Keeping up with traditions

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ANNOUSHKA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

A wedding is a joyous occasion that unites two people and two families. In Goa, the wedding season gets into full swing from November onwards. And while couples today keep up with new wedding trends for their celebrations, the age old interesting customs and traditions continue to occupy a dominant place in the festivities.

Before the knot

Among the many traditions involved in Goan Catholic weddings are the chudo (bangle ceremony), roce, bicareanchem jevonn, among others. The chudo ceremony takes place at least three days before the wedding. As part of this ceremony, a local bangle vendor is invited to the bride’s home and the maternal uncle and aunt place the bangles on her hand. “Brides from North Goa wear green bangles while South Goan brides wear green, yellow and red bangles,” says Janet Fernandes from Colvale. These bangles represent married life, and if the husband passes away, the bangles are to be broken over the coffin. “The North Goan brides have to wear their bangles until they attend another person’s wedding, while South Goan wedding change into red bangles after the porthopon,” says Janet, adding, “Sometimes brides take the bangles off within a week.”

“Most of these ceremonies are age old, so I do not know its significance but when it’s done it’s very exciting to be a part of it,” says Janice Fernandes from Siolim, who recently got married.

Echoing a similar statement is Maisie Travasso from Mapusa, who says: “These traditions kickstart the celebration and make you feel like you’re getting married. It’s nice to see your entire family get together even though the purpose is unknown to me.”

The roce ceremony, meanwhile takes place a day prior to the wedding. In some instances, the ceremony is held two days in advance. Besides the main wedding celebration the roce ceremony is looked forward to by most. In this ceremony, which is held in both the bride and groom’s house separately, the relatives come together and apply a mixture of coconut milk on the bride and groom. The coconut milk is extracted from grated coconut which is done by the women in the family.

“Coconut milk is considered as a conditioner for the hair and it also nourishes the skin hence is used for roce on both, the bride and the groom to help them achieve the wedding glow,” says Afra Fernandes from Merces.

The roce is applied to the bridemaids and groomsmen too. “The roce is a tradition which signifies the end of your single life. It is very meaningful and is also incredibly messy. It begins with a simple coconut milk being applied by the elders. However, nowadays youngsters mix in disgusting things like eggs, toothpaste, vinegar and ice, which make your eyes burn and send shivers down your spine,” says Jessica Da Costa from Candolim adding: “My bridesmaids and I took hours to wash that off.”

Although traditionally held at the homes of the couple to be married, today, families have also taken to hiring halls separately to hold the ceremony.

In order to honour the dead relatives of the family, a ‘bicareanchem jevonn’ is held by the family of the couple in which beggars are served rice and given some money in order to thank the ancestors for their blessings.

The wedding

The wedding morning is filled with excitement and jitters for the bride and the groom as the whole entourage along with the families are hustling to get things done on time while the makeup artist arrives to help the bride look her best along with her bridesmaids.

“I wanted to look like a princess for my wedding and with the help of my makeup artist I was able to achieve that, she helped me understand what look would go best with my gown and since my gown had glitter she suggested a shimmery look which went perfectly with my gown,” says Janice.

Before proceeding to the church the bride and the groom are blessed by their relatives. The wedding ceremony takes place in the church where the bride and the groom along with their entourage and families are welcomed into the church by the priest. The couple is blessed at the entrance and walk in together towards the altar.

“I was very nervous for the ceremony, but everything went accordingly. I was mainly nervous about fumbling while saying the vows. Listening to my husband say the vows was a very sweet moment to me after which the church bells rang added to the magic of the moment,” says Janice.

After the ceremony where the couple is pronounced husband and wife, they head to the grooms home for prayers and blessings where the groom’s mother presents the bride with a gold chain and a ‘saddo’ which is a red dress/saree.

The couple then head to the reception to cut the wedding cake, followed by the couple’s first dance, a toast and a whole lot of merriment.

Post wedding

But the festivities do not end! A day after the wedding ceremony is the ‘apovnem’ or ‘porthopon’ wherein the bride’s family invites the groom and his family into their home. The parents of the bride along with the family members go to the gate to receive the newlyweds, accompanied to the tunes of traditional Goan mandos. The bride is dressed in the ‘saddo.’ The couple is taken into the house and a small prayer is said for their well-being. On that night, the groom stays over at the bride’s parent’s house.

“To me the porthopon is like a mini wedding at home, where we return home and cut the cake followed by another first dance as a couple at home, where the entourage joins us followed by dinner and drinks,” says Janice.

After the porthopon ceremony the bride wearing a red outfit along with gold jewellery is dropped to her husband’s place along with the bridal trousseau and the ‘vojem’ which consists of Goan sweets that are to be distributed among the family and neighbours.