The Ceremonies of a Parsi Wedding


May 19, 2008

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Parsi Lagan or Wedding is marked by vibrant and joyful customs that spread over a couple of days. Unique and interesting rituals begin from the time of engagement and culminate with a lavish post wedding reception where one gets to enjoy the rich Parsi culture in the form of good music, wine and dining.

Pre-Wedding Rituals:

A number of colorful and fun-filled customs are observed as a part of pre-wedding rituals in a Parsi Wedding.

* Rupia Peravanu: Rupia Peravanu marks the unofficial engagement when both the families acknowledge the acceptance of the marriage alliance. On this day, ladies from the groom’s family pay a visit to the bride’s house. The bride is presented with a gift of silver coins with the usual shagun. Refreshments are served and the grooms family return home. The bride’s family now adds more silver coins to those presented and go to the groom’s home, where this ceremony is repeated.

* Madhosaro: Madhavsaro ceremony is observed four days before the wedding. The families of the bride and the groom each plant a young tree in a pot, amidst recitation of prayers by the family priest and place this at the entrance of their homes. This is generally a mango plant and is treated as a symbol of fertility. The soil in which the tree is planted is mixed with chips of three types of metals (usually gold, silver etc), paan (betel leaf), supari (betel nut), haldi (turmeric) and dry dates. The plant is watered every morning till the eighth day after the wedding and then transplanted elsewhere.

* Adarni: The third day before the lagan, is regarded as the day for gift exchanging. On this day the groom’s family visits the bride’s home to present her with all the gifts like clothes and jewelry. The ritual is known as Adarni. The bride herself may also go over to the groom’s home for this tradition but the groom cannot do the same. The relatives, neighbors and friends are treated to a traditional meal of sev and dahi, boiled eggs and bananas.

* Supra nu Murat: Supra nu Murat is close to the Hindu mehndi-haldi ceremony and is organized a day before the wedding. Carrying out the tradition, four married women are given a supra each, containing auspicious items like paan, supari, haldi, dates and a piece of coconut. While singing ritual songs, these supras are exchanged seven times among the women cross-wise, length-wise and breadth-wise. A fifth lady sits in the middle with khalbatto and dry turmeric. After the four women finish passing the supras, all five join hands to beat the turmeric along with some milk in the pestle and this paste is applied by all to the groom and bride along with a showering of blessings.

* Nahan: Before the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom go through the Nahan ritual. This is done for the purification of the body and soul wherein the family dastur symbolically bathes and purifies the man or woman. Tradition goes that after the Nahan ritual has been performed the bride and groom cannot touch any person outside the family or caste. The bride then dresses in her madhavate – the white, ornate wedding saree given by her parents, while the groom wears the traditional Parsi dagli and feta a white kurta like garment and a black cap.

Wedding Rituals:

Parsi lagan usually takes place either at a baug or at an agiary – the Fire Temple. The Zoroastrians consider the period immediately after sunset or very early in the mornings auspicious for marriage. Most weddings generally take place at about 6.40 p.m. On the day of the Parsi lagan, a chalk or rangoli patter adorns every staircase and doorway. Even the gates of the wedding venue or baug are decorated with large colorful designs.

* Achumichu: ThAt the wedding venue, a stage is set for the couple and before they step on it, the groom first, a ritual called achumichu is performed. Herein, the bride’s mother takes a tray with a raw egg, supari, rice, coconut, dates and water and begins the ceremony with her son-in-law to be. First, she takes the coconut and circles it around the groom’s head seven times before breaking it on the floor to his right. The same is done with every other item on the tray, except the water, which is thrown on either side. The bride then steps onto the stage for her future mother-in-law to perform the same ritual.

* Ara Antar: During the Ara Antar ceremony the couple is made to sit facing each other. However, a cloth is held between them, so they cannot see the other. Then, each of them is given rice. With a length of thread, the priests circle the couple on opposite sides of the curtain seven times and as the seventh round ends, the couple showers each other with the rice from over the curtain. It is believed that whoever throws the rice first will dominate the other partner!

* Chero Bandhvanu: At this point a ceremony called Chero Bandhvanu takes place. The couple sits besides each other with the seven strands of string binding them. The witnesses sit besides them and diyos or lighted lamps are placed on tables on either side. Priests begins an hour-long marriage prayers or aashirwaad and showering of rice and rose petals ceremony. At the end of the prayers the bride and groom exchange wedding rings. The priests now wish the couple the var and bairi. Fire from the agiary is brought to them to pay their respects.

* Haath Borvanu: Fun-filled ceremonies take place on the completion of the lagan. Groom’s sister-in-law begins extracting money from her new brother-in-law first haath borvanu. She makes the groom put his hand into a glass of water, which he cannot remove until he pays up. This if followed by pag dhovanu wherein the groom is threatened with milk on his shoes unless of course, he pays. Later, chero chorvanu ceremony takes place. Herein, the sister-in-law removes the seven strands of string binding the couple, again on payment. At the end of it all the newly wed couple pays a visit to the fire temple for blessings.

Post-Wedding Reception:

Parsi weddings are well known for their enormous receptions. Everyone enjoys as food, drink and music flows freely throughout the night. The traditional dinner is a lavish four-course meals comprising delicious Parsi bhonu like sarya (crisps), achaar – rotli (pickle and rotis), patra ni macchi (steamed fish), salli margi (chicken with potato crisps), lagan nu custard, pulao-dal and ice cream.

The wedding day finally ends with the couple being escorted home by the bride’s family and the achumichu being performed once again by the groom’s mother for the newly wed couple in togetherness.