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like exchanging vows in Goa, nuptials and can arrange a
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The first step if you want
to get married in Goa is the act of the proposal or the utor. Among
the agricultural communities and other laboring castes the encounter
takes place in the early hours of the morning. Among the wealthy it
takes place late evening.
The ultimate proposal is worded in a very poetic manner, as in a typical
Says the boy's family to the girl's ( it is always the boy's family
that has to ask for the girl's hand in marriage in the Catholic community),
'We have smelt the perfume of a sweet flower in your garden. We have
come to ask for it.' Replies the girl's family: 'In that case you
may take this fire stick and enter the house.' The fire stick is a
symbol that they are in favor of the match.
After the utor begins a long series of dos and don'ts, well after
the day of the marriage. The betrothal is sealed when the bridegroom
sends the gift of fulam (flowers and sweets). These are to be distributed
to the neighbors.
The bride then gets her denem (trousseau) ready. She takes with her
several items in sets of seven each. That makes seven towels, pillowcases,
bed sheets, handkerchiefs, nightgowns and even seven undergarments.
Seven is thought to suffice her for a very long time.
The saddo takes place a few days before the wedding. It is the name
of the dress and the ceremony of cutting and sewing the dress. Saddo
is to be worn on the first day after the marriage. It has to be red
in color or red and white. All neighbors gather and the professional
ovio (songs of praise) singers are called in. The tailor sews the
dress while the women sing in the background. There's coconut cake
and tea to go around for everybody. The people leave a tip for the
tailor on their way out.
Both the families have a bhuim jevonn before the wedding. This is
a ritual meal in honor of the ancestors. All kith and kin have to
be present for this meal. In the well-to-do Catholic houses today
it goes by the name of bikariam jevonn, (meal for the poor). It has
taken the form of a charity luncheon for the poor, as ancestor worship
is regarded as a pre-Christian tradition.
However, the poor are asked to pray for all the family's ancestors.
A couple of days before the wedding is the ceremony of chuddo. These
are the bangles worn by the bride for her marriage. The bangle seller
is brought in, and with friends and neighbors singing ovios in the
background, the bride downs 30 green and red bangles, 15 on each hand.
Green stands for fertility and red for a married life. Traditionally
married women had to wear glass bangles throughout their life. They
had to be broken on the coffin of the husband.
The bridegroom's family has the privilege of asking for an ojem; a
gift of several sweetmeats and bananas, from the bride's family. These
are later distributed to neighbors and relatives.
The kunbi traditionally held group marriages a couple of days before
the Mell, the spring festival which is today merged with Carnival.
About 25 to 30 couples got married. The entire village would resound
with the ghumots (earthen drum) and dulpods. A day before the marriage,
the bride's toilette begins. The ros is a ritual where the bride is
ceremoniously massaged with coconut juice. It is meant to make the
skin smooth and soft. A large bowl is placed before the bride, who
sits in the bathing room. Each relative drops a coin in the juice,
takes a palm full and massages the bride. When all the juice is over,
the woman who had ground it gets the money.
The bride has to fast on the day of the wedding. Once she steps out
of the house, turning back to take a look is considered taboo. If
she drops a kerchief or her purse, she should not retrieve it either.
She gets another one if it is at hand. The items are left to the devil
who might have gone with the bride, had she picked them up.
Before proceeding to the church or temple the bride goes to her immediate
neighbors for their blessings. After the wedding reception is over
(which is usually late in the night), the vorr or the bride's marriage
party and the bridegroom's family see each other off at the shim or
border of the village. This is known as the portonem.
Both parties draw an imaginary line across the road with the foot.
One male representative from either family stands on each side of
the line, and snaps a blade of grass in a mock tug of war. Each one
throws a glass of feni on either side of the shim for the guardian
spirits and have a sangvonn for the guardian spirits and ancestors
seeking their protection for the newly wed couple and their families.
The parties then vend their way home to the drumming of ghumots and
dulpods and singing of ovios all the way, but not before the men have
had their 'one for the road'.
The saddo or the dress to be worn on the first night should not be
washed by the bride. She should leave it in the wash bucket with a
currency note tied to the skirt. The first relative who chooses to
wash the dress gets the tip.
On the third day the new son-in-law is invited for lunch at his in-laws
house. It is his first visit. The party includes the bridal couple
and their relatives and friends. It is customary for the son-in-law
and his friends to lift off any item that they like, provided it is
small enough not to be noticed. This is a joke played on the bride's
As soon as the bridegroom's party leaves, the bride's family gets
busy trying to find out what is missing -- a hand mirror, an ash tray,
a cell torch, a crystal wine glass, or probably your favourite perfume!
As a tradition you cannot ask for the things back. But the generous
sons-in-law of today religiously return all items after a day's suspense
and a good laugh.