The thing with Indian culture, if I may say so without raising eyebrows and opinions, is that there is really no such thing as Indian culture.
Yes! I am quite right. You see there is no such thing as a one universal Indian way of life. It is in fact, an amalgamation of various cultures of different regions, religions and people. Culture and customs depend on whether you are Punjabi or Bengali, North Indian or South Indian, Christian or Parsi. However, there is a common base that runs across them all and unites them to make them very Indian. Something like set squares in geometry. Remember, a circle within a circle and then two or more circles overlapping with each other. Before your head starts dizzying around in circles, let me just come to the point. India is gifted and blessed in being home to multi societies and yet in an amazing way never loses its way.
And there is nothing like a wedding that is a complete 360 degree view of an integration of a society and its cultures, heavily tossed with loads of noise and fun. It is like a salad preparation which has so many ingredients of love, family interactions, rituals, customs, social norms all thrown in with a dressing of pure fun and happiness. There are many wedding rituals of different communities and groups in India that bear testimony to what it means to retain originality in a country that is an epitome of multi-cultures.
The Parsi community, for instance, is a small community in size when compared to the other religious groups in India, yet they are a defined and well-known unit. Known and acknowledged for their jovial way of life, the Parsis are also renowned for their foresight, education, and entrepreneurship. Besides this, they are undoubtedly one of the most close-knit communities with a very definite social and religious structure.
As any other community, a wedding in the Parsis is a big deal. It is viewed as a sacred union of souls and one of the main tenants of the religion. A wedding is of course, full of frolic and gaiety, however, for the Parsis it is also a matter of following the traditions as prescribed by religion. This is in the most important way how Indians generally view weddings. For a marriage is just not about two people falling for each other and commencing a life together, it is also about a sacrosanct union of souls that needs benediction of the divine and a fulfillment of a proper code of conduct and course of life.
There are many rituals a Parsi wedding follows and these can be divided into pre-marriage, the marriage and post marriage traditions. Pre-wedding rituals include Rupiya Peravanu, Madavsaro, Adravanu, Adarni and so on. Let us talk in details about one such ritual called Madavsaro.
Carried out four days before the actual wedding, this ceremony takes place in both the groom’s and bride’s home. Both families plant a tree, mostly a mango plant in a pot at the entrance to their respective houses. This ceremony is a way to pray for fertility and happiness of the couple.
This is how it happens. The male of the house along with other married women are the ones that carry out this ceremony. The pot is placed on a rangoli design and on the wall beside it a square with a cross is drawn in haldi and kumkum paste. There are a number of things added in the soil of the mango plant and the pot is then placed in the design at the entrance amidst prayers from the priest. Betel nut, dried dates, gold silver flakes, curd, sugar, and milk are added to the soil and a coconut is circled seven times around the pot and then broken against the wall. There is a lot of chanting of prayers and burning incense around the plant. Everyone present prays for the future and happiness of the couple. The plant is watered for eight days after the wedding and then is transplanted to another location.
Madavsaro is then followed by Adravanu or engagement, Adarni which is a day before the lagan or wedding and Supra ni reet which is somewhat similar to the application of haldi or turmeric, another famous ritual across most religions and regions.
Finally, the pre-wedding rituals give way to the actual wedding ceremony followed by a gala reception which is famous for Parsi food and of course drinks!
A Parsi wedding though fraught with many traditional rituals, essentially has one main purpose to fulfill. It is all garnered towards good wishes and prayers for the couple and as all things Indian and Parsi, it is the thought that matters equally if not less than the manifestation of them through customs and traditions.
Well, all we can say is Mubarak!