Kangra- The Marriage Ceremonies
If marriages are settled in heaven and solemnized on earth, then the people of Kangra are the superb solemnize-rs.
This is reflected in their marriage songs, a rich legacy rooted in the ancient Vedic, Puranic and Santana traditions.
Not long ago, the marriage ceremonies used to last for four or six days.
These marriages happened to be the occasions of festivity and merriment with the marriage ceremonies dominating over the merriment.
Songs at the time of washing the feet of the groom
The New Changes
The dowry system was not a dominant factor in the marriages of Kangra. It has now become a new irritant.
The disparity between the rich and the poor was irrelevant in social behavior.
But the factors like the rise in population, economic hardships, influences of westernization, decay in moral values and decreasing faith in the sanctity of religion have affected the wedding festivities.
Marrying two sons or two daughters on the same day is still prevalent.
The marriage time has also been reduced from to two days but there is no reduction in expenditure.
The ceremony of putting oil in the hair of bride before makeup
The songs of bathing the bride for marriage ceremony
The songs when the groom gets ready for marriage
The songs of hair plaiting of bride
The Wedding Songs
The wedding songs impart sanctity to the marriage ceremonies. These songs are influenced by the Ramayana and the Mahabharata epics. There are different songs for different ceremonies like applying of turmeric paste on the body of bridegroom by the sister-in- law, invocation of the deities at the Havana or the sacrificial fire, sitting under the Mandapa or the wedding canopy, the departure of Barat or the marriage party with bride, and so many other ceremonies which help bring two families together.
The bridegroom is considered the incarnation of Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, and Krishna, while the bride becomes Luxmi, Pārbati, Sita and Radha respectively.
The role of family priest or Kula Purohit is very important. He is considered a family member, guide, guru, and philosopher. When the girl gets engaged to a boy, she asks the priest to see for herself the suitability of the boy in the following words,
“Dekhi aayan mahareya padhia pundit Ji,
Bapuen keho jeha var toleya ve”.
“Oh my learned Brahmin, go and see,
What groom, the father has found for me”.
To the priest, the girl is like his own daughter. He calls jokes and replies,
“Gala panda rundan di mala, jattan dekhi dar aaya,
Hathan lenda jholi chimta, ghar ghar alakh jaganda”.
“Wearing skull garlands his long locks terrifies,
Holds alms-bag and fire tongs, he begs from door to door”.
The image here is that of Lord Shiva, but the girl does not understand this equivocation and complains to her mother. The mother tells her to keep his husband under control and says,
“Chup kar ni chup kar, dhiye ghar jaai samjhayan,
Samjhega tan samjhayean, ni tan chhatiya kane chatkayean”.
“Keep silent daughter; make him understand at his home,
If he understands then okay, otherwise thrash him with a stick”.
The Songs at the time of writing of marriage schedule by the priest
The Songs of Departure and Arrival
When the marriage party is ready to depart to the house of the bride, the sisters of the groom are the happiest beings on earth.
Their brother would soon bring them a lovely sister-in-law.
The sisters and other women folk sing Ghoris or the songs in praise of the bridegroom.
These songs eulogize and his chivalry, personality, and valor.
“Ae ghori mere veer di, Vrindavan the aai,
Mull lei mere babe ne, Gokul baji badhai,
Laal ghori veer tur chaliya, apni chaturai,
Janda ta bhena ghereya, re de ja badhai”.
“The mare of my brother came from Vrindavan,
Bought by my mother, the Gokul celebrates it,
Brother going in red mare looks elegant,
The sisters surround and ask him for gifts”.
The mare from Vrindavan, the abode of Lord Krishna, signifies the sanctity of marriage. The groom here becomes the incarnation of Lord Krishna.
The stage now shifts to the house of the bride. The people welcome the marriage party, and the women sing the songs seeking the bona fides of the guests in a lighter vein.
“Kuthu the aae babul parohne,
Bahar kuthu the aai janet”.
“Where from came, O father the guests,
Outside where from came the marriage party”.
Songs at the House of the Bride
Before the bridegroom reaches the courtyard of the house, the women sing the sing the songs representing the feelings of the would-be couple.
“Bahar aayan meri shayam sundari,
Kahna lagna jo aaya ve,
Mein kihan awan mere Krishanji,
Bapu ji the sharam aundi ve,
Bapu tere daan karde,
Hath garri chulian bharde,
Lagan bela Jaundi ve”.
"Come out my black beauty,
Krishna, for rites has come,
"How could I come my Krishna,
From father, I feel shy".
“Your father is bestowing you,
With coconut and water in handful,
Auspicious time for rites is flying”.
Thereafter the marriage ceremonies take place. Now she is no more her father’s darling daughter, but women of another man also.
“Bapu ji vedi par bolde totay,
Bapu sadi jogian di pheri,
Main hun nahi teri”.
“Father, on wedding canopy the parrots speak,
Father, ours will be yogi like revisits,
I am not yours now”.
Songs to welcome the palanquin of bride
The Farewell Songs
The farewell is the climax in the entire wedding process. Before the departure, the parents of the bride worship the bridegroom as a lord Vishnu. The mother gives her daughter the last feed from her bosom, which signifies the beginning of the end of her girlhood.
The mother of the bride pleads with the father-in-law of her daughter to ignore her shortcomings while performing the household chores.
“Tu sunnaya kurma, aaj bandi di sunnaya ji,
The sadi beti kam ni jaane, andar bahi samjhaeyo ji”.
“Listen, you brother-in-law, today listen to a woman plea,
Our daughter is naïve in chores, teach her within the house”.
The departure song is the saddest one which moves the heart of everyone present at the scene.
Her every step, her every thought and even her palanquin in which she is being carried to her new home, seem not to budge an inch ahead.
“Tere mahalan de andar ve,
Bapuji mere dola adeya".
"Teri doli dinga chhudai ve,
Dhiye ghar ja aapne”.
Within your palace passage,
The palanquin has got stuck".
Will release the palanquin,
O daughter, go to your home".
The women put a little rice in the plate of the bride to take her into their family fold
The last Ceremony
In the end, there is a ceremony of taking the bride into the family fold or the gorta. Here the women of entire village assemble and put a little rice into the plate of the bride. This symbolic rite declares the end of all the marriage ceremonies. The song for the occasion is,
"Tu sade gota rali ja, hun main deia batea,
Tu sada khana khai le, hun main deia batea,
Tu sade kapray lai le, hun main deia batea,
Tu sade anganay bahi ja, hun main deia batea,
Tu sade ghare basi ja, hun main deia batea".
You mix into our creed, now the mother's daughter,
You eat our food, now the mother's daughter,
You wear our clothes, now the mother's daughter,
You sit in our courtyard, now the mother's daughter,
You settle in our house, now the mother's daughter",
There are many other songs are faithfully sung on each ceremony. No ceremony is complete without a song.
The Bhadua or the merriment by women after the marriage party departs at the house of groom and the Jhamakra or the songs of fun and frolic before the marriage party leaves for the house of bride carry great significance in the marriage traditions of Kangra. They are attuned to the folklore psyche and reflect the grass-roots social behavior of a rich culture.