What is a Baraat?

Video courtesy of Avec Lumière Productions

A Baraat is the groom’s procession into the wedding ceremony. The procession signifies an age-old tradition of the groom who would travel an average of five to seven days to his bride to be home. Nowadays, the baraat is condensed to up to an hour of dancing and celebration. This is everything you need to know about a baraat. 

How does the groom arrive? The answer to this question has endless possibilities. Grooms take great pride in his choice of transportation. We have seen everything from helicopters, yachts, exotic cars and of course elephants from time to time. The most common way to arrive is by horse. The horse will be adorned to match the groom. The groom wants to make a statement when he arrives to impress brides family and it will set the tone for the baraat. Basically, expect the unexpected.

 

 

Who arrives at the baraat with the groom? You may notice that groom has a young boy at his side. This could be a younger brother, nephew or even a cousin. The formal name is Sarbala (associate groom). He is the grooms protector and plays a very important role. In past the procession would go to the bride’s village carrying gold and valuable gifts. An attack of robbers was a common occurrence. The Sarbala assured the safety of the Groom.

Are there any traditions that occur during the baraat? Yes, there are smaller rituals that occur so pay close attention to the grooms entrance. You may notice an auntie placing a small black dot on the grooms cheek. Some believe this black dot will remove all evil eyes. The formal name is drusti bottu. If the groom arrives on a horse. You will see the horse being fed grains. It’s good luck to feed all things that are part of the universe and for the horse to bring the groom to the wedding safely.

I’m a groomsman. What’s my role at the baraat? Grromsmen are selected very wisely by the groom. He understands his deeper connection to each of the men that surround him. You and the other men will lead the celebration in dance and raise the spirits of the group. So you have a very important role alongside of the groom.

How long is the baraat? The celebration is usually scheduled for the hour leading up to the ceremony. This is the official start of the wedding day. So, don’t be late; you don’t want to miss any of the festivities. 

I’m a guest at an Indian wedding. Can I join the baraat? The groom’s side usually attends the baraat. Keep in mind; this celebration represents the groom traveling to the bride’s home. But, if you have love for the groom and on the brides side. We are sure that the grooms side will embrace you with open arms.   

Will his family and groomsmen be there? Absolutely. They will lead the celebration. His parents, closest cousins, aunties, and uncles and all his friends will all be there to celebrate. 

Is there a special way to dance? Yes, dance like no one is watching. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you want to walk away with stories to tell. But, we will say, if there is a good DJ or MC. They give you some quick dance tips to help you shake those hips and put those hands in the air.

Will there be music to dance to? In India, the most common way to travel is with a live band and men holding lanterns to help guide the way during the night. In the US and abroad, it’s more common to see a DJ with a mobile set-up. Dhol player/s may also be leading the procession.

What’s a dhol player? A dhol is a double-sided drum. The drum usually hangs over the shoulder of the player in a baraat. He or she uses two wooden sticks. The stick is used to play the bass side of the instrument. The thicker of the two, and is bent in an eighth- or quarter-circular arc on the end that strikes the instrument. A good dhol player will play tot he beat of the DJ’s music and really bring the party to life. 

What’s happens after? The procession will lead you directly into the next ceremony, the Milni. You can read all about the Milni in our next post.

* TIP FOR THE MEN ON WHAT TO WEAR TO THE BARAAT: If you plan on dancing and depending on the humidity and heat of the day. Consider either bringing an extra shirt or use a dryfit top under your shirt. You will sweat! You do not want to sit through a long wedding ceremony sweaty.

About the video contributor Avec Lumière Productions

Avec Lumière Productions was formed after founder Duc A. Nguyen was asked to be a part of the video crew for Supermodel Coco Rocha’s wedding in Paris in 2011. Duc was Assistant Director and Chief Video Editor of Asia Entertainment, a musical production company that caters to over 12 million viewers worldwide. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Films at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California.

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