Indian Marriage is a grand and elaborate affair. The wedding celebrations begin days before the actual wedding day and last 2-3 days. The pre-wedding rituals are actually traditional customs that are considered to be auspicious for the wedding as well as the married life of the would-be couple. It helps to develop thefamiliarity and the bond between both the families involved. These pre-wedding rituals include several ceremonies like Roka, Sagaai, Saga, Sangeet and Tilak.Tilak is the initial and vital pre-wedding ceremony in India. The commencement of the wedding alliance begins from this ceremony itself. In some caste it is called the Chenkai Ceremony. After the wedding is fixed, the first ceremony which locks the seal is Tilak ceremony. The Tilak ceremony is performed in most of the family according to their personal family tradition and culture. It is held in all parts of the country with varying degree of amusement and excitement. Since the religion and culture varies from one state to other, the mode of celebration of Tilak Ceremony is also according to different culture and caste.
The ceremony is held at the groom’s residence or at any temple because according to the Hindu custom only the groom is eligible for the tilak ceremony. Traditionally, the bride and her mother do not attend this ceremony. It is usually attended by the male members of the bridegroom. The father of the bride along with other associates visits the house of the groom. There he applies the auspicious tilak on the forehead of the groom to ensure that the he is finally ready for marriage and also that the bride’s family has accepted him as their would-be son in law. The actual motive behind its celebration is to enhance the bonding between the two families.
Tilak belongs to the auspicious Hindu custom. But there are different types of Hindus and their customs are very different from the counterparts. But Tilak and its inviolability is known far and wide. Therefore it is usually held in all parts of India accompanied with rituals and merriment. Many Hindu families believe in Muhurt, which is auspicious time told by the priest to perform a wedding function. As the Muhurt approaches, the family of the groom waits for the father of the bride and other male members to come to their place. As they arrive both the members of the family greet each other by Namaste and hug each other.
The thali of tilak has a special bowl that contains a paste of sandalwood, saffron, and paste of kumkum, oil and lamp of ghee.
The Tilak ceremony begins from a pooja or havan where the bride and the groom’s family pray for a happy and auspicious future of the would-be couple and the priest chants mantra to seek blessings of the Lord.Aarti of groom is performed and he is asked to keep a piece of cloth on his head. After this the brother of the bride applies tilak to the groom as a mark of respect and acceptance. The consecrated moment a kumkum tika on the forehead has special significance. It indicates the pouring of blessings on the couple. Bride’s brother then endows him with gifts such as clothes, sweets, fruits, flowers, garlands and token money as a shagun.The groom’s father in turn gives mehendi, jewelry, clothes, sweets, coconut, sugar, rice and henna to the bride’s family. The entire Tilak Ceremony is followed by much merriment and entertainment. All the other male members of the bride’s family such as uncles, cousins etc also perform the same ritual to state their loving approval of the groom. Kumkum is a sign of auspiciousness.
In few parts of India, Tilak ceremony is held in the households whereas in other parts of India, Tilak ceremony is held in worshipping venues. The ceremony is followed by refreshments to celebrate the new accord between the families. A large feast is organised by the groom’s family to celebrate this occasion. The Venue is decorated with colourful curtains and flowers. The colours vary from orange, red and maroon. There are also some other drapes used with handcrafted work to ensure better taste and design. Tilak ceremony is based on the archaic Indo-Aryan style of worship. It evokes a spiritual calmness and a personal sanctity which is of prior importance in a marital bondage.
In Sikh religion, the ceremony is performed by a preacher or bhaiji from the Gurudwara who first recites the hymn and after that offers the groom a date and applies the tilak on his forehead, marking the engagement. However, in most of the communities of Hindu religion, the Tilak is applied by the bride’s brother on the groom’s forehead. Tilak ceremony is also called Teep in Bengali and as Pottu in Tamil and Malayalam.
In north India like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, The bride’s brother carries a pot of silver or copper, in it he has coconut and mango leaves. He places 3 plates on the pot, the first platter is filled with husk covered rice coloured red or yellow, supari turmeric sticks. The second ‘parat’ contains yellow rice and Rs. 51/- also coloured yellow. The third ‘parat’ contains dry fruits and sweetmeats.Every gift and ‘puja’ item being carried for the ’tilak’ ceremony has to be touched by the bride before it leaves the house. All gifts are demonstrated in the courtyard before the ceremony commences. The bride’s brother applies a ‘tikka’ on the groom’s forehead and garlands him. He then puts the pot down; the groom touches the pot and puts it back. Similarly each and every gift brought by the bride’s brother is touched by the groom and put aside one by one. Post which the entire gathering shower their blessings with akshat or coloured rice. All the five males from the bride’s family receive gifts called Samang from the groom’s side.
Tilak Ceremony lays the foundation for a healthy relationship. After tilak ceremony the preparations for marriage progress with leaps and bounds. The pre wedding ceremony involves some agreement, often unwritten. The declaration on the lagnapatra demarcates the shouldering of responsibility by the groom. Tilak Ceremony epitomizes that responsibility along with love and purity of heart.