Traditional Oriya Weddings
Weddings are one of the most diverse experiences that humans have ever created. Every country and culture has a different way of celebrating the unification of two souls and families. Some traditions and customs are not so well known, like the traditional Oriya Hindu weddings. The Oriya people avoid ostentatious displays of wealth and status, opting instead to focus on traditions and cultural practices during weddings, which they call Bahaghara.
In Oriya culture, most families prefer arranged marriages for their children, although there are times where this is not the case. Typically, families will meet with a local matchmaker to find a match within their community. When a potential match is found, a horoscope matching will be done to see if the pair is compatible and could be considered a satisfactory match. If they are satisfactory, the two families will meet, and if all goes well, they will set a date for a formal engagement ceremony known as Nirbandh.
After this ceremony, the exchange of multiple invitations occurs between the families and is called Jayee Anukolo and is what marks the beginning of the wedding ceremony. After this is completed the couple will undergo that is the Oriya equivalent of Haldi. During this ritual, Tumeric will be made into a paste and applied to the couple’s hands and feet by seven married women, one of which must be the sister-in-law, and are then bathed in holy water. Afterward, the ceremony known as Jairagodo Anukolo will be performed. This is where a holy flame is lit in the form of an oil or ghee lamp, or in the form of a havan. This flame will be kept lit during the entirety of the ceremony.
During the days these traditions are carried out, multiple prayers and worships (pujas), will occur to bless the couple individually and together in the hopes of them having a long and happy marriage. The main ones are known as Diya Mangula Puja and Nandimukha.
The wedding ceremony itself will happen during the evening, a common practice for the Oriya. On the day of the ceremony, the groom and several members of his family will be escorted by a vehicle sent by the bride’s family to the wedding venue. When they arrive, a traditional arti will be performed by either the mother-in-law or a senior female member of the family. Once it is complete, the groom and his group will be welcomed inside and the bride will be informed of his arrival so she can be taken for a ceremonial bath.
The beginning of their ceremony is marked by a ritual known as Kanyadaan. The groom will arrive a the wedding stage, and then the bride after. The father of the bride will give her away while requesting that the groom takes good care of his daughter, urging the groom to treat her with love and respect.
Once the groom has pledged to honor the father’s request, the bride’s right hand is placed into the groom’s, and mango leaves, which are considered holy in Hindu religious rites will be placed over the top of them. This marks the bride’s transition from daughter to wife and daughter-in-law. A ritualistic fire will be lit and the couple will make seven rounds (symbolizes the seven sacred promises of marriage) of the fire while holding hands.
After the two beginning rituals, several more will occur. These ceremonies mark the beginning of the bride and groom’s life together as a couple, appease their gods in the hopes of being blessed, and remind the couple of their duties towards one another. The ceremony will be completed by the bride and groom leaving the wedding stage to go outside and view the Pole Star. After viewing the Pole Star, the groom will sprinkle vermillion powder on to the bride’s parted hair and slip conch shell bangles onto her hands.
Once the wedding ceremony is complete, the couple will partake in multiple post-wedding rituals. The rituals start with a game known as Kaduri Khela, which is played to help the bride and groom relax. During the days following the wedding ceremony, the groom will be invited over by his mother-in-law for a meal, the bride will prepare to leave her home while her mother sings traditional songs, and she will be greeted at her husband’s home by her mother-in-law.
On the fourth day after the wedding ceremony, a puja will be performed at the groom’s home. A coconut will be roasted and the couple’s room will be decorated with flowers and an oil lamp placed beside the bed. The couple will be fed with the coconut before the groom goes to their room. His bride will follow him with a glass of saffron-infused milk known as kesara dudha.
On the eighth day after the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom visit the bride’s parental home, where they are welcomed with a grand feast. They will spend the night at the parental home and this will mark the end of all wedding traditions.
To learn more about the Oriya wedding traditions, or to learn of other Indian wedding traditions, read here. Scroll down to view more photos of the traditional ceremony.
Special thanks to Chittaranjan Sahu & Anita Sahoo for photos from their wedding, which took place on March 9, 2020 (fourth day March 12, 2020), in India, Odisha, Jajpur, Bhubaneswar.
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