A lavish affair with a memorable blend of extravagance, fun, and traditions, Sindhi weddings reflect the ‘Live life King Size’ mindset that Sindhis are affectionately known for! While culturally and visually their celebrations seem quite similar to other North Indian weddings such as Punjabi, Marwari, and others, their festivities include plenty of small and big customs, each with a deep meaning that sets them apart.
This wedding tradition series is aimed at answering all your questions about important Sindhi Wedding ceremonies and the meaning behind them, and also, unique aspects of the experience to embrace.
Welcome to the colorful traditions and grandeur of Sindhi weddings!
Marking the first meeting between the bride and groom’s families after their match is fixed, the Kachhi Misri ceremony is the informal engagement akin to a Roka where the bride’s family gifts clothes, sweets, fruits, coconut, and lumps of misri (sugar crystals) for good luck. Most importantly, the auspicious ‘Kada Prasad’ is made by the mother of the bride and sent to the groom’s family in a silver dish.
Generally held a week before the wedding, the Pakki Misri ceremony is the formal engagement of the couple. An abundance of lavish gifts from the bride’s side is sent to the groom’s house including fruit baskets, gift hampers, gold, clothing, sweet platters, and token money to solidify the match. The groom’s family sends the bride some gifts as well, such as clothing or jewellery. The bride’s family sends a customary ‘dupatta ki saree’ that the priest places on the groom’s head for the ritual, meant to be worn by the bride after the wedding.
A prayer meet is held whereby the entire family prays to the almighty ‘Jhulelal’ to bless the couple in their upcoming wedding and marriage. The music is a mix of Jhulelal songs and popular Sindhi ladas, generally performed live by a professional group. Ladas are traditional songs that are sung through the wedding functions across numerous days.
Mehendi ceremony is generally held 2-3 days before the wedding by the bride’s side. The family gathers around the bride in a fun-filled ceremony where her hands and feet are covered in beautiful henna designs. The groom’s sister dresses the bride with beautiful floral jewelry, and she is showered with petals. The other ladies of the family also get their henna done.
Again held 2-3 days before the wedding, the Engagement ceremony or Sangeet is an exciting night of dance and performances where both families take part and enjoy in the revelry. The couple exchanges rings in the presence of their loved ones.
DEV BITHANA OR GANESH STHAPNA
A stone grinder is installed at both the bride and groom’s homes as an idol by the priest, and a pooja is conducted. This is generally done a night before the wedding.
HEAD BUKKI AND SANTH
These rituals are performed after the pooja. The head bukki is a ritual akin to the Haldi function for the bride, in which seven married ladies of the family apply oil to the bride’s hair and smear her with turmeric paste to give her a bridal glow.
For the groom, in a unique ritual called Saanth, he is doused with oil by the married ladies, after which his clothes are torn away by his family to symbolize him leaving behind his single life to get married.
NAVGRAHI POOJA & GHARI POOJA
The Navgrahi Pooja is performed either the night before or in the morning of the wedding, wherein various Hindu gods along with the 9 planets are worshipped. They are invited into the house as guests by offering them food, water and light, which is done to appease all cosmic and mythical deities to remove any obstacles in way of the auspicious day.
The Ghari Puja is performed at both the bride and the groom’s homes. The priest hands wheat grains to the couple, which is ground to flour by the married women of the house as a symbol of prosperity for the household. The bride and groom then smash an earthen lamp with their feet in their respective homes.
Again, this takes place in the morning of the wedding. The priest evokes the ancestral blessings of both families for the happiness and success of the new marriage. A sacred red thread is tied to the wrist of both the bride and the groom.
The groom leaves for the wedding venue with his energetic entourage of friends and family. Dressed in finery, they sing and dance with great enthusiasm the entire way.
After the bride dresses up in her wedding ensemble, her sisters or female relatives escort the groom to the bride’s house. At the entrance, the groom places his right foot on the top of the bride’s foot, signifying that he should be the dominating strength in their life together. After the groom enters the house, the bride’s parents rinse his feet with milk and water. It is believed that due to all the prayers that have preceded this moment, the groom is an embodiment of Lord Vishnu on this wedding day.
The bride and groom exchange beautiful garlands of flowers called Jaimala.
The bride’s dupatta is tied with the groom’s dupatta by his sister. She makes two knots connecting the dupattas while tying a few grains of rice within the knots.
The bride and groom’s right hands are tied softly together with a red fabric signifying their union, as they offer prayers to God together. The couple walks around the holy fire four times as the priest recites Vedic chants. The groom leads for the first three, while the bride leads for the fourth. The four circles signify the four pillars of human life that are dharma, artha, kama, moksha. With this ritual, the couple is bound together in love and matrimony for the rest of their lives.
A ritual common to all Indian weddings and most others around the world, the Kanyadaan is the ‘giving away ceremony’, wherein the father of the bride officially gives his daughter to the groom, asking him to love, respect and care for her for the rest of their lives. He gently places a red saree over the bride’s head as chants are recited, and then he gives her a ring.
The bride is asked to take seven steps, stepping over seven small piles of rice that symbolize the hardships that the couple might face in life. The groom holds her and helps her signifying them staying together through thick and thin while overcoming every hurdle.
The bride bids adieu to her family and parental home with a tearful goodbye. She is given parting gifts by her father before leaving with her husband for her new home.
The bride is received with a heartfelt welcome by her in-laws in her new home. Her feet are washed as she enters, and then she sprinkles milk in all directions of the home.
For this ritual, the bride passes a handful of salt to her husband, who passes it back to her without spilling it. This to and fro is performed three times.
The next day, the priest performs pooja and removes the stone grinder idol that he had installed before the wedding, after which the groom’s mother feeds the couple seven mouthfuls of milk, rice, and sugar.
The couple visits the bride’s home at an auspicious time determined by the priest. They received a lavish welcome where they are treated to a feast and showered with gifts.
The bride is informally introduced to the groom’s relatives. This is either followed or directly replaced by a formal reception with a sumptuous Sindhi feast.
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