The Importance of Rukhwat in a Marathi Wedding

A Marathi Matrimony may be a simple affair but there is one particular custom that is unique to this community and that is the “Rukhwat” or a bridal trousseau — an elaborate display of items that a bride would take along with her to her new home after marriage.

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“Rukhwat” are the items displayed by the girl’s family on the wedding day for the members of the boy’s family to see and admire. Traditionally you can say the significance of the Rukhwat is that these are the items a bride carries to her new home to start her new life. This ritual probably started so that the bride could showcase her talents and please her in-laws with her abilities. It also added to the prestige and stature of the girl’s family. In the past the value of the “Rukhwat” was a gateway to the bride’s receiving respectful and good treatment at the hands of the in-laws.

In a Marathi Matrimony once a marriage is fixed, there is a flurry of activity and enthusiastic mothers along with other eager relatives and friends start work on the items for the “Rukhwat”. It is usually a team effort and the mothers find this an appropriate occasion to reveal the bride’s abilities to be a good homemaker.

In the “Rukhwat” generally one sees — handmade crafts, photo frames, exotic planters, paintings, table mats, vases, candle stands, diyas, embroidered cushions, crochet work, jewelry box, glass and fabric painting, etc. There would also be an assortment of homemade edible goodies beautifully packaged. A touching poem may be added to demonstrate the bride’s literary talents.

Not all items in a “Rukhwat” are handmade and there would be quite a few bought off the shelf. These would include crockery sets, kitchen ware and utensils, crystal glassware, puja items, wall clocks, artificial flowers, linen etc. Some go to the extent of displaying pieces of furniture like cupboards, kitchen racks, beds, etc.

While displaying the items for a “Rukhwat” it should be kept in mind that the presentation should be interesting, eye-catching and sophisticated. The display table should not be cluttered. It should be kept simple but attractive. The choice of delicacies must be done carefully and prepared well so that the boy’s family appreciates them.

In the past the custom of “Rukhwat” was a very important part of any Marathi wedding but with the passage of time its significance is gradually dying. Though parents may give their daughters many of the household articles required they are not in favor of displaying them for all to see. On the other hand, many parents prefer to give their daughters cash in lieu of household items in kind.

Traditions like the “Rukhwat” may come and go but the values and principles which parents instill in their daughters are more important than the worldly possessions displayed in a mere ceremony and would remain with them for a lifetime!