How to Perform a Parsi Wedding
A Parsi wedding, or Lagan, is a magnificent social occasion that stretches over several days and involves the families of both the bride and the groom as well as family friends. Many beautiful rituals form part of this extended wedding ceremony and these can be divided into pre-wedding rituals, wedding rituals and the post-wedding reception.
The first Parsi pre-wedding ritual is Rupia Peravanu which is the celebration of the couple’s engagement and impending marriage. Ladies from the groom’s household visit the bride at home and present her with a gift of silver coins and, after a short meal, the groom’s relatives return home where they are then visited by the bride bearing a similar gift.
The few days prior to the wedding day each have their own special traditions. The fourth day before Lagan is known as Madhavsaro, the third as Adarni and the day before the Lagan is called Supra nu Murat. On Madhavsaro, a fertility ritual involving the planting of a young mango tree is enacted by the two families and the plant’s soil mixed with precious metals and foodstuffs. Adarni sees the groom’s family members give the bride the traditional parsi wedding gifts and then share the traditional meal of sev and dahi (bananas and boiled eggs) with the bride, her family and friends.
The Supra nu Murat ritual takes place on the day before the Parsi wedding and, here, four married woman are each given a supra, a platter containing various foodstuffs including dates, paan, haldi and a piece of coconut, and they exchange these supras among themselves seven times while standing in a circle and singing traditional Parsi wedding songs. A fifth woman sits in the centre of the circle, and the turmeric that she is holding will then be mixed with milk to form a paste that the bride and groom are annointed with.
On Lagan day, the bride and groom first undergo Nahan, a purification ritual where they are bathed and then dressed in the traditional wedding attire. These clothes consist of the beautiful and ornate white Madhavate saree for the bride – as given to her by her parents – and the Parsi Dagli and Feta for the groom, being a white kurta-type suit and a black cap.
Most Lagan ceremonies take place at 6.40pm and they are held in either a baug or an agiary Fire Temple. The Parsi marriage rites involve a number of separate rituals which include Achumichu, Ara Antar, Chero Bandhvanu and Haath Borvanu. Achumichu takes place on the wedding stage and consists of the bride’s mother blessing her future son-in-law in a ritual involving traditional foods like supari and rice as well as water, and this is then repeated by the groom’s mother and her future daughter-in-law. Ara Antar sees the couples sit facing each other but separated by a length of cloth so that they cannot see each other. A priest circles them and binds them – and the cloth – together with string and they are given rice which they throw at each other once the priest has completed his task.
Chero Bandhvanu is the most significant part of Lagan and here the couple, still bound by string, are prayed over and showered with rice and rose petals and, after this hour-long ceremony, they exchange wedding rings. Haath Borvanu takes place once Lagan has been completed and consists of fun-filled activities that the bride and groom’s sisters and brothers join in.
The post-wedding reception is a magnificent feast to which all are invited and, after that, the only thing left to do is count the days until the next Lagan.