Marriage customs of the Santals: A large mural created by village artists to express their cultural identity – West Bengal


Marriage Reception

A Santal marriage takes five days and involves various, often complex, rituals. On the day of the Gidi-chumara (Marriage Reception) the women arrive to bless the bride and groom with grass and grains of rice which are kept in a basket. The high wooden turmeric crusher called akhur (on the right) indicates that tumeric powder is used to soak the wedding dress in turmeric water to clean it and purify it ritually. The clothes of bride and groom are being tied together as a sign of their oneness.

The centre of the courtyard where some of the marriage rituals take place is called Mandwa. There, a branch of the Mahua, the blackberry, the mango or the Sal tree is planted. It is believed that benevolent spirits dwell in these trees. Two earthen pots are placed on either side of the branch. These pots are filled with water and carried along by two unmarried girls of the village. They are meant to remind the bride of her friendship with the village people. A man is playing the marriage drum, behind him is a man with an ordinary drum.

Source: Santals Celebrate the Seasons published by Ashadullapur Gramin Silpa & Sastha Bidhan Kendra and Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust © 2014

Learn more about this unique project, view the entire series of photographs or download the eBook here: Six Murals by Sanyasi Lohar and his team >

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