Significance of Post Wedding Rituals in an Oriya Wedding
Simplicity and straightforwardness sums up an Oriya Matrimony. While weddings no doubt are a joyous occasion, the Oriya weddings are devoid of any extravagance or opulence. An Oriya Matrimony is accompanied by a number of rituals. There are quite a few post wedding rituals which have a significance of their own and showcase the age old traditions and values intrinsic to Orissa.
Kauri khela: This is a post wedding ritual where the bride and groom play a kauri, a white colored conch shell. The bridegroom first holds a kauri in his fist and the bride tries to break the fist and get the kauri with both her hands. In the next round the bride makes a tight fist with both of her hands and the bridegroom tries to open her hand with only one hand. Rounds of such games go on between the sisters and other younger members of both families where one elder lady from the bride’s family assumes the role of judge. The significance of this post wedding ritual is that it is believed to bring wealth, harmony and prosperity to the family. Also, it is an occasion for both the families to get to know each other.
SaleBidha: This is a custom of the bride’s brother, sala, giving a punch, bidha, on the back of the bridegroom. This fun ritual has its significance in the fact that the brother-in-law reminds the groom to take care of his sister from here onwards and if he fails in his duties then he would take him to task.
Sasdahipakhalakhia: After the games are over, the mother of the bride makes the groom sit on her lap and feeds him curd pakhala (rice and curd) along with baigana poda (spicy mashed eggplant). This is known as Sāsudahipakhaḷakhia. The significance of this ritual is that the mother-in-law shows the groom that he is now just like a son to her.
Bahunagita: In this is post wedding ritual the elderly women of the house join-in with the bride’s mother in singing songs of mourning. These rhythmic songs, called Bahunā gita, have been composed by anonymous poets and used as a literary tradition for many years. These songs signify the pains taken by the mother in giving birth to her daughter, nurturing her over all these years and then finally seeing her departure from her own home to her new abode.
Grihapravesh: In every Oriya Matrimony the bride, along with her husband, leaves for her new home, where the groom’s family gives them a warm welcome. This is known as Grihapravesh. The groom’s mother (who does not participate in the wedding ceremonies at the bride’s place) welcomes the couple into the bride’s new home. ‘Khai’, puffed rice, is tossed onto the path of the newlyweds while they enter the home. This is for good luck. At the entrance to the house the bride tilts a vessel filled with rice with her right feet making the rice spill over the ground. The significance of this ritual is that as the bride is considered an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi, the spreading of the rice signifies the spread of happiness and prosperity on the bride’s entry into her new home.
Chauthi/Basara rati: This post wedding ritual is done on the fourth day called ‘Chauṭhi’ and the night called ‘Basararati’. During the day a puja and homa are conducted which includes roasting a coconut. A room along with a bed is decorated for the couple with fragrant flowers. The bride lights a lamp known as basara dipa alongside the bed. The couple is offered the roasted coconut from the homa and during the night the bride offers a glass of saffron milk to the bridegroom. The significance of this ritual is that it is the night of consummation of the wedding and the beginning of a lasting and glowing relationship.
Ashthamangala: On the eighth day after the wedding the bride and the groom are invited to the bride’s house. This is known as ashthamangala. Delectable food is prepared and served to the newly married couple. The girl receives sarees and jewelry from the groom. The blowing of the conch along with the sound of hull-hula makes the atmosphere festive. (HullHula is a sound made by placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth).The significance of this ceremony is that it marks the end of all festivities related to the wedding.