Marriage is an important ceremony in Himachal. The parents are also the
closer elders relatives begin to look around for suitable matches as soon
as the child is old enough. Sometimes a middleman is used as a match-maker
known as Roovary, Dhamu or Mazomi. He finds out the details about the
social and financial standing of the family and the final decision is
taken on the basis of the horoscopes. Matches in the same Gotra are not
considered very good. When the match is settled the ritual gift called
Tika is sent. The groom and his family are invited to tea. On this occasion
ritual songs are sung and sweets are distributed. In the tribal areas
both the parties exchange Chhang (rice wine) and close relatives are invited
to participate in the ceremony. In some areas during the various festivals,
gifts of jewellery and clothes are sent to the betrothed. In Kinnaur this
system is known as Chharmi Nata, elsewhere it is known as sending the
date for the wedding is set in consultation with the priest. In some places
the permission of the deities is also sought. Customarily all the preparations
for the wedding are to be kept a secret from the bride. In Kinnaur as
the wedding party approaches the house, the bride and her friends begin
to wail and weep.
Marriage customs differ from place to place in Himachal.
The bride and the groom are carried in palanquins except in the Lahaul
area. The girl touches her father's feet at the time of her departure.
People in Kinnaur follow a matriarchal system where all the brothers share
a wife and if there are more than six brothers then another may be brought
in. All the brothers are looked upon as common fathers to the children.
The eldest is known as Teg Bawal and the youngest as Gota Bawal.
A maid (barber's wife or Pachekan) accompanies the bride
temporarily from her father's house to help her settle down in the midst
of her new family. In Lahaul when the groom departs with the bride the
girl friends of the bride block his path till the groom promises them
that he will take good care of their dear friend.
The day the bride enters the new household, a special
Havan is performed under the guidance of the family priest. The bride
and the groom cook kheer (rice pudding) and it is served to all the assembled
relatives who bless them. At the time of Feroni (the ritual return
of the bride after her first visit from her father's house-also known
as Dwiragaman) the bride and groom are welcomed with great joy
and fed sweets and butter.