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Parsi Weddings

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A Parsi wedding ceremony. © Paurushasp JilaA cord is tied around the bride and groom's hands. © Paurushasp Jila
A Parsi wedding ceremony

Pre-wedding rituals
Parsi Wedding Madhavsaro is four days before the lagan, the families of the bride and groom each plant a young tree in a pot, amidst recitation of prayers by the family priest, and place this at the entrance of their homes. This is generally a mango plant and is treated as a symbol of fertility. The soil in which the tree is planted is mixed with chips of three types of metals (usually gold, silver etc), paan (betel leaf), supari (betel nut), haldi (turmeric) and dry dates. The plant is watered every morning till the eighth day after the wedding and then transplanted elsewhere.
The next day, which is the third day before the lagan, is a day for gift exchanging. On this day the groom's family visits the bride's home to present her with all the gifts like clothes, jewellery. This is known as Adarni. The bride herself may also go over to the groom's home for this tradition, the groom cannot do the same. The relatives, neighbours and friends are treated to a traditional meal of sev and dahi, boiled eggs and bananas.

Supra nu Murat
The day before the wedding is the Supra nu Murat, which is close to the Hindu mehndi-haldi ceremony. Four married women are given a supra each, containing paan, supari, haldi, dates and a piece of coconut. While singing ritual songs, these supras are exchanged seven times among the women cross-wise, length-wise and breadth-wise. A fifth lady sits in the middle with a khalbatto and dry turmeric. After the four women finish passing the supras, all five join hands to beat the turmeric along with some milk in the pestle and this paste is applied by all to the groom and bride along with a showering of blessings.

Wedding rituals

On the day of the lagan, chalk or rangoli is used more than usual and every staircase, doorway and even the gates of the wedding venue or baug are decorated with large colourful designs. The Zorastrians consider the period immediately after sunset or very early in the mornings auspicious for marriage. Most weddings generally take place at about 6.40 pm. The actual marriage ceremony, the bride and groom go through the Nahan ritual is the purification of the body and soul wherein the family dastur symbolically bathes and purifies the man or woman. After the Nahan ritual, the bride and groom cannot touch any person outside the family or caste. The bride then dresses in her madhavate the white, ornate wedding saree given by her parents, while the groom wears the traditional Parsi dagli and feta a white kurta like garment and a black cap.

Parsi Wedding The Parsi lagan takes place either at a baug or at an agiary (the fire temple). A stage is set for the couple and before they step on it, the groom first, a ritual called achumichu is performed. The bride's mother takes a tray with a raw egg, supari, rice, coconut, dates and water and begins the ceremony with her son-in-law to be. First, she takes the coconut and circles it around the groom's head seven times before breaking it on the floor to his right. The same is done with every other item on the tray, except the water, which is thrown on either side. The bride then steps onto the stage for her future mother-in-law to perform the same ritual.

Ara antar
Ara antar ceremony the couple is made to sit facing each other with a cloth held between them, so they cannot see the other. Each of them is given rice. With a length of thread, the priests circle the couple on opposite sides of the curtain seven times and as the seventh round ends, the couple showers each other with the rice from over the curtain. It is jestingly believed that whoever throws the rice first will dominate the other partner.

Chero bandhvanu
The couple now sits besides each other, chero bandhvanu a ceremony with the seven strands of string binding them. The witnesses besides them and diyos or lighted lamps kept on tables on either side. The marriage prayers or aashirwaad and showering of rice and rose petals by the priests begin. This takes about an hour, after which the bride and groom exchange wedding rings. The priests now wish the couple the var and bairi and fire from the agiary is brought to them to pay their respects.

Haath borvanu
Once the couple is officially married, now starts the fun and frolic. The groom's sister-in-law begins extracting money from her new brother-in-law first haath borvanu, he is made to put his hand into a glass of water which he cannot remove until he pays up; then pag dhovanu, the groom is threatened with milk on his shoes unless he pays; and chero chorvanu, wherein the seven strands of string binding the couple are removed by the sister-in-law again on payment. The couple then pays a visit to the fire temple.



Post-wedding rituals


The Reception
Parsi weddings are renowned for their enormous receptions. With food, drink and music flowing freely throughout the night, the party goes on and on. The traditional dinner sittings with lavish four-course meals comprising delicious Parsi bhonu like sarya (crisps), achaar - rotli (pickle and rotis), patra ni macchi (steamed fish), salli margi (chicken with potato crisps), lagan nu custard, pulao-dal and ice cream. The wedding day finally ends with the couple being escorted home by the bride's family and the achumichu being performed once again by the groom's mother for the couple together.

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