Sikh kingdoms of Patiala and Kapurthala had a number of rituals as part of the pre-wedding and wedding ceremony which were performed with much aplomb and regal splendour.
Roka means ‘to stop’. In this context, to stop the search for a partner as the perfect match has been found.
Taka, to ‘set the date’,is where a date for the wedding is fixed and preparations are made for an engagement ceremony.
A formal engagement ceremony is held at the groom’s place or gurudwara. The groom presents the engagement ring and the bride’s family members offer a kara (steel bangle) to him. A priest says a short prayer after which a red scarf is placed around the groom’s shoulder along with dried dates. The grandfather feeds the fruit to the groom, after which everyone has food and drinks.
The mother of the groom covers the bride’s head with a chunnior red scarf which means that she is responsible for upholding the honour and pride of her family. The bride is dressed in clothing and jewellery brought by her in-laws. The groom marks sindoor (red powder) on her hair parting as a sign of commitment. His parents offer shagun (sweets) to the bride and her family as blessings and acceptance of the engagement. Gifts are exchanged in a lavish party to celebrate.
Performed by both families at their respective homesfor five days before the wedding, it is a series of rituals as part of a cleansing and purifying process.The bride and groom have the same ritual to follow – have oil massaged into their hair with olive branches and turmeric powder applied to their hands and legs. Girls performing maiya have a red string tied around their wrists. A red scarf is held above the bride or groom’s head. The girls take turns to holdeach corner of the scarf and traditional songs are sung.
Savories and sweets are cooked in a large dish (karahi) for five days, till D-day, and offered to guests.
Gifts are exchanged at the homes of the bride and groom. Some families opt tohave a priest perform a small pooja before the gifts are exchanged.
This ceremony is performed a day or two before the wedding when the bride and groom have mehendi (henna) applied on their hands and feet. Traditional songs are sung. Mehendi is supposed to symbolize the love of a couple - darker the colour, stronger the love.
The bride’s uncle gives her 21 bangles in red and cream colours which she bathes in curd milk and rosewaterat her maternal home. After the bangles are put on, the uncle covers it with a shawl (subar) which represents breaking away from one’s own family. Kalira (silver and gold hanging ornaments) is tied on the bangles by everyone blessing the bride. She touches the head of one of her female friends with the kalira and it is believed that she will get married next.
Immediate family members of the groom put a sehra (a heavy embroidered veil) on the groom’s head and tie it tohis turban.
The father of the groom ties a turban for him indicating that his son has become responsible to support a family. Kohl is applied ad a feather plume put on the turban by sisters. In a gesture of fun, he is allowed to leave for the wedding only after gifting his sisters.
The horse is fed nuts and the groom mounts it to go to the venue amid traditional music and danceby family and guests.
The bride’s family welcomes the groom with traditional songs and hymns. After introductions, the most senior family member is greeted with garlands. Breakfast is served before the ceremony.
Kirtans are sung. The bride is escorted by her brothers and uncle.The groom sits in front of the holy book ‘Guru Granth Sahib’.
Laavan are four prayers that seal the marriage. During this ceremony, the groom is given one end of the scarf on his shoulder and the other end is held by the bride. Flowersare showered on the couple. The ceremony ends with a prayer and distribution of prasad.
Family members and guests bless the couple with gifts or money.
Food and drink is served with lots of entertainment.
The bride is served her first meal as a married woman. The meal is safeguarded with a crimson shawl and later shared with her husband.
The bride sits in a palanquin which is lifted by four people as she is escorted to a car to leave for her new home.
Baroda royal wedding rituals
A barat leaves for the engagement ceremony. The Gaekwad tradition includes presenting a sugar candy to the bride in a silver box after which the bridegroom's father will ask for the hand of the bride for his son. This is the Wannischay.
A puja of the bridegroom, simantpujan, is performed followed by a puja of the bride and the bridegroom, called patrika puja. The teeka ceremony comes next where the bridegroom's father will apply kumkum with a gold coin on the bride's head.
People from the bridegroom's party put turmeric (haldi) on the bride and the bride's family members do the same for the bridegroom. Various rituals like the
madhupadka puja, saptapadi, lajahawan and mangalaastaka are also held.
The newly-weds are brought to the palace in a horse carriage as part of a procession, in time for the gruhpravesh, the auspicious time to enter the groom’s household.
Wedding rituals of Jodhpur state
The wedding festivities began with the Tilak ceremony in the Rajput kingdoms. Here the bride's brother applied the tilak to the groom's forehead followed by gifts such as sword, ornate clothes and sweets, fruits etc from the bride’s family to the groom, marking the engagement official
Few days before the actual marriage, the Ganapati Sthapana and Griha Shanti ceremony takes place where the groom or bride's parents to please the gods perform a Havan and an idol of Lord Ganesh is placed.
Under Pithi Dastoor Ceremony which takes place at both the bride and the groom's residences where turmeric and sandal wood paste is applied on to be bride and groom. The ceremony takes place on a grander scale at the bride’s palce.
The bride is made to come under a silken, decorated canopy that is held with the help of swords at the four corners by four ladies. Dholans (women singers with dholak), sing auspicious pre-wedding songs while the ceremony is being performed.
This ceremony is followed by Mahira Dastoor, Janev ceremony and the Palla Dastoor where the the groom's family come along with a set of things like the clothes and the jewellery, which the bride has to wear during the wedding time and also some gifts.
The Baraat group consists of only the male members of the groom's family. The groom usually rides an elephant or a horse and also carries a sword. Also, each of the other male members of the family carried a sword as a convention.
Once the baraat reaches the bride’s place, the bride's mother takes the groom to the ladies section after performing the aarti. He then proceeds towards the wedding Mandap. The wedding takes place as usual with the Yagya fire and the Vedic mantras. The only exceptional thing about the whole matter is that the bride has to keep her face hidden behind a long veil throughout the marriage. This is followed by bidai.
The Sarpech, turban ornament or aigrette used among royalty had precious stones set in ornate gold and drops. Emeralds were used against a backdrop of diamonds in a number of aigrettes of the time.
Mathapatti or head bands favoured by the royal womenfolk of small kingdoms consisted mainly of small pearl beads with a pendant of large precious stones.
Teekas worn by the royalty of Patiala were large, flat, jewelled plates with pearl drops often worn on the parting of the hair with no other head ornament.
Earrings in designs of pearl drops, bejwelled danglers or single large studs were set mainly with diamonds and large precious stones making the ornaments heavy to wear.
Brooches were an important part of attire for women at the time. Apart from holding their saris in place, the jewelled pins also added a style statement, made as they were with large precious stones in the most breathtaking designs. Some of the striking pieces exhibited at museums today were created by European jewellery houses commissioned by Indian maharajas, inspired by Indian culture, using precious stones, sometimes family heirlooms.
Precious stones were usually family heirlooms made into rings so that it could be used by each generation. The Chalk Emerald, originally weighed 38.4 carats, was once part of an emerald and diamond necklace belonging to the Maharani of Baroda. Ranked one of the finest Columbian emeralds, it was re-cut and set in a ring surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds.
Ornaments for the hands were broad, chunky or bold designs encrusted with stones or bracelets with clasps and a central precious stone. Pearl bangles and bracelets were also popular.
Necklaces were worn in multiple layers by royalty. The second wife of Maharaja Pratap Singh Gaekwad of Baroda inherited a seven strand necklace known as the Baroda Pearl Necklace with some of the largest natural pearls in the world when she got married in 1943.The pearls were matching pearls in terms of size, shape, color, luster and surface quality with a spherical or near-spherical shape.
The Maharajah Khande Rao Gaekwad takes the cake for owning some of the most extraordinary pieces of jewellery of the time. These include astounding pieces likethe triple-tiered diamond necklace incorporating the 129-carat ‘Star of the South’ diamond, the Baroda Diamond Necklace with the 78.53-carat ‘English Dresden’ diamond, as its centerpiece and the Hindu Necklace– a seven-stranded diamond and emerald necklace.
The Baroda Set was commissioned by the Maharani of Baroda to Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris with all the gems provided by the Maharani from the Baroda Crown Jewels. The piece had 13 pear-shaped Colombian emeralds attached to diamonds set in lotus flower motif.
The Patiala necklace in the grand Art Deco style created by Cartier in 1928 took three years. Owned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala with 2,930 diamonds and weighing 962.25 carats - including the magnificent De Beers diamond, it was one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery in Indian history.
The Patiala Ruby Choker was gifted by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala to his queen Rani Yashoda Devi. The three part choker had rubies, pearls and diamonds. It disappeared from the royal household at some point before reappearing in the Swiss art market with not much intact apart from the Cartier signature. Cartier Tradition, Geneva then restored it to the original design complete with platinum mounts and is now part of the royal Al Thani family of Qatar’s collection.
The Bayadere necklace, created from seed pearls, diamonds, sapphires and platinum was also part of the Patiala jewellery collection.
The Maharaja Wagh ji Rava ji of Morvi had anklets with 18 gold-wrapped twirling links separately set with finely cut oval diamonds and cabochon rubies.