While Goa is the first choice for destination weddings, have you ever wondered what a traditional Goan wedding looks like? Well, to summarise, it is a collection of reunions, traditions, dancing and, of course, delicious Goan food!
If you’ve never attended a Goan wedding, maybe it’s high time you make some Goan friends and bag some of those wedding invitations because the energy at these celebrations is unmatched! Don’t believe me, come witness it for yourself.
Right from unique traditions and flash mobs on the dance floor to the aunties that have flown into town to show off their sequin dresses and flamboyant hats (much like the Queen of England used to adorn herself), the average Goan wedding is an absolute jamboree!
While Goan Catholic weddings are usually three-day affairs with the roce ceremony, the big wedding and the second day (called Portonem), the traditional practices are more than just a few.
Come walk with us as we take you through some of these traditions that have become a part of Goan Catholic weddings.
1. Chuddo ceremony
The chuddo ceremony is a rather colourful and fragile one. One of the first ceremonies to take place, it marks the start of the wedding with a friendly visit from a kakonkar (bangle vendor), who makes his way to the house of the bride and is welcomed by the bridal party and some of their friends and families.
The kakonkar then takes aside a pair of glass bangles for the bride-to-be. The colours of the bangles may vary but usually consist of red, green, white and yellow. These bangles are then kept in front of the altar to seek the blessings of God and the elders of the family.
Most of the times, the other ladies in the room also decide to wear a few of the beautiful bangles. All of this takes place whilst local folk songs are sung in merriment.
2. Bhikrea Jevon
With the word bikari translating to 'poor person', and the word jevon to 'food', this particular tradition is one that brings a sense of fulfilment that comes with charity for the underprivileged.
According to this practice, the wedding party arranges a meal to be served to all the less fortunate as an act of charity in the hope of obtaining blessings for the bridal couple and also as an act of honouring the deceased members of the family and seeking their blessings.
Pronounced as 'dey-neh', denem in simple terms means the things that the bride will be taking to her new home. In this ceremony, the family of the bride displays all the things that the bride will be taking to her husband’s house, be it household items, jewellery or more. They also send a small statue of baby Jesus in her trousseau.
4. Roce ceremony
The word roce in the Konkani language translates to 'juice' that has been squeezed. Ideally, the roce is held a day or two before the day of the wedding and is held separately for the bride and her bridesmaids, and the groom and his groomsmen at their respective houses, in the presence of close family and friends.
Much like the Hindu ceremony of the haldi, with respect to Catholic weddings, the roce ceremony, in simple terms, is drenching the bride, groom and their entourage in freshly squeezed coconut milk.
A total fun fest, the roce ceremony also witnesses people playfully cracking eggs on the heads of the wedding entourage. Most days, it looks as if you are at an 'omelette station', where twenty large eggs are being beaten in a bowl to make a tasty large omelette. But, the reality is that this yellow mixture is going to be poured on the wedding entourage, mercilessly.
This is accompanied by the background music of a traditional musical group of Konkani singers who are invited to sing as each member of the family takes turns in pouring the roce on the wedding entourage.
Once everybody has gotten a chance to do so, the roce ceremony is concluded by serving dinner and drinks. Of course, keeping in mind the saying “every dog has its day” and that someday soon the recipient of the egg today, will wait in silence to return the yellow favour when the time is right.
The big day begins with the nuptials, which are generally held at the parish church, from where the groom's native village/town.
The holy mass is then celebrated and the union of the newlywed couple is sealed by reciting the vows and signing the marriage registers in the presence of the priest and witnesses, after which, the couple is officially declared husband and wife!
Saddo is a red dress which is given to the bride by the family of the groom. The saddo is first seen after the wedding nuptials have ended and the newlywed couple makes their way to the house of the groom.
Upon reaching, the bride is given a gold chain, after which the couple kneels in front of the altar while the prayers are recited. It is at this point that the saddo is placed on the shoulder of the bride as a gift from her new family.
7. Wedding Reception
Does a wedding party even need any explanation? The wedding reception is usually the highlight of the event. With grand decorations, live music, delicious food, great company and dancing the night away, this evening is one that the couple will never forget!
Portonem means to 'return'. This practice takes place the day after the wedding when the newlyweds return to the house of the bride and spend the night there.
Keeping with tradition, the new bride wears a red dress which is stitched using cloth material that is given by the family of the groom and the mother or any of the elders from the bride's household gives their new son-in-law a gold chain. This occasion may not have attendance like the wedding day, except for close family and friends.
Vojem is sent by the family of the bride and is to be distributed to the family, friends and the villagers of the groom's village, as a token of gratitude once the wedding has ended. This tradition of distributing vojem is very old.
While some platters may contain more items, vojem traditionally is a platter of Goan sweets such as bol, doce and a banana.
Weddings always bring around a whirlwind of emotions. To an outsider, the breaking of an egg on the head may look strange or even bizarre, but only a niz goemkar (die-hard Goan) will understand its relevance.
Afterall, these traditions are what set Goan weddings apart from the rest and give the people of this land a very different identity.