Getting married in Gujarat

11:29 PM
Indian weddings are renowned for being colourful, fun-filled occasions when all the family come together to unite a pair for life. India is a deeply spiritual country and as a result, there are an assortment of special rituals that take place in the lead up to and on the big day - rituals that vary according to region. Many of these rituals have their roots in religion - a Hindu wedding will have vastly different traditions to a Muslim wedding. However, one thing they all have in common is a spiritual significance and focus on bringing two families together.

In the western state of Gujarat, a state where traditions run deep, there are a number of special events that occur when a couple unite. The engagement itself is an excuse for a celebration, known as ‘Sagai’, and this is closely followed by the pre-wedding rituals which begin with the MandapMahurat. This Hindu ceremony is dedicated to the elephant-headed god, Ganesha, in the hope that he will bless the union and remove obstacles from their path to happiness. Another famous ritual is Griha Shanti, a ceremony which charts the horoscopes of the pair to ensure they are a good match and can live in harmony.

The wedding day itself begins with the arrival of the groom who greets his new family in a ritual known as the Pokavu. The mother-in-law will wash the groom’s feet and offer him milk and honey, whilst a sister-in-law attempts to steal he groom’s shoes. If she succeeds in this playful endeavour, the groom will have to offer her cash for their safe return.

These are just a few rituals you can expect from a Gujarat wedding, rituals based in humour and the spirit of fun. However, there is a more serious side to this kind of Indian wedding. We are talking, of course, of the food.

Food is a serious business at any Indian wedding and the extensive Gujarati menu has plenty of tasty tricks up its sleeve for guests to celebrate the big day. Traditionally the wedding feast is a long, leisurely affair - best to be good and hungry before you sit down at this table. These days, the lavish display of dishes is likely to incorporate fusion food from all over the world, thanks to the changing tastes of India’s multicultural younger generation. However, you will still find some classic Gujarati fare that are simply must-have morsels at any wedding and put paid to any ideas that vegetarian food needs to be bland or boring. Highlights might include fluffy dhokla, served hot and fresh with green chutney; lilvakachori, a dumpling stuffed with spiced green peas; rasawala aloo, a rich, red potato curry; and for dessert a creamy, sweet dish known as shrikhand or the pureed mango dish, aamras.

Fans of Indian food reading this may have worked up something of an appetite by now. Why not book a table at one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants and satisfy those cravings with their authentic and inventive menus?

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