The Goan Catholic wedding involves many customs and traditions that capture the happiest times of the Goan community. In the earlier days, a middle person known as a ‘Mali’ or a ‘Raibari’ used to arrange the marriage by taking a proposal to the boy’s or the girl’s family. These days, very few marriages are arranged this way and the family directly goes with a proposal if they like the boy or the girl. Next, after they agree, a decision called the ‘Utor’ (promise) is taken by the families whereby, they discuss the details of the wedding that include the dowry to be given to the bridegroom.
As per tradition, the engagement is then held at the to-be-groom’s place and takes place with the exchange of rings in the presence of family members, a priest, relatives, and friends. The bridegroom’s ring is taken in a special box that has the Infant Jesus statuette on it. The bride’s parents also put some money which represents the amount of dowry to be given at the bottom of the box. This is counted by an elderly family member who is known as a ‘yezman’.
After this, the wedding preparation begins. Relatives of both the bride and the groom, go shopping to purchase fabrics for the bridal gown, the ‘saddo’ and the dress material that the bride has to wear on the next day of the wedding.
According to the existing Portuguese Civil Code in Goa, the next step for the couple is Civil Registration which is done at the Civil Registrar’s office, in the presence of parents, close relatives, and two witnesses. Within a period of three weeks thereafter, the public can raise and submit objections if any, as the Registrar affixes a notice on the board inviting them to do so.
Next, the wedding banns are read in the church on three consecutive Sundays just some weeks before the marriage. If there is no time to read all the three banns, in case it is an urgent marriage, then one or two may be read. This informs the public of the impending marriage and they can bring out the objections if any.
After the first bann is read, on the very same day, the bride is supposed to wear the ‘chuddo’ in her maternal uncle’s house who is supposed to invite her for lunch. The ‘chuddo’ ceremony takes place here where the bangle seller, i.e. the cankonkar comes to the house and fits bangles on the bride’s hands in the accompaniment of ‘zoti’ which are special commemorative songs. The bangles worn are green in colour with yellow lines on them and they symbolise the married life of the bride. Thus, they should not be broken and the bride is not expected to do any housework due to this. The bangle seller is paid some money for his services along with a measure of rice, one coconut, and some bananas.
(This is the first part of the diary and the latter part will continue tomorrow.)
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