H = Haldi Ceremony

This ceremony is quite common amongst weddings across the country and is known by various names in different regions of the country ubtan, mandha, tel baan, gaye holud etc. Haldi or turmeric plays an integral role in Hindu (and even Muslim) weddings. The yellow color is considered to be auspicious and is also believed to ward off evil spirits. But my suspicion is that turmeric is so popular because it acts as an exfoliant astringent, body cleanser and skin tightener, which adds glow to the skin and helps bring a glow to the bride and groom. Haldi also has antiseptic properties. In fact, in earlier times, the prospective bride and groom used to be scrubbed daily with this paste beginning a month before the wedding. However, nowadays the haldi ceremony is done just a few days before the wedding, or even on the morning of the wedding.

The haldi paste is made from turmeric, rose water, and sandalwood powder. It also signifies purification of body and soul in preparation for entry into holy matrimony.  After the haldi ceremony the bride and groom cannot see each other until the wedding nor leave the house. In this ceremony, family members (again mostly females women) apply haldi paste to the bride and groom (at their respective residences).

In West Bengal, haldi for this ceremony comes from the groom’s side. The paste is the same one that has been used for the groom and signifies unity of groom and bride. The arrival of the haldi paste at the bride’s home (along with other gifts) is a much awaited event and is greeted with conch blowing and ululation.

While the haldi is supposed to be smeared all over the body, it is symbolically put on five places: the feet, knees, arms, hands and face; three times or seven times using a brush of grass. Often the bride and the groom also share a part of the sacred paste with their unmarried friends and siblings believing that this will enable them as well to soon find a partner – that too a good looking partner.

This ceremony is usually accompanied by singing of folk songs much merriment, fun, shrieks and screams of laughter. It is a messy (and smelly) affair with it becoming a free for all but nevertheless so much fun!

Oh yes, dont worry – the bride and the groom are allowed to scrub off the paste after a public drenching, err ritual bath – see below 😉

Quote for the day: I am a great believer in that if you take good care of your skin you wont need a lot of make up – Demi Moore

Have a great weekend people and see you all on Monday. Look forward to reading your thoughts and thank you for leaving me a note 🙂

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16 thoughts on “H = Haldi Ceremony”

  1. A great write-up on the Haldi ceremony. Our wedding rituals are very well thought out and are very meaningful – though in this day and age these do appear somewhat too elaborate and unnecessarily expensive (though not all rituals are expensive). Also, in many case the cost of the wedding is borne by the bride’s family which is also anachronistic in this age. On another note, ‘ululation’ had me
    scurrying scrambling for the dictionary!


      1. Thanks Dahlia. Sorry, I was a bit embarrassed to ask, but I remember turmeric getting on my shirt one time when I was cooking, and the stain wouldn’t come out. That’s why I was wondering. I find all the traditions fascinating!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice and informative post! I think you’re right- the turmeric must be used for all its ‘beautifying’ properties; I’m allergic to it and break out in a rash :(. And I’ve seen brides who look frankly jaundiced, but it adds to the fun anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems to be an elaborate ritual…. Have been always advised to smear haldi to get that “fair” complexion, but not in the way described…..if my memory serves me right, this haldi smearing ritual is done at the time when a girl attains puberty too…used to be a mini-marriage like celebration in olden days..

    Liked by 1 person

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