The Baraat {Indian Wedding Rituals}

2014 Jul 29 - by dulhan
Dhol, noise, music, laughter, twirling dress, aunties cheering, cousins dancing, horses, elephants, shutting down the main street, pulling strangers into to the celebration, the baraat is the Big Bang that starts the wedding off in full Desi glory.

 {Photo courtesy of IQPhoto Studios, via Preeya &Parmod's Wedding}

The Baraat is a largely North Indian and Pakistani tradition by which the groom arrives at his wedding.  It typically begins somewhere down the street from the wedding venue.  Then, over the course of maybe 20 or so minutes, the groom and his family, accompanied by music, make their way up the street singing and dancing.

{Photo courtesy of Jihan Abdalla Photography, via Kavita & Tejas' Wedding}

The groom himself traditionally rides atop a white horse, which is decked out in flowers and and embroidered saddle for the occasion.  He carries a ceremonial sword at his side and his favorite nephew or young male cousin (who is usually about 2-8 years old) sits in front of him  on the horse.  The groom also wears a sehra, or curtain of beads or flowers affixed to his turban which prohibits him from seeing the bride.  Not all grooms opt for the horse some even go for elephants or on foot.   The sword and the sehra are similarly used or not depending on the groom's preference and his family's traditions.  For Punjabi families, all the close male relatives of the groom wear turbans as a symbol of honor.

{via A Gorgeous Indian Korean Wedding}

Music is a huge part of the Baraat as the baraatis, the members of the groom's side who dance and walk alongside him in the procession, sing.  Dhols are common at Baraats as is a live band (full of South Asian instruments, of course).  DJs are also becoming increasingly more and more fixtures of the Baraat as they drive alongside of or in front of the procession playing bhangra beats.  As well, the groom and his family are met at the front of the wedding hall by shehnais, auspicious horns that only play at Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh weddings, and the bride's family.

{Photo courtesy of Nick Rose Photography, via Vanita & Tom's Wedding}

When the Baraat procession arrives at the wedding venue, the bride and her family meet them for the Milni.  Here relatives from both sides meet their counterparts on the other side and shake hands and hug.  This usually beings with the fathers, then the mothers, then proceeds to the siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  The Milni symbolizes the merging of the two clans. From there, for Hindu and Sikh weddings, the bride's family, usually the bride's mother, performs an Aarti over the groom's family.  The Jaimala follows soon after and the wedding begins.  

The Baraat is very much the jumpstart for the wedding day - it begins the celebration with excitement, singing, dancing, and laughter and carries the groom right up to the ceremony.  If done right, it can set the tone for the whole day so make sure you have all the fun you possibly can!