Turmeric, known as Haldi in India is the sacred spice recognized for its health, beauty, and spiritual properties. It holds a special place in Indian Hindu weddings and that is quite apparent from the fact that one entire ceremony before the wedding day is named after this golden spice and is called Haldi Ceremony. It’s known by different names in different parts of India, and has varied rituals due to the regional and cultural influences, however this ceremony has one thing in common and that is Haldi, the magical yellow spice. Find out more about this humble spice, its role in Indian wedding, and the properties that back this age old belief.
Rituals play a significant role in Indian wedding. Each and every ritual is backed by a reason that makes it even more special. India is the country having medley of cultures. There are regional and cultural influences found in all these rituals, making Indian wedding a rainbow of colors. Out of different colors that paint the lives of the couple taking wedding vows, the golden yellow color of “Haldi” or turmeric holds a distinct place.
The spice that is used in curries and medicines has been accepted for its beautifying properties as well. It is believed to be auspicious, and it is pleasure to learn that “Hindu” weddings in India have one entire ceremony dedicated to this magical spice, and is called “Haldi Ceremony”. This ceremony is planned one or two days prior to the wedding day.
The cultural significance of this ceremony
Turmeric is found to be loaded with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antiseptic properties. It is a natural healer that heals the person internally and externally. Application of turmeric to bride and groom would heal any kind of skin inflammation while offering them a golden glow. It effectively removes tanning and stress caused during the preparation of wedding.
Turmeric is found to be loaded with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antiseptic properties. It is a natural healer that heals the person internally and externally.
In some cultures, turmeric is considered to be auspicious and it is perceived that application of turmeric cuts all evils. Hence, this ceremony takes place a day before the wedding to ensure that couple glows on their big day! This ceremony is also marked to be the last day for the couple to step out of the house before wedding. In some cultures, bride and groom are not allowed to see each other after this ceremony, while in some other regions this ceremony is celebrated on the wedding day itself. Usually this ritual is held after “Mehndi” ceremony, where design is applied on the palms of the bride and even groom in certain cultures. This auspicious ceremony is called by different names in India like tel baan, ubtan, pithi, gaye holud, and haldi.
Turmeric is considered to be auspicious in some cultures and it is perceived that application of turmeric cuts all evils.
Purification of soul with the shades of yellow – Wedding is the lifelong commitment. It is considered to be the new beginning for the couple. It signifies the beginning of the journey where the couple would walk together in all kinds of life situations. The yellow shade of haldi purifies the souls of the couple entering this bond of love and commitment. In certain cultures, turmeric is applied on the forehead as a dot, called “tikka” or “tilak” in Hindi. This haldi tikka keeps the evil away.
Purifying the surroundings by eliminating evils – This is another belief that holds a strong place. According to the ancient belief system, turmeric removes any bad omen present in the surroundings. Application of turmeric paste to bride and groom before their wedding would purify the surroundings. They will then step out of their homes only for their wedding. This sounds like a superstition, but it holds a lot of significance for the couple’s families.
A distinct way to offer blessings – The ceremony involves all the relatives and friends. While applying the turmeric paste, near and dear ones would also shower their blessings. Some paste is also applied for fun to the young siblings and cousins eligible for wedding, as it signifies that they are next in the line. All these beliefs make this ceremony full of fun and add unforgettable memories.
Turmeric is added to many skin creams because of its beautifying properties. Its use in the ceremony is intended to bring the golden glow for the big day. Skin radiance is one of the most beautiful outcomes of this ceremony.
Ice breaker before the actual ceremony – Bride or groom may feel nervous about their big day. Some may feel stressed about facing so many people together and being part of various rituals. This ceremony works as an ice breaker. It establishes an instant connect amongst the entire family. Anti-oxidant rich turmeric will remove the stress by nourishing the senses. The smell and nourishment would remove stress from face, cure headache, and bring instant glow.
Radiant skin – Turmeric is added to many skin creams because of its beautifying properties. Its use in the ceremony is intended to bring the golden glow for the big day. Skin radiance is one of the most beautiful outcomes of this ceremony. This is tangible benefit of the ceremony and bride-to-be looks forward to this ceremony for this one major reason. Some skin problems like acne and pimple are also treated.
Turmeric paste is recommended for glowing skin and can be applied as a part of weekly routine. This paste can be a simple mix of dry turmeric powder, milk cream, and chickpea flour. However, the paste for the special day needs to be special too. Below is the process of making turmeric paste for wedding ceremony –
- Mix turmeric powder or fresh turmeric paste with rose water.
- Add sandalwood powder. It is recommended to use fresh paste made by grinding a small piece of sandalwood on a stone.
- Now mix properly.
This being an auspicious ceremony, one must use a new bowl to present this paste. In certain cultures, turmeric paste for bride comes from groom’s house. They apply some amount of paste to the groom and rest is sent to the bride’s house to apply it to the bride. Mango tree leaves are used to apply this paste on feet, knees, arms, shoulder, and face. The paste once applied is left for some time and then removed with gentle scrubbing.
Rituals during the ceremony
Songs specially meant for the ceremony are available in all cultures where this ceremony takes place. Ladies of the family sing these songs while applying the paste. The bride or groom would sit on the stool so that it is easy to apply the paste on feet and other parts of the body. The ceremony starts with a puja and then followed by the haldi application.
The yellow shade of haldi purifies the souls of the couple entering this bond of love and commitment. In certain cultures, turmeric is applied on the forehead as a dot, called “tikka” or “tilak” in Hindi.
Haldi Ceremony Attire
Yellow is the color for the day and hence all members try to follow the code. Indian traditional outfits that are yellow in color would be good to grace the occasion. If not all, at least bride must wear yellow dress for the ceremony.
Light jewelry is preferred. Bride may decorate her hair with fresh flowers. The whole idea is to dress up simple, natural, and pure. Natural beauty is truly reflected in simplicity. Yellow saree and flower jewelry add the purity to entire dressing. In certain cultures, outfit and jewelry for the ceremony are sent by the groom’s family. Often in the melee of applying turmeric paste, one might stain their dress, so preferably do not wear your finest clothes during this ceremony!
Haldi ceremony also has historic significance and according to the mythology, this ceremony was celebrated even in Lord Shiva’s wedding with Goddess Parvati. This spice has been accepted for its health and beauty properties since ages.
In Bengali culture, this ceremony is known as Gaye Holud. The groom’s family, except the groom, visits the bride’s home with gifts, jewelry, wedding dress, turmeric paste (Holud), and henna. They would apply this paste to bride. The same thing happens at groom’s place where the bride’s family would visit for the ceremony.
Marwari culture observes this ceremony by the name Tel Baan. There are seven ingredients like turmeric, mustard seeds, oil, curd, salt, henna, and vermillion placed in seven clay bowls. Married couples would apply all of the above ingredients to bride and groom by dipping grass in each bowl. The process of application from bottom to top is called Tel Chadana and later on the same day or next day the process is repeated seven times from top to bottom, this is known as Tel Uttarna.
The ceremony in Gujarat is called pithi. It takes place on the wedding day or the day before. Ladies of the family prepare the turmeric paste and apply liberally to bride and groom. The ceremony takes place separately for bride and groom at their respective homes.
In Maharashtrian culture, it is called Halad Chadawat. The function takes place a day before the wedding day. In some cases, it is planned on the wedding day before ceremonial bathing. The turmeric paste left after applying to groom is then applied to bride.
India is a country of rich culture and rituals. Each culture has many sub-cultures having their own rituals for different occasions. It becomes difficult to know them all, but at the base of all cultures, stays the ancient Indian beliefs and that make these rituals aligned with each other. Haldi ceremony also has historic significance and according to the mythology, this ceremony was celebrated even in Lord Shiva’s wedding with Goddess Parvati. This spice has been accepted for its health and beauty properties since ages. However, researchers are now coming up with advanced products developed from turmeric curcumin to make its versatile benefits available the world over.
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