“A civilization is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries.”

Marriages in Kumaon are simple. There is no ostentatious display of wealth. There is no dowry taken or given. Sambandh or the other party’s social standing and family background are very important. This is not linked to their wealth or other such issue.

Marriage is the most important day in any person’s life, irrespective or his religious denomination.

In India, marriage ceremonies are of various types for example Brahma or Dev-Vivah, Gandharv-Vivah, Asur-Vivah and so on. In Kumaon Dev-Vivah or Brahma-Vivah is prevalent. In this form of ceremony the parents and the priest play the central role.

Marriage ceremony in Kumaon is very elaborate affair. The main events which take place are:-

Barpand or Janau It takes place a day earlier in case the boy has not had his Janau earlier. A boy cannot be married without his Janau.


This means that the boy’s parents have given their word and the marriage is fixed.


Unlike in the plains region, on this day the groom’s younger brother brings the engagement ring to the brides place and again unlike the plains he slips it into the bride’s ring finger. He also presents her with jewellery, sweets, clothes, and dry fruits. Similarly the girl’s side also sends the engagement ring and other such things for the groom.


On this day Ganesh puja is done. During the puja, three small cloth pieces are taken in which turmeric pieces, Roli, Supari, Akshat (soaked rice) and coins are put and tied. One each is placed in the kitchen, one on the entrance to the house and the third is tied to the wok/pan which is to be used for making various dishes for the marriage. Later statues of Samdhi&Samdhan (the in-laws) are made by using Til, Rice Flour and Jaggery. These are later put in a small basket and decorated. These are exchanged on the day of marriage. Big Papads (papadums) are made of flour, dried in the sun and later fried. These Papars are called Suwale. These are also exchanged along with sweets on the marriage day. In so far as Rangwali/Pichora is concerned it is a big piece of cloth which is to be used as a Duppata and worn by the bride, her mother and all her female relatives, similarly it is worn by the grooms mother and his female relatives. Yellow cloth is used for rangwali. Small red spots are made on it by using homemade vegetable dyes and later it is dried in the sun. It is made with the help of all female relatives, traditional songs are sung when it is made.


This is celebrated in the morning of the marriage day. Parents of the bride keep fast, puja is done. Later the bridegrooms family bring the Ubtan (which is a mixture of Flour, Turmeric powder, Rye seeds, other traditional herbs and oil) used by the groom for his bath. All female relatives take turns to put this paste of Ubtan on the bride’s body. Later she is given a bath. The groom is also similarly given a traditional bath. The bride is required to keep her hair open. The bride’s father after puja ties a small yellow / pink cloth piece (called Kankan) on the left wrist of the bride. A similar cloth piece is tied on the left wrist of the bride’s mother. Similar piece of cloth is also tied to the groom’s right wrist. The cloth piece contains one whole beetle nut, turmeric piece, coins, Akshat (whole rice) and Roli. These are opened on the fourth day of marriage.

Barat/The Marriage Procession

This is the arrival of the main marriage party. In the grooms house the groom’s mother stands on the main door and blocks it and reminds her son the sacrifices she made in raising him. The groom gives his mother money which is symbolic of the sacrifices she made. His sister in laws and other female relatives decorate his eyes with black Khol. The groom is then put on a horse and given a traditional send off. All female sing typical folk songs meant for this occasions.


Its literal meaning is a ceremony conducted at a time when the cows are returning home. When the marriage party reaches the brides house, the bride’s brother receives him and uses a red umbrella to escort him to the spot where the marriage ceremonies are to take place. The bride’s father washes his feet as also the feet of the Brahmin who has come with the groom’s party. They both are given clothes, watch, jewellery, and money. Later both the Brahmins tell those present, the family history of each side going back seven generations. The female relatives of the bride in the meanwhile sing traditional songs in the back ground.


The literal meaning is ‘giving a girl away’. During this ceremony both parties sit side by side. A small makeshift curtain separates the bride and the broom. The mother puts her Anchal on top the bride and escorts her to the place of the marriage ceremony. Both Brahmins conduct the marriage ceremony by chanting traditional Sanskrit chants. The bride’s father gives his daughter hand to the groom. Later the whole ceremony is finished and the groom puts the red roli on the Mang or hair parting of the bride. The girl is now deemed to have been married. The marriage party leaves for their house before first light. They are given a traditional send-off where all females sing traditional marriage songs.

After marriage the bride returns home to her parents place after two days to a week, depending on the distance. This is called Durgun or Durgaman ceremony. She normally stays for a few days and then returns to her husband’s home. Gradually return home.

Songs form a very important part of most of the ceremonies in Kumaon, more so in a marriage ceremony.