India is a vast land and houses numerous states with varying customs and religions of their own. Every state in this country has its own unique set of traditions and customs which make every festival and occasion in that state special. Kashmir is not just the prettiest state of India, but its customs and traditions make it’s a very special place. Kashmiri weddings are an extremely joyous and fun filled occasion. The various pre wedding and post wedding functions ensure that the wedding festivities continue to last for at least a week or even more.
Amongst the numerous pre wedding celebrations that are done in a Kashmiri marriage, the mehndi ceremony and the devgun ceremony are the two very important Kashmiri rituals.
This ceremony is also known as the Meenziraat ceremony. It takes place about a week before the main wedding ceremony. The ceremony starts off early in the morning by performing the crook khaarun ritual which involves decorating the main gate of the house of both the groom and the bride. This decoration is supposed to be done by the respective aunts or father’s sisters of the girl and the boy. Then in the evening, these aunts help the girl in taking a grand bath in a proper ritualistic manner after which they apply henna or mehndi on her palms and feet. Even the boy is supposed to get this mehndi put on his hands, but in most cases, they do not get a proper mehndi but simply get a small dot or name of the girl written on their palms. While the mehndi is being put on the hands of the groom and the bride, other family guests are also invited to the function and even the other ladies on the house also get mehndi put on their hands as well. Music is played in the background and sometimes the cousins and friends of the groom and the bride may even dance and increase the energy levels of the ceremony. Finally, special dinner is served to everyone towards the end of the ceremony.
This is a very important pre wedding ceremony in a Kashmiri wedding. This ceremony marks the transition of the groom and the bride from the brahamacharya ashram to the grihastha ashram. Both the groom and the bride offer their prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and seek their blessing for happiness in their future married life. The ceremony is performed separately by the girl and the boy in their own homes. The ceremony starts by the relatives of the groom and the bride observing a fast. Then a purohit is called in who conducts the ceremony in front of a fire. Utensils and jewelry that are to be presented to the bride are also placed before this holy fire. Kanishran is the most important aspect of this ceremony, which involves bathing of the girl and the boy with a mixture of rice, water, milk and curd and then showering them with flowers. The girl and the boy then take a bath and wear new and fresh clothes. They are then presented with gifts like jewelry, new clothes, household items, etc. Amongst the jewelry given to the girl, dejaharu is the most important piece of jewelry. It is basically a gold tassel which is stuck to a thread and passes through the middle cartilage of the ear. The wearing of this jewelry signifies that the bride is now ready for the marriage.