Friday, March 24, 2023
Himachal Pradesh

Himachal People

Customs and Traditions

Rituals connected with Marriage

There are many rituals associated with the coming of a new bride into the family. The bride first performs the puja to the deities of her new family under the guidance of the older Gaddi Customswomen and is then made to distribute sweets (Gune) in front of the Dehre which is a traditional wall painting done as a religious ritual after marriage.

The bride distributes the Gune with both hands. The groom is the first to get these and gives his bride, money or jewellery in return. Ritual songs are sung at this time by women sitting around the bride. Munh Dikhai is a custom which reveals the face of the bride. The mother-in-law comes first who presents the bride with jewellery and sees her face and then follows the uncles wives, sister-in-law etc. Each one of them presents the bride with money or pieces of jewellery.

Pair Bandai (touching the feet) is another custom which helps introduce the bride to husband's family. In this, the bride first offers the close relatives a gift of money and then covering her hands with the edge of her sari, touches their feet. She is then blessed by the elders to be well-loved of her husband and produce sons.

Darosh Dab Dhab, Dam-Chalshish, Dual or Har, Batta-Satta, Jhajhara, Gadar, Mool Biah, Jhindphook and Yuth Vivah are some other interesting forms of marriage prevalent in the area. Darosh Dab Dhab is a tribal system prevalent in Kinnaur. In this the girl is forcibly dragged away from a fair ground or a festival meeting. She pretends to scream, scratch, bite and show annoyance but the boy holding her does not relent his hold. At night the village tries to bring the girl round and if she agrees then the next day a match-maker goes to her family with a gift of five rupees and a bottle of wine (ijit) and tries to get their permission. Similar gifts are presented to the village deities.

In Dam-Chalshish, the lovers elope together and the boy's father sends the Mazomi to the girl's house and tries to placate them and their relatives with gifts. If the family agrees, then a ritual marriage follows. In Jhindphook, the lovers go to a lonely spot and set some shrubs on fire and then go round the fire seven times. This makes them husband and wife. In the Chalshish system as the girl departs from her home sad tunes are played and the son-in-law presents the mother of the daughter with a sum of five hundred rupees as Masore or the price of her milk.

Hari or Har means that a woman who is dissatisfied with her husband, goes and begins to live with another. Her new husband has to settle it with the previous one by offering him a price acceptable to him. Such marriages are known as Jhanjhara or Jhanhrada. The new husband also invites all his relatives and at night offers a special puja known as Nuala to lord Shiva. When the priest or the Chela gives him the lords blessings he in turn, puts his Balu (a piece of jewellery) on the Woman and this makes her his lawful wife. The Gaddis follow this custom more than the others.

The Gaddis and some labourer families follows the Batta-Satta system of marriage in which the bride's brother has to marry the groom's sister or vice versa. If one of the girls refuses to go to her husband, the other one also will stay back. In case of complications, the village assembly of Pachi (Panchayat) is called. They listen to arguments from both sides and give their verdict in writing, copies of which are preserved by both sides.

The Gaddis perform the marriage ceremony twice. First comes the Jooth Pana when the groom's party goes to the girl's house (who is usually a minor of 8-10 years) and breaks a lump of jaggery in the girl's name and the girls family smears them with red colour. On their way back, the groom's party distributes lumps of jaggery to all the passer by thus announcing the confirming of the betrothal. Then the real marriage ceremony follows, in which the woman from the girls family help her through the rituals. There is no system of dowry. After five or ten years comes the second half known as Sadnoj. By now the girl is mature. On a fixed day the groom in ritual finery, goes to his wife's house with a few relatives and after staying there for a couple of days, departs with his bride for his own village. At this time gifts are presented and dances and celebrations begin in the groom's house to welcome the party.

In Pangi, at the time of the marriage the grooms younger brother presents the bride's mother with a silver rupee. This gives him the right of a second husband over the bride, but the bride is not to be shared by more than two brothers. The people in Pangi are monogamous and a widow may remarry, but such marriages are not held in high esteem.