Baniya /Agarwal wedding rituals
Popular by several names such as Baniya, Agrawal, Kayasth, Vaishya, and many others, this community comprises all money-minded persons like Bankers, businesspeople, moneylenders, traders and shopkeepers etc. Therefore it is quite obvious to witness grand and lavish celebrations during the Baniya wedding events.
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Composing a large section of the Indian population, Baniya weddings leave no stone unturned in dazzling the eyes of attendees with the extensive flow of cash, gifts, jewelry, expensive & flamboyant clothes and lip-smacking food items in a wide variety.
Though the Baniya community is dispersed in the diverse states of India and follows some unique traditions based on their region, many rituals are found common in this community. All of the main wedding-centric rituals are categorized among Pre-wedding, during the wedding and post-wedding rituals categories.
Let’s know in-depth about this extravagant celebration of all the Baniya wedding rituals.
Pre-wedding rituals in a Baniya Wedding Event
1. Matchmaking ritual –
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Like in other Hindu religious sects, the Baniya community follows the path of traditional matchmaking ritual at the beginning of the Wedding. The families of the boy and girl analyze their Kundali ( Horoscopes) with the help of an experienced priest. If the priest finds the couple compatible according to the information of Matchmaking, the families fix the wedding in a close or intimate meeting. After finalizing the wedding, the auspicious date of the marriage is also decided with the help of a competent priest. Now at the end, the families discuss the amount of expenditure they want to do for the wedding and the range of gifts that will be exchanged in various wedding ceremonies.
2. Rishta Pakka Karna –
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To solidify the marriage fixing and publically announce the wedding of children, both families conduct a small event at the home of either groom’s family or the bride’s family. They can also choose a different location like a temple, banquet hall or a Dharamshala. Here the bride’s family comes with a lot of gifts, sweets, fruits, dry fruits and clothes etc. They put a Tilak on the forehead of the groom and give some Cash as a token money to him. On the other hand, the groom’s family visits here with the precious items of a bride’s Suhaag like Mehendi, Churi, Kumkum and Bichiya etc. They give it to the bride and congratulate her on the impending wedding. Close relatives of both families also make a presence in this intimate function to bless the new couple. Many families also include the exchanging of Rings between the bride and groom at the end of this function.
3. Shaadi Ka Muhurat –
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Now when the wedding is finalized between two families and they have accepted each other along with the couple, it is time to decide the auspicious timing of the wedding which is called Muhurat of the wedding. The hired priest assesses the astrological readings and gives options regarding several auspicious timings and dates. The families pick anyone among them according to their wishes and convenience.
4. Bhaat Nyotana –
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This pre-wedding ritual is celebrated in both families. The families invite the maternal uncle and his entire family. The maternal uncle of the bride and groom visits their home respectively and brings a lot of expensive gifts, clothes, jewelry, sweets, fruits, dry fruits and cash. They offer it before the wedding day to the bride and groom and bless them for the best-married life ahead. The families of the bride and groom also give them a warm welcome in return for their valuable gesture.
5. Lagan Sagai –
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This ritual shows a very different way of Sagai in the Baniya community. All the male members of the bride’s close family visit the groom’s home and bring a range of the Groom’s trousseau like Suit, Sherwani, Coat, Juti, Kurta pajama, Shoes, Watch, Chain and Kumkum etc. They provide all of these objects to the groom with immense love and reverence. Those families who do not celebrate a ring exchange ceremony in the pre-wedding functions, also give a ring to the groom. This ring is a symbol of commitment between both families regarding the impending wedding. At the end when the bride’s family leaves, it invites the entire groom’s family to bring a Procession/Baraat for taking the bride away with them.
6. Haldi Ceremony –
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Very popular pre-wedding ritual of the Hindu religion, the Haldi ceremony takes place 2-3 days before D-day. The family prepares a Haldi ubtan for the bride/groom with so many ingredients like Turmeric powder, gram flour, Oil and Rose water etc. Now all the married women and men touch this paste on the forehead, knees, feet and shoulder in a series with the help of a thick bundle of grass dipping into it. Now after completing this auspicious ceremony all the family members rub some Haldi paste on their palms and apply it on the faces, hands, feet, and other visible parts of the body. This ritual is celebrated as a fun frolic pre-wedding event in both houses. It is believed that the Haldi paste enhances the wedding glow of the bride’s and groom’s faces. Once the Haldi ceremony concluded, the bride and groom can not go out of their homes as it is considered inauspicious for both of them.
7. Kangan Bandhna –
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Another unique pre-wedding ritual of a Baniya wedding is tying several auspicious threads which are called Kangan. The priest asks the bride/groom to perform a small ritualistic puja in the house temple or a designated place in the home. Now seven married women in the family tie seven sacred threads with knots on the wrist of the bride/groom. After this, in the bride’s home, the bride wears green bangles which are a remark of Suhaag. It is believed that the bride should wear these green bangles till her life as it brings prosperity in her wedded life. The Kangan or seven sacred threads of the bride and groom will be untied after the completion of the wedding ceremony in the groom’s home.
8. Mehendi Ceremony –
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The Mehendi ceremony is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the Baniya families. This ritual is celebrated in both homes. Usually, the mehendi given to the groom in the Lagan Sagai ritual is used in this event and then the remaining mehendi is sent to the bride’s home. Here all the women of the family are invited to draw a small and auspicious design on the palms of the bride and then the professional mehendi designer takes the ritual forward. He/she draws some most intricate mehendi designs on the palms, hands and feet of the bride. The same ritual is celebrated in the groom’s home where all the relatives touch the auspicious mehendi paste on the palms of the groom and then small patches with this paste are drawn on his palms. The Mehendi ceremony is a women-centric custom of the pre-wedding celebration.
9. Ladies Sangeet –
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A very traditional fun event of the wedding has been celebrated for a long time but now it has adopted a new way. Traditionally in the Ladies Sangeet event, the women folks gathered in the families of the Bride/Groom. First, the religiously dedicated songs are sung by the women on the beats of Dholak & Manjera and then folk wedding songs are enjoyed by the women. Ladies sing and dance to these folk songs and no man is allowed to interfere in it. The bride’s family sings folk songs by indicating her as a Banni and the groom’s family enjoys a similar ceremony by dedicating these songs to the Banna. Nowadays this event is organized in a common place for both families especially in the destination wedding concept. The traditional folk wedding songs are replaced with peppy Bollywood songs and well-choreographed dance moves.
10. Ghudchadhi & Baraat –
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After a long wait, D-day arrives and some main wedding-centric rituals take place usually in the groom’s home. However, they are recognized as a pre-wedding custom. The groom adorns himself with flamboyant wedding attire, a pearl necklace, shiny shoes and a captivating Sehera or Saafa on the head. Before mounting on the mare for the groom’s procession or Baraat, a small ritualistic puja takes place in the groom’s home. All the male members gather all together and the priest chants some sacred mantras. Now the family members place the Sehera on the groom’s head and give him a small sword to tuck on his waist. The well-decked groom now sits on the mare and all his entourage becomes ready to move forward as a Baraat.
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The groom’s procession or baraat is an expensive portrayal of the luxury wedding of the Baniya Community. Moving forward towards the wedding venue or the bride’s place with loud music, heavy lighting, singing, dancing and having great fun is the most happy ritual of the baniya wedding from the groom’s side. The great pomp and show of the Baraat of Baniya families catch the sight of people.
Rituals celebrated during the wedding in a Baniya Family
11. Swaagat –
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When all the Baratees (Groom’s family members) reach the wedding venue or the bride’s location, they receive a grand welcome from the Gharatees (Bride’s family members). They offer them beautiful garlands, sprinkle perfume or rosewater on them and ask them to enter the place with great reverence. Now the groom and his group are offered light snacks and refreshing drinks. After this, he moves forward to the main stage and takes a seat. The bride’s family put too much effort into pleasing the groom by welcoming him.
12. Jaimala –
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After welcoming the baraat and making them comfortable with sitting, soon the bride enhances the glow of ambiance with her beautiful entry. Her close friends and siblings escort her to the main stage where the groom waits for her. After stepping on the stage the bride stands in front of the groom. Both of them exchange the floral garlands and the family members shower petals of flowers on them as a blessing. It depicts the initial acceptance of the couple for each other in the wedding ceremony. Some families make this ritual fun frolic by lifting the bride/groom higher and making it difficult for them to put the garland on each other.
13. Kanyadaan ritual –
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A few moments later the Jaimala ceremony, the bride and groom head towards the wedding mandap. Here the very first ritual that takes place is an emotional ceremony called Kanyadaan. The groom’s mother is not allowed to see this ritual. The father of the bride puts her right hand on the groom’s hand and the bride’s mother pours the water on this hand union. In some baniya families, they place betel leaf, betel nut, coconut and rice also on the top of this hand union and pour milk or water through it. It is believed that this ritual shows,” a daughter’s father is handing over his girl child to the groom and ask him to take her responsibility for whole life.” Now the groom’s sister ties the knot with the bride’s chunri and the groom’s stole or dupatta.
14. Phere –
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Now the couple stands up and prepares themselves for the sacred phera ritual. The bride and groom take seven rounds of the holy fire and the priest chants auspicious nuptial mantras during their Phere. After every phera, the priest explains a marriage vow that conveys the responsibility of the married couple. This ritual also shows that they are accepting these responsibilities. Now after completing the phera ritual, the groom ties a Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride and fills Sindoor in her hair partition. The groom’s family members give some beautiful jewelry to the bride as a symbol of Married Woman’s jewelry.
Here all the main wedding-centric rituals come to an end and the matrimonial ceremony is considered concluded. But so many rituals are still pending in the Baniya community weddings from which we can learn a lot about their culture.
Post-Wedding Rituals of a Baniya Wedding Ceremony
15. Vidaai –
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At the end of the wedding, a teary-eyed bittersweet moment comes when the bride leaves her paternal home. This ritual takes a few hours before the morning and is called “Taaron Ki Chaon.” The bride throws plain and puffed rice behind her which shows her gratitude towards her parents. The family members sing the emotional songs of Vidai or Separation as their daughter is leaving them. Now the bride moves forward with her husband and begins a new phase of her life.
16. Bridal Welcome –
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After reaching her husband’s home the bride receives a heartwarming welcome from her mother-in-law. She prepares an Aarti ki Thali for the new bride and performs her aarti. Now the bride enters the home by pushing the pot filled with rice or wheat grains inside the home. The spreading of these rice or wheat grains depicts that prosperity and good luck are making their way into the new home of the bride with her entry. She enters the home by placing her right foot on the threshold of the main entrance. The beautiful welcome of the bride shows the love and acceptance towards her by her new family members. The new bride is symbolized as Goddess Lakshmi in the home.
17. Kangan Utaarna –
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Now it is the time to make the new bride feel comfortable in her in-law’s home. Several exciting games are played between the new couple which makes the love and respect denser between them. One of the most fun rituals occurs at the groom’s home after the bride’s arrival. They take part in the Kangan Utaarna ritual and try to untie the Kangan for each other. Whoever opens the knots the fastest is considered the dominating partner in the Baniya wedding. Another game is a ring that is dropped in a pot or open vessel which is full of milk and colored water mixture. The couple tries to find the ring fastest. During these fun rituals, some people cheer the bride while the rest encourage the groom to complete the task faster.
18. Mooh Dikhai –
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The family of groom organizes a small pooja for the newlywed couple and seeks blessings from their Kuldevta and Kuldevi. After this, a small event named Mooh Dikhai takes place in the home of the groom. All married women from the neighbors and relatives are invited to have a glimpse of the new bride after the wedding. The bride sits with a long Veil or Ghunghat on her face. All female folks slowly lift the veil and see the bride’s face. They also give her token money, gifts, jewelry and other valuable things.
19. Wedding Reception –
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The final wedding ritual in the Baniya families is the lavish reception party. The groom’s family arrange a big party for their guest including the bride’s family. It shows that the wedding has successfully concluded. Everyone enjoys the sumptuous feast and offers gifts to the newlywed couple.