged by the elders of both the family. The arrangement depends on the family values and traditions. Some families consider the horoscope matching mandatory. The better the match, the happier will be the couples married life. However, the marriage largely depends on the bride and groom's mutual acceptance to each other and to both the families.

Pre-Wedding Rituals

Once the marriage alliance is fixed, the ceremony starts up with Nirbandha or Lagna dharaa, the engagement ceremony. The fathers of the bride and groom make a vow Sankalpa by holding sacred articles to get their children wed to each other and the whole ritual happens either in the bride's house or a temple in the presence of the bridegroom and bride. This is considered as a commitment signal or Vaak Nischaya to proceed with marriage arrangements, which is accompanied with exchange of gifts between both families for bride and bridegroom.

Jwain anukula Ceremony

Jwain anukula ceremony marks the initiation of marriage rituals which happens in the bridegroom's house. This is followed by the distribution of Nimantra?a patra (invitation cards).

Nimantrana

"Deva Nimantrana": Nimantrana or Invitation marks the public announcement of the marriage function. As per Odia custom, the first card is sent to the family divinity. Usually the first card is placed before Lord Jagannath.

"Moula Nimantrana": The second invitation goes to the bride and groom's maternal uncle. This is call Moula Nimantrana. This has to go with some family member in person along with beetel nuts. Uncle or "Mamu" is one of the most respectable persons in events like marriages. Invitations can now be distributed among friends and relatives.

"Jwain Nimantrana": Next to "Mamu", "Jwain" or son-in-law of the family is the most respectable invitee in marriages. In "Odia Sanskruti" and probably many other Indian customs, the "Jwain Nimantrana" ritual has an important significance. The Bride side father and other important person from family go to groom house with "Sweekar" and invite the groom. As per Odia rituals, no female should accompany them for this invite. Also, There is a strong religious reason for the same:

As per Hindu Mythology, when "Dakshya Prajapati" arranged for a great Yajna ("Hawan"), he intentionally didn't invite his son-in-law "Lord Shiva". Wanting to visit her parents, relatives and childhood friends, Sati sought to rationalize this omission. She reasoned within herself that her parents had neglected to make a formal invitation to them only because within family, such formality was unnecessary; certainly, she needed no invitation to visit her own mother and would go anyway. So, despite dissuasion from Shiva.. Sati wanted to go. So finally Shiva let her go with his ganas. However, upon reaching there within no time Sati realized this mean intention of his father to offend Shiva. Sati was very upset by thinking herself as the cause of this dishonour to her husband. She was consumed by rage against her father and loathing for his mentality. Unable to bear this disrespect to her husband, Sati invoked her yogic powers and immolated herself. Shiva sensed this catastrophe, and his rage was incomparable. He loved Sati more than anything. He devastated the "Yajna" and supposedly slapped "Dakshya Prajapati" that Dakshya was be-headed by Shiva's stroke. Dakshya's head fell in the Yajna Agni. (later upon God's request, shiva gave rebirth to Dakshya by replacing a goat head). Shiva was then with rage into Tandava. Learning a lesson from this, the significance of "Jwain Nimantrana" came into effect, so that no one else should ever think of insulting the son-in-law of a family in ceremonies.

Mangana

The ceremony of Mangana is done one day before marriage mostly during afternoon.During 'mangana' people bless the bride and groom and then anointing turmeric paste on her body followed by the bride's ceremonial bath where turmeric paste (ha?adi ba?a) is put on her body by seven un-widowed women.Similarly the groom also undergoes turmeric anointment by his sister in law whose husband is alive.

Jairaga? anuku?

It is a ceremony, which marks the stoking of the fire. The uncooked pulses are ground with help of mortar and pestle and the paste is sent for preparing Dahl, Pitha etc.

Dian mangu? puja

Dian mangu? puja is conducted at the gramadevati's temple. Baarikiyani (wife of a barber) offers the bride's bangles, toe ring, sindura and sari to the Goddess. During the Dian manga?a Puja prayers are offered to the deity of a temple. The bridal saree, toe rings and sindura (Vermilion are offered before the Lord by the barber and the blessings of the Gods invoked for a long and happy married life.Later the Father of groom and bride invoke each other's ancestors with a ritual called Nandimukha.

Barajatri & Baadua Pani Gadhua Custom

The groom along with his marriage procession arrives at the wedding venue with a procession. This is known as Barajatri. barajatri or Varaanugamana is the ceremonial procession when the groom and his family members and friends arrive at the wedding mandap amid great pomp and magnificence. Upon arrival of the baraat the groom is greeted with aarti or tilak followed by washing the feet of groom with tender coconut water and offering of curd mixed with honey and ghee.The bride is decorated with fine traditional jewelry. Odia brides are traditionally dressed in yellow sarees with red borders called as Boula Patta for the wedding. However, these days, red, pink and orange outfits are also common.

In the Baadua Pani Gadhua custom, the girl's side informs the bride that the baraat has come. Thereafter, arrangements are made for her holy bath. The bride is informed of the groom's arrival and then she takes another ceremonial bath called Baadua Pani Gadhua.

Main Wedding Rituals

Bridegroom attire

The Odia bridegroom wears dhoti and kurta or sometimes drapes a white silk cloth around known as the "jor?a ". In the post-wedding reception, the groom wears formal attire, traditional Odia clothing or western. Dhoti is worn, or rather draped around, the waist in a particular pattern. Generally a white or cream colored dhoti is worn. A scarf like cloth called "uttariya" is put on left side of the shoulder. While the wedding rituals are on, the groom wears the "jor?a", a white colored silk cloth draped around the bare body of the groom.

Bridal attire

"A?ata pindha" (Decorating feet with Alata, a red liquid that is used to paint the feet of the bride and groom during marriage). The bride in Odisha wears a traditional yellow Sari with red borders. She is adorned with fine gold jewelry. The bride's mother, female relatives and her friends decorate the bride.

There are a variety of dresses and costumes, which are worn by the bride and groom on special events like a wedding. Bridal saris are usually made of silk, cotton, chiffon and so on.

Traditional Odishan saris used are

  • Sambalpuri Saree of Sambalpur
  • Ikkat of Bargarh
  • Khandua pata (both Silk & Cotton) of Cuttack
  • Bomkai or Sonepuri Sari (Silk & Cotton) of Subarnapur
  • Brahmapuri pata of Bramhapur
  • Matha silk or Tussar Silk of Mayurbhanj
  • Bapta cloth (Silk & Cotton) of Koraput
  • Tanta Cotton of Baleswar
  • Bride's complexion is taken into consideration while choosing the saris

Wedding Day Ceremonies

A number of rituals lace the wedding day whilst making it a day far apart from the other three sixty-four days.

Kanyadana

The wedding ritual begins with the Kanyadana ceremony which is held on the vivaha vedi.This structure is decorated with lots of flowers and leaves. This is the traditional ritual of handing over the daughter to the groom. The customary fire is lit and the priests chant the mantras. Seven heaps of rice grain symbolizing the seven hills and the saptakulaparwata are worshipped during the Saptapadi rite. The couple takes seven rounds around the fire symbolizing the sacred fire as the witness for the marriage. In this custom, the bride's father gives his dear daughter's hand to the groom with the promise that going forward bridegroom will take care of her. This ritual called Hata Ganthi or Pani Grahana onwards the bride considers herself as member of her husband's family instead. That's why bride is called "duhita", meaning who is grown up in two families to do good for them at respective phase i.e. before marriage bride considers her parental family as her home and is considered auspicious to them. Similarly after marriage the bride is loyal to her husband's family and is treated auspicious as the daughter-in-law of her new family. In fact after kanyadaan the bride steps out of her parental home to spend the rest of her life in her husband's family. Hence, her husband's family has much more significance to an Odia bride compared to her parental home where she lived her initial years of life only. Until recently, before the concept of divorce came into Indian society, it was considered that only death may separate a bride from her in-laws home which is in fact her true own home after marriage.

Hata ganthi Phita

Hata Ganthi, or Panigrahana ritual of tying knot by keeping the bride's palm on groom's.

An Odia bride offering khai on fire during marriage at the time of Lajja Homa or Khai poda.

During hata gan?hi, the bridegroom takes seven rounds around the holy fire of homa, to the chant of mantras and slokas. A garland made of mango leaves which is considered as a holy symbol is bound by keeping the bride's hand along with bride groom's hand. 'Laja' or 'Khai' (puffed rice), a symbol of prosperity is offered to the fire which is called "khaipoda" (burning khai) considering the bride as an avatar of Laxmi who brings wealth and prosperity to the new home. 'Khai' is tossed onto the path of the new wed while they enter the home, the new bride tilts a vessel filled with rice with her right feet making the rice spills over the ground to make a way to her new home.

The bride's brother stands behind the couple while the couple faces each other. The bride placed her hands on the grooms and her brother puts the puffed rice into them. Together they offer this Laja as 'ahuti' or sacrifice to the God of fire amidst the chanting of mantras. Finally the knot is opened by younger sister of the bride or Shaali.The groom and bride go to see the pole star Polaris. The groom applies Sindura on the hair parting of bride and Shankha on arms (the vermilion powder and bangles ) which is called Sinduradaan.

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