Customs and Traditions of Rajasthan: Adoption in Rajasthan, Religious Ceremonies in Rajasthan, Wedding in Rajasthan

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The origin of the customs and traditions can be easily traced in the Vedas, where some specific rituals and ceremonies are prescribed in detail. The customs and traditions of Rajasthan are also based on the Vedic rituals. According to the Vedas, every man and woman has to perform certain ceremonies, known as Sanskaars, from birth to death. There are sixteen Sanskaars and mainly relates to three major events in one's life i.e., birth, marriage and death. The birth, marriage and death are completely woven in the customs and traditions of the people of Rajasthan. Although the birth of a son is considered as the most welcome event, a daughter in the family is also considered essential. The parents who are not blessed with a daughter to offer in marriage feel themselves unfortunate, as Kanyadan, giving of daughter is considered as one of the samskaras, without which one’s life is not considered complete.

Adoption in Rajasthan

Adoption is a common family practice in Rajasthan. Those who do not have male children usually want to adopt a male child to continue their line of succession. In Rajasthan, the Rajas and Maharajas used to adopt male child and make them their successor with the consent of the British Viceroy in India. Most of the Maharajas of Jaipur are the adopted sons. The ceremony of adoption is quite simple. The elders of the family and community assemble at the adopter's residence. They become the panch (elders of the family) at this ceremony. In their presence, the adopted boy is covered with vermilion and a coloured turban is placed on his head.

Religious Ceremonies in Rajasthan

The religious ceremonies starts from the conception, passes through birth and marriage, and continues even after death. The people consider barrenness as a great misfortune for a family so offerings are made to gods, treatments are taken from wizards, talismans are worn around necks and many other ways are used to have a child. Once the pregnancy is established, all precautions are taken to protect the mother from evil influences like charms are fastened round the neck and waist and a knife is put under her pillow at night. She is not allowed to go near mahua, khakra or khejara tree where spirits are believed to reside. Various religious ceremonies begins and women sing songs specially meant for such an occasion, some describing the changing behavior and liking of a pregnant woman. During the pregnancy period the woman is given some butter oil to drink to facilitate the delivery. A cow dung cake is kept burning constantly, into which drops of butter oil and some incense is cast from time to time and offerings are made to gods to ensure a safe and easy child birth. Certain promises are made that if the child is safely born the parents will take the infant to the deity and offer obeisance in person by shaving off the hair on head of the baby. If the birth pains are excessive or unbearable, the wizard's help is taken. Many women start wearing various charms as prescribed by wizards as soon as they realize that the pregnancy has occurred.

When the child is born, its birth is announced by the wife of the family barber or by the senior relatives or close friend. The naval cord of the child is cut with a scythe and the child is rubbed with wheat flour and given a bath. The cord and the placenta are buried carefully by the new father’s sister to prevent their coming in the possession of any animal, evil spirit or magician. The women ties strings of mango leaves at the doors of their house and with the help of cow dung or red earth draws a swastika, a symbolic representation of Sun, as a sign of good wishes and good news. The woman is given a partial bath after the delivery. On the sixth or seventh day, she is given a regular bath and dressed ceremoniously and is brought out from the delivery room with the baby by the younger brother of the husband to worship the Sun. The baby is massaged with oil and kajal is put on the eye-line and a red or blue string is tied round its waist. Both of them are are then taken in a procession to the village well for worship called jalwa. After the child's birth various ceremonies are performed like the Namkaran or Naming Ceremony and Mundan or Jaroola or Head Shaving Ceremony.

Namkaran or Naming Ceremony

The Namkaran ceremony is performed either on the eleventh or on the one hundred and one day after the birth of the child. The family priest is invited to perform the ceremony. He recites mantras from the Vedas and gives his blessings to the child. The family deity is also worshipped. A name is given to the child on this day. The children are usually named after gods and goddesses. The women of the family and the locality assemble, sing songs and offer their good wishes to the child. Often, the first child is named as Jeewa or Amra and Jeevi or Jeevni, Bhooli and Bhoondi. The children born to parents after they have lost quite a few babies are also given some names like Kachra or Kachri. Sometimes the parents who are blessed with a child after so much time, get the baby’s nose pierced and name it as Nathu or Nathi and cover it with the old garments received from the neighbours. Mangya, Rarha, Kajor, Ghasi, Chhaju and Ladhya are some other names given by parents to the children who are born after long time.

Mundan or Head Shaving Ceremony

The Mundan or jadula ceremony is performed in the family when the male child is about two to three years old. It is believed that the hair on the head of the boy, when he is in the womb, is inspire and therefore should be shaved off. On an auspicious day, the head of the boy is shaved with the chanting of Vedic mantras. The village barber first worship his razor and then proceeds to shave the infant’s head leaving a lock of hair. In most of the communities, the bunch of hair at the top of the head is left from cutting. Sometimes this ceremony is performed by some of the families in their ancestral temple. In various other communities, the ear lobes of the children are generally pierced when they are about five years old by the village goldsmith. The left nostril and upper rim of the ears are also pierced in the girls.

Wedding in Rajasthan

If there are two families with intense relationship, and the wives become the pregnant during the same period, then an agreement is made between the parents that if the children born are of opposite sex, they would be married to each other. The infant marriage, a social evil which was once widely done in the villages is still done in various communities. Akhateej, the third day of the brought half of the month of May, is considered as the most auspicious day for the wedding. The weddings are generally held on Dev Uthani Gyaras, Bharla Naumi, Dhulandi, Basant Panchmi and Janmashtami as no priest or astrologer is required to be consulted for the marriage. Whereas, a pandit is usually consulted to recommend an auspicious time for the event. The auspicious time, called the mahurat, is worked out by finding the most favourable alignment of the lunar phase with the solar cycle and the conjunction of the nine planets.

The various ceremonies in a marriage generally starts with a ceremony called sagai when the village barber, who may be accompanied by some near relatives, proceeds to the boy’s residence, usually in a nearby village, along with some money to be presented to the boy in the presence of people invited to witness the function. The boy’s father then sends some clothes and a set of bangles called chura for the girl. Later a date is fixed for the wedding, and a turmeric coloured letter called lagan or peeli chitthi, is sent to the boy’s home, through the barber informing about the mahurat and read before the invited guests. Wedding atmosphere then prevails in both the families and women assemble and sing songs of marriage describing the valour of the boy and the beauty of the girl.


After a ceremonial bath on the wedding day the bride groom is adorned with a special red or pink colour dress – a long jacket called angarkha, the tight pyjamas or a dhoti, a turban mounted with a Kalgi, and ornamented shoes called pagarkhi. A piece of red cloth is tied to the waist of the boy, and its free end holds a coconut. Another piece of pink cloth is bordered with lace and carried by the boy over his shoulders which is joined with the odhni, the veil of the bride, when the marriage ceremony takes place. At an auspicious time, the baraat leaves for the bride’s place. As the marriage party prepares to leave for the bride’s place, the mother of the boy comes forward and publicly suckles the bridegroom in a ceremony called boba dena. The party is received on the outskirts of the village by close relatives of the bride and lodged in a procession to the residence of the village potter, to worship wheel and to fetch basan, bevra and kalash required for the marriage rituals. The bride’s mother heads the procession on its way back holding the kalash in her hands followed by five suhagin carrying the other earthen vessels

Wedding in Rajasthan

on their heads. Passing through the janwasa, women sing a song noted for its melodic quality, called jala. When the party reaches the bride’s house, an important ceremony takes place. The bridegroom touches toran, a wooden frame, which is fixed on the main door of the bride’s place with his ceremonial sword, sitting on the horse.

According to Rajput tradition, mandap, the wedding canopy is decorated with the family weapons and processions are held, which people other than their own kith and kin are not permitted to witness. The phera ceremony conducted by a priest in the presence of the sacrificial fire then takes place when the bridal couple goes round the fire seven times, where the bride lead the first three round. After a sacrificial fire, the bride changes her seat from the right to left of the bridegroom. After some other small ceremonies the bridegroom returns home with the bride.

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