Known as 'Lagan', Parsi marriages are full of fun and excitement as in any Indian weddings. Lagan being an extravagant event, the rituals spread out across days.
There are several rituals performed before the actual wedding ceremony such as Madhavsaro, Adarni and Supra nu Mrat.
This is the first ritual of a Parsi wedding and is performed four days before the wedding/lagan. Both the families of the bride and groom separately plant a sapling, mostly a mango sapling, in a pot amid the chanting of prayers by the priest. They mix metals like gold, silver, betel leaf, betel nut, turmeric, and dry dates in the soil, with a belief that it will bring good luck for the couple and keeps it at their house entrance. This tree is regarded as auspicious and is believed to be a symbol of fertility for the bride and taken care well for eight days and thereafter will be transplanted somewhere else permanently.
Adarni is performed a day after Madhavsaro and on the third day before the wedding. This is purely a gift exchange day. The groom’s family visit the bride’s house with new clothes, jewellery, and other accessories and a big feast is organised.
According to traditions, the bride can visit the groom’s house, but the groom cannot come to the bride’s house.
Supra nu Murat
Supra nu Murat is performed on the day before the wedding and is quite similar to the mehndi-haldi ceremony. Four married women are given a supra, which contains betel leafs, betel nuts, turmeric powder, dates and a piece of coconut. Amid singing ritual songs, the supras are exchanged among them seven times. A fifth woman sits in the middle, with a khalbatta (to grind the ingredients) and dry turmeric. Once it is over, they all join hands to beat the turmeric along with some milk in the pestle and they apply this paste on the bride and the groom.
On the day of Lagan, the entire house will be decorated with chalk or rangoli, which is known as ‘baug’. Parsis consider an early morning or the time immediately after sunset as the auspicious time for Lagan.
In the Lagan, both the bride and groom go through the Nahan ritual- the purification of the body and soul. Family dastur (priest) symbolically bathes and purifies the man and the woman. After purification, they are not allowed to touch anyone outside the family or caste. Then bride dresses up in her madhavate - the white, ornate wedding saree - given by her parents and the groom wears white kurta and traditional Parsi dagli with a black cap.
Before the groom comes to the wedding venue, the bride's mother performs a ritual called Achumichu, where she holds a tray containing a raw egg, betel nut, rice, coconut, dates, and water. She circles all these items, except water, seven times around the groom's head and throws on either side. The same ritual also gets repeated by the groom's mother for the bride.
Ara Antar is performed after Achumichu. In Ara Antar, the couple sits in front of each other and a cloth is put as a curtain between them to make a separation. They are given rice and the priests circle the couple in opposite sides of the curtain seven times. Then both the bride and groom showers rice at each other over the white cloth.
The bride groom sits closely for the chero bandhvanu ritual. Seven strands of string bind the two. As people besides them lights lamps, the marriage prayers, and blessings starts. With the showering of rice and rose petals, priests recite mantras for an hour. Soon after this the couple exchanges wedding rings and the priest wish them as var and bairi.
With the Chero bandhvanu ritual, the couple is declared married. The much-awaited fun starts here, where the bride’s sister tries to get cash from her brother-in-law by playing tricks, very similar to the ‘shoe hiding’ game in many Hindu marriages. The groom is made to put his hand into a glass of water which he cannot remove until he pays up, and then pag dhovanu, the groom is threatened with milk on his shoes unless he pays. The seven strands of string binding the bride and groom are removed by the sister-in-law after the cash.
Grand reception parties with a lavish spread of food, drinks, music, that goes on till dawn is synonymous with Parsi weddings. The dinner consists of four-course meals, with honu like sarya (crisps), achaar - roli (pickle and rotis), patra ni macchi (steamed fish), salli margi (chicken with potato crisps), lagan nu custard, pulao-dal and ice cream.
The lagaan comes to an end as the newly wedded gets escorted to groom’s house. Achumichu ritual is performed at the new house by the groom’s mother.