PRE MARRIAGE CEREMONIES
Marriages are celebrated in Gaddi community with great enthusiasm like other communities in Himachal Pradesh. As soon as boys and Girls are grown-up parents or guardians or near relatives arrange their marriages without their consent as among them, their is no choice in the selection of spouse either for the boys or for the girls. Majority of the them are married between 16 to 25 years of age. Development of sexual relations before marriage is considered bad in the community. Cases of love marriages and outcaste marriages are also very un-common, rather they are considered an evil in Gaddi society. Proper vigil is kept on the children so that they may not indulge in wrong practices. Marriage is considered necessary. They believe that marriage involves certain rights, duties and responsibilities on both parties entering the union and also on the children born of it. In terms of physical attributes a fair skinned, stout bridegroom is preferred. The boy should be older and taller than the girl. A difference of 4 to 8 years in age is considered fair and good and in terms of status and standing, the boy should belong to good "Kula" possess a good moral character, an earning hand, hard, worker and known in the 'Bradari' for his honesty, fairness and good dealings. A beautiful obedient, modest submissive, industrious, well versed in domestic household duties and adjustable girl is considered an asset by the in laws. Early marriage is common among gaddis from the early periods. The rate of early marriage is high in case of girls who are married mostly at the age of 17-20 years of age. Marriage for woman is a must whereas some males were found enjoying celibacy.
Widow marriage is also common in case widow is of younger age. A few instances of widow marriage at higher age are also found. Widowers also do the second marriage. Such marriages mostly take place to get a helper in agricultural work or in live-stock rearing or to find a companion for old age.
Pre marriage ceremonies, occupy a significant role in accomplishing a gaddi marriage alliance. The major ceremonies are below:
1. BETROTHAL - KURMAI OR MANGNI
Gaddis believe in early betrothal of their children. They send their family purohit (Priest) or relatives who establish communication regarding betrothal such negotiations are called "RUBAR DEENE OR RUBAR LANE". The parents of the girls sometimes give flat refusal on some reasonable grounds. But, generally they take sometime to know all about the boy and his family. If satisfied, on some auspicious day the betrothal ceremony is fixed and the boys father is informed. The boy's father with some close relatives proceeds to the girls house and they carry the following items, which is called 'Bartan' :
a)Bartan : The bartan consists of (i) Babroos (Sweatened loaf)-in a bamboo basket covered with a red shawl or a sheet. (ii) Sweetmeats; (iii) One Roti of Gur; (iv) Dhania (Coriander); and (v) Tika/Sandhoor (Red colour).
The party generally arrives at the girls house in the evening, and is received with due respects. The Roti of gur is placed on the sil of stone. Ghee, the blades of the drub (grass) and dhania are placed in a plate of Khana. Cash amounting to rupee one and annas four are put in this plate. Before the Roti of gur is broken, the party concerned and the girls father make announcement of the boy's and girl's names. Then the Roti of gur is broken and put in the plate. The blades of drub grass are put on the turbans of boys father and his companions. The red colour is sprinkled on them and Gur and Ghee is distributed to all those present. Immediately after the ceremony the women and girls grace the occasion with songs. The meal called Khana is served to the party. After finishing meal each member puts some cash in his plate used for Khana. Gaddis call this custom as `Juth Pana'. The cash thus collected, is handed over to the girl betrothed. On the next day when the boys father with this companions, leaves the girls' house after Khana, some neighbours poor and others offer blades of drub grass as a mark of congratulations to the boy's father who in return distributes money. This distribution of cash/money is called "BAND CHUND". After the completion of betrothal ceremony the relationship between the girls' father and that of boy's father is known as "Kuram" and mothers of the boys and girls betrothed known as "Kurmani".
Betrothal ceremony is never performed in the month of Bhadon (August-September).
(b) Fixation of Marriage date : This is also called beokar Gorani/Beokar Rakhna. The boys parents consult their Purohit regarding the auspicious days for marriage. If the decision or conditions are found favourable, the girls father is informed and he also consults his Purohit. This procedure is known "BEOKAR GORANI", The girls parents (father or guardian) express their willingness for marriage and inform the boy's father who along with his close relatives goes to the girl's house. This is called "BEH LENA GAHANA". The auspicious day for marriage is fixed by the purohits of both parties. This is called "BEOKAR RAKHANA".
(c) Lakhnotri : -Lakhnotri is the most important document prepared by the family purohits in the presence of the parties concerned, much earlier than the exact date of marriage Lakhnotri is written on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sagrand day or any other auspicious day.The main procedure of Lakhnotri is as follows:
The parents of the would be bridegroom give timely information to the parents of the girl regarding the writing of lakhnotri on a particular day considered favourable. The following are prepared and arranged by the boy's parents and carried to the Kudams house by a party consisting of family purohit. (The number of the party must be three or five or seven).
(i) Babroos are put in a coloured basket prepared for the occassion and then covered with red cloth.
(ii) Dories, Bindies or Tikas and Bindas for all the ladies related to the girl.
(iii) Dori, Kungoo and Gur.
(iv) The items enumerated in, (ii) and (iii) above are put in a separate red piece of cloth.
The party reaches at the girls house in the evening. The purohit thrashes out most of the pod regarding marriage etc. in the evening. On the next day after breakfast, the parties sit and purohits after thorough study of jantries record the following on the papers:
(i) Exact time for performance of Samoot, Handi, Lei, Chhai, Sehra Bandi, Pare and departure of Barat.
(ii) Chandermas, 4th, 6th, 8th and 12th of the the family members and other relations.
(iii) Exact timings are laid down for Bat Bartna, Barsuhi Andrihna, Lagan, Bedi.
After recording all these important events of the marriage, the papers are folded and tied with a Dori. This written document is called "Lakhnotri". Ful, Ast and Kungoo are sprinkled Lakhnotri and the family purohit utters mantras. Then it is handed over to the father of the bridegroom or his nominee. Gur is distributed to all present. Drub are offered. Then the party proceeds to the bridegroom's house.
Writing of "Lakhnotri" is considered with seriousness and utmost care avoiding all inappropriate days, timings and bad omens. The `Lakhnotri' is kept with special care unto the day marriage. Once the `Lakknotri' is handed over and party has left the brides house, no body from bridegrooms' party will enter or even cross the threshold of the brides house. Once the "Lakknotri" has been written, even if a family member dies, marriage can neither be postponed nor cancelled. Thus the marriages are fixed at particular dates and time as advised by the purohits. There are certain months and occassions during which marriages are banned. The months of Jeith (Jeth), Basakh(Baisakh), Sawan, Saouj(Asany), Maghair(Magher), Katti(Kartik), Magh and Fagun (Falgun) are considered lucky months for Lakhnotri. The months are considered unlucky for Laknotri are Chaitra(Chait), Badro(Bhadhon) and Pauh (Poh).
(a) The marriage of jaitha putra (eldest son) is never fixed or celebrated during the month of jaitha.
(b) Girls and boys reaching or entering the age of 20th year are not married during that poh
(c) During the month of births of boys and girls marriages are not fixed.
(d) If the family member dies, marriage is banned for one year.
(e) Marriages are banned during Ast.
The wood to be used in connection with the Hawans, log fire and different culinary preparations, is cut on an auspicious day. The relatives and neighbours are invited, who cut wood and stock it in a rectangular pile. On the completion of this task Jhol (Rice Beer) is served and Khana is given. The wood stocked in rectangular pile is reserved for use during marriage only. The auspicious days considered for CHHEI are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and sangrand. It is on this auspicious day that women prepare Dories (out of cotton threads) but dye them at some later stage. The girls and ladies grace this occasion with thrilling songs as a mark of happiness. All members are apprised of the date fixed for the marriage.
3. LEI CHHEI
It is arranged much after the chhei described above and the cutting of wood during chhei and lei chhei by members is done with their heads covered with caps, turbans or cloth. While Lakhnotri is being written at the girl's house a very significant issues are also decided.
(a) The date and time, the 'lei chhei' is to be arranged. (b) Who is supposed to cut twigs of trees, and of what particular type of tree. The purohit after going through the names of family members and sorting out their "Lagan" and "Muharat" nominate members by name. They cut branches of trees as told by the Purohit. The trees are generally, Peach, Apricot, Daroo, Arn, Walnut, Pajja or some other trees. The wood cut is carefully kept in a bundle. It is needed in a Havan performed during Saand and (Khand) ceremoney by both parties i.e. the wood cut during chhei and lei chhei.
4. JATTI USALNI
When the marriage of the eldest son is finally fixed, the worship of Deity Kailu becomes "Must". The Diety Kailu is of two types.
(a) Hansoo-Which accepts goat of absolutely white colour.
(b) Moru -Which accepts goat of grey, brown or mixed colour, black and white. Gaddi call the goat by colour as Karda, Chitra or Kohra.
Deity Kailu is worshiped in a peculiar way. The custom of offering hair cut from the central part of the head of the eldest son associated with its workship is called "Jatti-Uslani" in Gaddi Dialect. The Purohit fixes an auspicious day for the performance of this traditional custom. Invitations are extended, items of "puja" are arranged. On the day already fixed, young girls, women accompanied by the musicians proceed to the site of Kailu. They sing songs on the way. A goat as desired by the Deity Kailu is also carried. On arrival at the site, Deity Kailu is given bath sacred thread in the form of a Kacha Dhaga (Thread) is put on Kailu. A piece of coarse Khadar cloth measuring five meters with two and half red strips stitched on it is offered to Kailu. The puja is performed and offered. The singing women and the musicians grace the occasions with religious songs.
A gentleman cuts the hair from the central part of the head of the eldest son and offers to Deity Kailu. Thereafter he is known as "Dharma ra Mama" (Maternal uncle by Dharma). The mother offers him dry fruit, sweetmeat, pieces of cloth with some coins. This custom is known as "Tambol Lana". The goat is sacrificed(some do a small cut to ear and not whole goat is offered),the head of the slaughtered goat is offered to Kailu and blood is also sprinkled. On the completion of this ceremonial old custom and worship, all concerned return, Khana is served to all invitees. Women and young girls sing religious songs wishing happiness and prosperity for the eldest son (would be bridegroom).
(a) The father of the boy does not take part in the worship of Kailu nor other men partici pate.
(b) Kailu is the Deity of women-called as "Istri Devta".
(c) Kailu looks after and come to help children in case of illness of any distress which over powers them.
(d) There are no temples and Dehris of Kailu Devta. Generally a stone is placed under a tree. Its worship has lasted, since a very long time.
(e) Lohan (piece of red cloth) is not used at all to cover Kailu.
5. PILGRIMAGES OR 'JATAR' TO LORD SHIVA'S TEMPLE BEFORE MARRIAGE
Lord Shiva, who is the principal God of the Gaddis is adored, called Jatar (Pilgrimage) revered and doted upon by all the members of the community. Jatar proceeds to the Shiva's temple. Children women, men carry with them red flag, Babroos, Luchies, Polies, Ghungni and essential items of Puja. They also carry a ram with them. While proceeding to the temple girls and women keep on singing songs while a boy or a man keeps on making small circles `(called mandloo with a red tikka in center) with the paste prepared out of rice at various conspicuous places or points. At the arrival of the temple the bridegroom performs puja. The Pujari or Purohit if taken, chants mantras, all the other members also participate in the performance of puja. Then the bridegroom washes the lower parts of the rams legs. He also washes the mouth and head of the ram. Then he puts rice, chandan and flowers on the head of the ram and sprinkles water on its body. Close relatives stand with folded hand and pray for its acceptance by their almighty God Lord Shiva.
As soon as the ram shivers all feel happy. Ram is then sacrificed and its head is placed by the "Lord Shiva". Liver and some meat from the four parts of the sacrificed ram is fried. This is offered to Lord Shiva and then distributed to all the present. This is called prasad. Offering of this prasad to Lord Shiva is called "Bhog Lana". All the participants of Jatar come back for Khana at bridegroom's house. In case of a bride no animal sacrifice is made but the bride offers coconut while performing puja along with other items of puja.
6. INVITATIONS (NEUNDRA PANI)
The family Purohit is called and invitee's names are dictated to him. The nominal roll thus prepared is kept by the purohit who extends invitation to all concerned.
7. SAI (CASH IN ADVANCE OR FEE IN ADVANCE)
Sai is given to the following
(a) Musicians - Called Bajewale (b) Kumhars (c) Dumnas (d) Botis (e) Kahars (f) Patliwale
Potters for providing earthen pots etc. For providing baskets etc. For prepration of feasts. Palki bearers. Fellows who prepare Patals.
The old custom of Chad prevails among the gaddis. Gaddis help each other by way of CHAD. It is demanded/offered in the shape of Rice, Ghee, Goats, Sheep and cash to reinforce the requirments of the marriage. The items and cash given are interest free and transportation charges etc. are never accounted for and no receipt or agreements are arranged. When some marriage takes place in the house of the donor the Chad is returned. It is praise worthy to note that since the origin of the old custom CHAD, upto this time, no cases of any friction un-pleasantness and despute have taken place. The strict compliance of this traditional custom demonstrates, honesty and strength of character.
Ludhek is an ancient custom of inviting the bridegroom, his family members and neighbourers for giving bath to the bridegroom and there after to serve dinner in honour of the bridegroom to all those present. Generally close relatives arrange/offer Ludheks in turns. Who originated the custom of Ludhek and when it was first introduced is not known. But it can be emphatically stated here that the custom of offering/giving "Ludhek" just before the marriage is not only useful, helpful but also indicates the good existing relations. It gives relaxation and reduces the financial burden of the bridegroom to some extent.
All invitees assemble at the appointed time at the house of a member who has arranged a "Ludhek". The bridegroom is made to sit, sisters, chacheries, mauserics, aunts and others massage the face, hands and feet of the bridegroom with milk, other part of the body are massaged with oil. (Mostly oil is used for massage now-a-days). Then the lady of the house guides the bridegroom to the courtyard where the bath is to be given. While guiding, she commences pouring water with an earthen goblet from the house to the courtyard. The bridegroom is made to sit on a wooden `Chawki' and the bath is given. Girls, women sing songs befitting the occasion. Source of the verses of the song are quoted as: "Aghne ambere badli na hi, angne chikar ke koi". Meaning -The clear sky has no cloud, how the courtyard is splashed with water. "Chachu re ghare lara piyara, lara go nahaun saajaya" Meaning -At the house of uncle the beloved bridegroom is, the bath has arranged for the bridegroom. After the bath bridegroom and his Panchaink are the first men to have dinner, all the other, are served dinner afterwards.
10. DORI RANGNI (TO DYE DORIES )
Dories are distributed during the marriage as a mark of "Suhag" to the women present. They are also used on various occasions during marriage. Hence the preparation and dyeing of dories is undertaken with seriousness and precautions. The Dories are prepared out of white cotton threads, on some auspicious day women are invited to dye them in yellow and red colour. The first pair of dories is banded over to a woman who is nominated to dye it according to the "Lagan or Mahurat" already decided. Then the dying of Dories is commenced by other women (This is called Doris Rangni) while at this job women sing songs of suhag and happiness after drying the Doris, they are kept carefully for distribution and use during various ceremonial occasions. Usually widows do not take part in dying of Doris, which they are safely avoids.
As soon as the Lakhnotri (Datesheets of the marriages) are completed, the maternal uncles of the Bhanja and Bhanji (Biridegroom and bride) concerned make eleborate arrangements for chhaks to be given during their marriages. Chhak means feasts given at the time of marriages, performance of religious rites, ceremonies and rituals associated by the maternal uncles and their wives. The maternal uncles extend invitations (Neunders) to all his close relations, friends and neighbourers who accompany the Chhak Party. Chhak(items/feast from brided/bridegroom's mother's side) is also called "Maina". The feasts are given one day earlier or with Sandi day(wedding) in both cases.
WHEN THE FEASTS ARE GIVEN
(a) Boys (Bhanja) marriage At the house of the bridegroom to large number of invitees, friends and other present on the sandi for Tel ceremony day.
(b) Girls (Bhanji) marriage At the house of bride, to all the relatives and invitees plus the marriage party with the bridegroom.
All expenses of these feasts are borne by the maternal uncles/concerned. Payments to cooks, water carriers etc. are made by the maternal uncles. Baid, Toran and Chandwa (cloth for Baid) for girl's (Bhanji) marriage and Toran for Boy's (Bhanja) marriage are provided by the meternal uncle.
The other essential items such as shoes (Mochri) Lingri with gothan (i.e. large redish coloured sheet with decent borders) in case of girls (Bhanji) marriage and shoes, sehra(groom's crown), pagri (Turban) clothes, sometime golden ring, kad (i.e. long cloth) if not given by a sister are also provided by the maternal uncle. The maternal uncles keep fast and are permitted to take Khana on the termination of Lagan ceremony.
THE CHHAK PARTY
The Chhak Party consisting of maternal uncle's relatives, friends and neighbourers, women, accompanying the Chhak Party sing songs. The Chhak Party is received by the father of the boy/ girl, while musicians playing on their musical instruments. On the arrival of the party near Toran the mother's of girl/boy offer "Gudtar" to all the members of the Chhak Party (Gaddi on this say "Nanhaili-ri-Chhak aee ha"). In cases where the maternal uncles are poor and unable to give feasts. They give lingri (duppata for luanchari) and shoes to the girl and pagri, sehra and shoes to the boy. They and their wives duly perform the customary rites and rituals pertaining to them.