Thursday, February 2, 2023

The People

▪ Introduction ▪ Saddo Ceremony ▪ Hair Cutting Ritual ▪ Beggar's Lunch
▪ Wedding Ceremony ▪ Family organisation ▪ Bangle Wearing Ceremony

Wedding Ceremony

Wedding in Goa do not take place on Thursdays and Fridays in the normal course. On the wedding day, the groom's sister and another close relative go with the brides dress and assorted materials and dress her up at her residence. The wedding ceremony of Goa is same as all over the world. There will be a wedding dance function in the hall. After the dance function is over, the whole group or part of it that remains to the end. The groom's side cross over a line of demarcation, imaginary but conventionally drawn called 'shim' (literally, boundary line in Konkani), the brides guests remaining on the hither side of the boundary. The boundary being normally the place where the roads going towards the residence of the parties, part from each other in a fork. Here a prayer is said and wishes expressed for the prosperity and happiness of the married couple. Some liquor from a bottle brought by the grooms or bride's people, is taken in little cupfuls by those present and without crossing the boundary line.

At this time of pouring the liquor the shim should not be crossed, until this brief ritual is over. Later one or two relatives from the bride's side come and cross the 'shim', to formally invite the bridal couple to the bride's place which in Konkani is called 'Apovnnem' (invitation) for the return of the couple on the next day for what is known as the  Portovnnem (ceremonial return). This practice of pouring the liquor and observing the shim is being given up now. 

Among the Hindus, at both houses the priest is called and he performs the 'punnyavaham' and 'nandhishradha' readings in the presence of the groom/bride and their parents. Then oil and turmeric is applied after which they take bath from a barrel of water placed there for the purpose. Married women with husbands living (sovashnni) go with oil and turmeric from bride to groom and from groom to bride. The wedding ritual is held at the bride's place where the maternal uncle takes the lead in the ceremonies. At the groom's place, the groom's married sister ties the wedding turban called the bashing.

Then the marriage procession sets out, with the sister of the groom carrying with herself, a pot with leaves of mango on which  is placed a coconut. Another sister carries a wicker basket with a lighted lamp. They are followed by the groom in his full regalia. He is received at the bride's place ceremonially and led into the marriage chamber where the religious ceremony is performed by the priest. 

Among the Christians, the day following that of the wedding, at the groom's place there is a brief  ceremony of wearing the bangles at the home by the bangle-vendor of the village. They are put on the wrist of the bride. The vendor is later given a coconut, a measure of rice and payment in cash for his services.

At the groom's place, in the morning following the wedding day, a session of ceremonial blessing in kind is held. In that session, close relatives, from the mother-in-law of the bride on wards give presents normally in the form of gold ornaments to her. This was being done earlier, to the accompaniment of songs, verses and prayers. 

Later around lunch, the bride and groom with a small retinue of close relatives go to the brides place. They are received at the bride's place and there may be a dance or simply a litany (ladin) in thanks giving and a small get together and service of drinks and food. 

At the bride's place in Goa, at this time there is also the 'folle-fevonn' a sumptuous luncheon for close relatives. After this luncheon, the bride and groom among the upper class, used to go, sitting in a machila (palanquin) led by boias (bearers) along with a red coloured rush-mat or floor-mat with a 'vojem', a parcel of sweet meats, bananas etc. to accompany them to the groom's place of residence.

Among the Sudras, on the day following the wedding day, a group of masked friends from the groom's side comes to the bride's place along with their retinue. They sing songs and wash the feet of the bridal couple who tip them liberally. A ceremony called 'Tollvar' sitting was held consisting of kurponn (mat of bamboo placed on the pot of rice while draining water from it) and turbaned men would approach the married couple with salt and chillies and say some incantations so as to take away the evil eye from the couple. After this they went through the movements of shaving the bride groom. There was another Tollvar sitting at the bride's place at the time of the return of the bride to her place in the Portovnnem (ceremonial return). 

Among the Hindus, after the bride becomes a part of the grooms household by virtue of her marriage to him, a ceremony is held to welcome her into the fold of his (husband's) gotra, in a ritual called Gotraint haddop.

The bride has to show a lit lamp before eight people, all from the groom's side. She has also to offer them ghee, bananas and snacks. Before leaving for the groom's place, five couples along with the bride and the groom are seated and rice is thrown on them in a ceremony called 'Sensorbhorp'. 

Among the Christians, all the elders of the house gave ornaments or cash as presents to the new son-in-law. The girl would be given things necessary to set up her new household like mattresses, pillows etc. After the marriage ceremony is over, the groom with his bride has to sit on the mattress and get himself acquainted with all the elders of his in- laws. The bride's handicrafts, trousseau, jewel box etc. would then be displayed for all to see and then sent to her in-laws. 

After the ghar-pravesh (entry of the bride to the groom's house) there used to be a programme of giving a fresh name to the new bride. The groom had to write the proposed name for the bride by his own fingers in the rice grains from a stand proffered to him. Such a practice is on the wane now.