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Wedding » Indian-weddings » Custom-rituals-061010
 
Rice n "Love"ly
A traditional marriage staple
 
Interestingly, this ritual finds resonance in the Kannada Grahapravesh ceremony too where the bride kicks a kalash full of rice with her right foot kept at the threshold of the house. This is followed by a name change ceremony which the groom inscribes with a ring on a plate containing rice.

Throwing rice to commemorate a Maharshtrian wedding then shouldn't be a surprise. Here the congregation showers the couple with rice after the antarpat or veil / decorated curtain between the couple is removed. Rice forms a bigger part of the actual marriage ceremony here when after performing the saath pheras (seven circles around the fire) the husband guides his wife as she steps on seven little mounds of rice promising his friendship, love, togetherness, and respect to her forever.

At the end of the waleema (vidai or send-off) in Muslim weddings the couple have a copy of the Qu'ran held over their heads while rice is scattered at their feet to wish the bride luck in her new home.

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International customs Traditions all over the world have similar significance attached to rice and rituals containing rice. In Germany, for instance, post-wedding rice is thrown on the bride to grant her fertility. Germans believe that the number of grains that remain stuck in the bride's hair will indicate the number of children she will bear. Korean weddings are a contrast in customs where elaborate rice cakes are prepared to bless the couple. Sticky rice is used as an ingredient to signify inseparable love. Other rice cakes used at wedding ceremonies include moon rice cake and two-colour rice cakes. Moon rice cakes symbolise the moon shining over each one's life. The two-colour rice cake represents two chickens, meaning a couple.

Iranians follow suit... and hail in the wedding festivities with rice.

In Christian traditions showering the couple with rice can trace its roots back to the pagan ages where rice, when touched by the couple, symbolised the transference of fertility onto the couple. Rice and other seeds and nuts have been thrown at bridal couples ever since Roman times to symbolise fertility.

Buddhist cultures have a reverse kind of ritual where rice is offered as a gift to the mother-of-the-bride as a way of thanking her for bearing and having breast-fed the girl.

Despite the numerous customs, rituals, and traditions associated with rice and its usage at wedding ceremonies around the world, couples are united in absorbing its symbol of fertility, prosperity and happiness as the first sprinkle of love as they start their married life together.
 
Fatema Kagalwala
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