It is all just for fun

WEDDING GAMES

It is all just for fun

From the pomp and pageantry loaded, to the lusty, to the gently naughty games, Indian weddings are always a raunchy package. Of course, we are one big wedding-crazy nation, says Vimla Patil.

A pillow fight between the newly-weds... A hide-and-seek game played between the families of the bride and the groom... A challenge offered to friends to read the bride’s henna-patterned hands... Women acting out the various roles of men... Hiding the bride away from the groom’s lustful eyes... Stealing the bridegroom’s shoes... Indian wedding games always add that little zest, that touch of sensuality, and a spirit of adventure to the otherwise routine sacraments of a marriage. Indian weddings are colourful, joyous, noisy celebrations to which such games add humour, fun, and even healthy rivalry between the two families.

Some games and events have become nationally popular because they are shown in Hindi movies. Hiding the shoes of the bridegroom after he is welcomed at the venue by his new in-laws is a game called Jutti Chhupai. The young sisters of the bride steal the shoes of the groom and hide them till the wedding rituals are over and demand money for returning them. The bridegroom usually comes prepared with gold rings for all of them. 

In another game, the bride and groom, after being welcomed in their home, are engaged in a game of Juwa or gambling. A large pot containing water mixed with milk or vermilion is placed before them. A ring and some coins are dropped into the water. Both have to dip their hands in the water to find the ring. Cheering observers shout around them, saying whoever finds the ring would be the dominant partner of the two. In a third common game, the bridegroom is asked to find the first letter of his name, lovingly hidden in an intricate henna pattern on the palm of his bride. In each case, a groom who loses in any game has to reward his bride with a piece of jewellery or a present. Mooh Dikhai, or seeing the bride’s face for the first time after the marriage, is yet another popular ritual. Here, the women of the bridegroom’s family lift the veil of the bride and upon seeing her face, gift her with money or jewellery.Though these games have been made nationally popular by films, each community or region of India has its own games and events. 

Maharashtrians

In Maharashtra, the groom holds a clove or a betel leaf beeda in his mouth and naughtily invites his bride to bite off a piece from it so that the couple ends up kissing in front of onlookers! Naav Ghena or Name Taking is yet another funny ritual. The feast after a wedding also hosts an interesting game. The bridegroom bites off a piece of a sweet – such as a Gulab Jamun – and offers the other half to his bride in the midst of revelry. This is the first time they share food in this intimate manner and the bride is rewarded with a gift for accepting the offer. In yet another game, the women of the bride’s family hide her away and dress another young girl of her height and look in bridal finery. If the bridegroom cannot locate his real bride, he has to pay a fine – by giving a gift to her. The most cheesy ones of all is perhaps the one where a newly married couple is encouraged to take the first bath together with turmeric-touched water – with clothes on – to entertain the onlookers!

South Indians

Among Southern families, sisters of the bridegroom block the couple’s way out from the venue after the wedding. They demand that their brother promises his daughters in marriage to their sons. The groom’s mischievous ‘promises’ cause embarrassment to the bride, who is yet to consummate her marriage. Finally, the sisters settle for gifts and new clothes. The bride and groom exchange riddles and whoever answers most of them correctly is called the ‘smarter’ partner!

North India

Common games in Northern states involve the prediction of a couple’s married life. The bride is given a jumbled up knot of strings to unravel on condition that she and the bridegroom can use only one hand each to accomplish the job. The sooner they do this, the better are their chances of making a success of their marriage. Another naughty practice requires the couple to hold a pillow between their shoulders as they sit with their backs towards each other. They are asked naughty questions which they must answer with a vehement yes or no nod. For the onlookers, it is laughter all the way as they try to keep the pillow in place, for if they drop it, they have to pay a penalty. 

A game devised by women of the bride’s family involves knotting of sarees to make round slots wide enough for a hand to pass. The saree is then held lengthwise and the bride, with her friends, stands in a row along it. Each woman thrusts her bejeweled, ‘henna’ed hand through a slot. The groom is allowed to see only the hands and recognize his bride’s. If he wins, he gets a reward. If he loses, he gives a gift each to all the women before reuniting with his bride.

There are as many games and events as there are communities in India. But trends and fads change with time. Whereas several traditional games described above have spawned newer, tech-age games. Today, with weddings becoming more and more elaborate, ever new games and rituals continue to be invented by modern wedding planners to make 21st century celebrations memorable not only for a young couple, but also for extended families on both sides. From the pomp and pageantry loaded, to the lusty, to the gently naughty games, Indian weddings are always a raunchy package. Of course, we are one big wedding crazy nation!

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