Garhwali are the people belonging to Garhwal region in Uttarakhand. The region is surrounded by the hills and is full of greenery and pleasant weather. Other than scenic beauty, the place and the people of Garhwal are famous for their anti-dowry approach towards the weddings which is rare in India.
The wedding is generally arranged between the girl and the boy by the elders of the family. But this trend is fast changing and today’s youngsters prefer to do a love marriage or search for a suitable life partner on Indian matrimonial sites which is acceptable to their parents as well. Before fixing the marriage the custom of matching horoscope (janam kundli) of the prospective Garhwali bride and groom is prevalent in their culture. The family values and status should also match between the girl and the boy. After commitment between the families, engagement ceremony is celebrated in which the bride and the groom exchange rings and the relatives give them cash as the symbol of their blessings. The engagement generally takes place in the groom’s house where the food arrangement is made for the guests that includes bride’s family and her close relatives and groom’s family and his close relatives.
Before the marriage the Garhwali bride is presented with a beautiful nose ring known as nathni ceremony in which either bride’s parents or groom’s mother sends traditional nathni for the bride which she wears on the wedding day. The rituals are celebrated with lot of simplicity but with fun and vigor. The mehndi ceremony is celebrated the day before the wedding where the bride and groom along with their relatives apply henna on their hands and sing Garhwali wedding songs.
On the wedding day, the bride generally wears a lehenga with net gota work chunni over her head. The bride is adorned with jewelry and wears make-up on her face. The groom on the other hand can wear dhoti kurta, shervaani or formal suit for his wedding.
The weddings in India begin with the arrival of baraat where the groom is seated on a horse and other relative’s dances on the music played by the wedding band which moves along with the baraat. The wedding procession starts with a red flag which represents the bridegroom and is known as ‘nishaan’. The last man of the baraat carries white flag representing the bride. On arrival to the bride’s house, the groom and his relatives are welcomed by the bride’s family members by showering flowers on them. After the arrival the food is served and bride and groom sit together for lunch or dinner depending on at what time wedding takes place. After the food is served the bride and groom sit on mandap where the pundit recite chants and hymns and tell them about their duties after marriage. Then they both get up to take seven rounds around the fire as fire represents god. The groom then puts vermilion (red colour sindoor) in bride’s hair parting and puts a mangal sutra (sign for married women) around her neck.
The Garhwali wedding rituals are completed and bride and groom become a couple after taking pheras. The bride then leaves her parent’s home and leaves with the groom to his home in a doli. While returning the flag bearer bears a red colour flag and the last man carries white flag.