As a wedding procession, the baraat steps out from the groom’s side on the wedding day. Despite having no religious significance, it is a traditional ritual and one of the most enjoying traditions. The journey of the baraat begins from the groom’s home, and it continues to the wedding venue. Groom’s family members and relatives attend this wedding procession. The celebration consists of music and dances along with the journey to the wedding site. A few shehnai players, dhol wale or a brass band play music and people following the groom seated on a mare (white horse), an elephant or a car attend this wedding procession.
Why is the baraat important for weddings in India?
A wedding is a momentous occasion in one’s life, as it usually occurs once in life. For family members, friends, and relatives, the entire wedding ceremony is an enjoyable moment.
To celebrate the groom’s arrival at the bride’s home or the wedding venue, the baraat (wedding procession) is vital. The baraatis, consisting of family members, relatives, and friends, are helpful and they let not the groom feel alone in his marriage ceremony from his side.
What is the history of baraat?
The history of baraat/barat is as old as the one of marriage, which exists in every community since the advent of civilization. Over time, the marriage ceremony has changed a lot, and this has influenced the baraat.
In India, the wedding procession is a crucial custom for two communities, i.e. Rajputana and Punjabi. However, several other communities observe the baraat culture with a similar fervor. Based on the regions or cultures, the baraat has its own custom. In some customs, the wedding procession starts with the tradition of wrapping sehra, a particular veil for the groom’s face made of beads, flowers or other material, on the groom’s head. The next practice is the riding of the groom on the mare’s back for the journey from his home to the bride’s house or the wedding venue.
In some cultures, the groom rides on an elephant’s back for the journey on his wedding day. The baraat has a pause if the wedding venue is too far from the groom’s house. It starts in front of the groom’s home and carries on for a certain period. It has a pause when it is close to the wedding venue. After a break for some time, the wedding procession resumes, and it reaches to the site.
The Rajput Baraat mostly consists of male family members and relatives. It is a formal affair in most cases. Musicians surround the groom. However, no dancing takes place in the streets during the journey to the wedding venue. Most of the baraatis put on sherwani while the groom puts on a golden sherwani with churidar pants and a pair of jootis. The groom’s turban is orange. He rides either on a mare (white horse) or an elephant and carries a sword with him.
In a Punjabi Baraat, both men and women celebrate the journey from the groom’s residence to the wedding venue. Family members and relatives start dancing from the groom’s home and continue it till the wedding site. The musicians with dhol wale lead the wedding procession, and the baraatis follow the same. It is a flamboyant, enjoyable, and intense affair. The wedding processing starts with the tying of Sehra, which is similar to the Rajput Baraat’s cloth. During the wedding procession, friends and close relatives from both sides put turbans of light pink color. The groom wears a magnificent sherwani, which is of white or golden. Besides, the groom can wear sherwani in purple, green or red.
The present-day scenario
The baraat or the wedding procession has changed a lot with time. From the time of celebration to customs, several changes have taken place in the baraat of every community.
Now, it is not limited to a few communities in India. Most of the Indian communities have their own versions of the baraat, and most of these versions resemble the Punjabi type. The reason behind this is that the Indian television channels have featured programs and movies in which Punjabi type or such one marriage ceremony. Whatever the class is, the primary purpose of the baraat is an occasion for merrymaking and dancing.
Use of vehicles in place of animals
In ancient time, animals were the main means of transportation, as no vehicle was used. With time, there is a limit in the use of animals like horse and elephants for the baraat. In the present day, there is a complete restriction on the use of animals. Besides, people find it more comfortable to rent a vehicle like a car and get permission to decorate it. However, the use of a white horse or an elephant still exists, as it adds an elegance to the wedding procession.
Around 30-40 years ago, people had time. Therefore, the marriage ceremony lasted for five days, and the baraat stayed for two-three days close to the wedding venue. The baraatis enjoyed rich foods along with great respect.
Now, the baraat is of only 5-6 hours on the wedding day. The baraatis come back after attending the customs like milni, varmala and having meals on the wedding night.
Change in the music and dance
With time, the baraat has gone through a significant change and the change has taken place in the selection of musical instruments and songs. Earlier, there was no DJ, symphony band or orchestra in the wedding procession. The music sets the mood for the rest of the marriage event. With the exciting music and dance, the groom leads the journey to the wedding venue and the baraatis follow him. As the dhol or nagara along with Shehnai Players has its own importance, so most of the DJs have a moveable sound for the same. Modern Indian weddings have a combination of bhangra and hip hop.
In brief, the baraat is one of the most enjoyable moments in a marriage ceremony. It produces an opportunity for the groom’s family members, friends, and relatives to enjoy the occasion to their fullest.