In Rajasthan as in the rest of India one cannot get married any and everyday. The day and date is decided by the planets which only the scholars can read.
There are certain months that are absolutely taboo for marriages. Marriages continue to be mostly arranged as many things are taken into consideration for the welfare of the society – the family socio-economic background as well as genes all locked up in the ancient system of gotra and jati.
The marriage vows are made in front of the Fire-god, the holy stone of Naryayan, and relations with friends.
The ancestors are also invited from the heavens to witness the bonding of man and wife.
The colourful ceremony leaves a strong impression on the couple and is expected to last through life – securing the health of the entire society embracing the young and old. There are many forms of marriage in India and one was the abduction of the woman by the name.
It brings to the mind the famous story of Prithviraj Chauhan of Rajasthan who snatched his bride Samyukta from her swayamvar. In yester years the bride had to go around a hall with a garland in her hand to choose the man of her choice amongst the invitees.
Samyukta’s father had not invited Prthviraj and hence the snatching episode. Another form of marriage was the gandharva type in which the couple married secretly with the sky and nature as witness. In the story of Shakuntala is recounted the dangers of such an alliance.
The classical marriage is when the father or his representatives gives his daughter to the groom. This is preceded by the exchange of garlands. The groom places vermillion on the forehead of the bride while tying a sacred thread of gold round her neck – two things she must never do without while her husband is alive.
There are minor alterations from one state to another but in general these forms are followed across India. The marriage takes place in the house of the bride where the groom’s party are feted and pampered.
The following day the groom departs with his new wife to his own home. It is a poignant touching ceremony. In Rajasthan everything including marriage is done with a splash and colour that make many come down especially to see a Rajasthani wedding.
Turmeric and sandalwood together with flower and incense sticks create a fairy land. Red is the colour for the bride. She is bedecked in sparkling jewels. The groom comes on horseback even today in memory of past days of glory.