The Culture of Gujarat is both ancient and modern.
Gujarati engagement ceremony
In many Gujarati communities, the engagement ceremony is known as Gol Dhana (in Gujarati script, ગોળ-ધાણા),which literally means “Jaggery and Coriander seeds” and refers to the practice of distributing a small amount of jaggery mixed with coriander seeds.
Marriage is a highly auspicious occasion in Indian culture. According to the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures, marriage is a sacred lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. It is considered to be the strongest of all social bonds and is the initiation into a lifetime of togetherness.
The Vedic wedding ceremony consists of prayers, invocations, and vows recited in Sanskrit, the most ancient surviving language. The Vedic wedding ceremony dates back to over five thousand years and is performed under a decorated canopy, the mandap. The four pillars that surround the mandap represent the parents of the bride and groom. This signifies the important part they have played in raising their children to become the responsible adults they are today. The ceremony is performed before a sacred fire, or agniaa, which is the eternal witness of the marriage and all vows taken.
Parts of the ceremony
Every Hindu ceremony begins with the worship of Lord Ganesh, deity of peace and wisdom. This is done so people can find strength within themselves to remove any obstacles that may arise.
Baraat (Wedding Procession)
The original form of a baraat is a procession from the groom’s house to the bride’s house for the wedding ceremony. The wedding day begins with the Mangal Vadya, the playing of Shehnai (a traditional wind instrument) and Dhol (Indian drum).
Swagatam (Welcoming the groom and his family)
The groom and his family are greeted at the doors of the mandir (temple) by the bride’s parents and family. The mother of the bride then greets and welcomes the groom and his family into her own family. She blesses the groom by placing a tilak (red dot) on his forehead. The groom is then led to the mandap where the wedding ceremony will take place.
Ganesh Puja (The worship of Lord Ganesh)
Madhuparka (Welcoming the groom)
While the groom is sitting under the mandap the madhuparka is performed where his feet are washed by the bride’s parents. He is then offered panchamrut, a drink composed of milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, and sugar.
Kanyaa Daan (Giving away of the daughter)
The bride accepts her change of status from an unmarried woman to a wife by spreading turmeric powder on her hands. Kanya Daan is performed by the father (or uncle of guardian) of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding.
The bride and the groom face each other, and the priest ties their garments (the bride’s saree to the groom’s shirt) in a knot, symbolizing the sacred union. The bride and the groom garland each other and exchange the rings. Next the nuptial fire, symbolizing the divine witness, and the sanctifier of the sacrament, is installed and worshipped.
Both the bride and the groom grasp their hands together and pray to God for His blessings. Samagree, consisting of crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice, ghee (clarified butter), and twigs is offered into the sacred fire to seek God’s blessings for the couple.
Mangal Phera (Circumambulation of the sacred fire)
The groom holds the bride by the hand and both walk three times around the sacred fire. Both offer oblations and recite appropriate Vedic hymns to Gods for prosperity, good fortune, and conjugal fidelity. They touch each other’s heart and pray for union of their hearts and minds.
Saptapadi (Seven sacred steps)
This is the most important rite of the entire ceremony. Here the bride and the groom take seven steps together around the sacred fire (Agni) and make the following seven promises to each other: As per the Vedic rituals, the groom sings “With God as our guide, let us take”:
1. The first step to nourish each other
2. The second step to grow together in strength
3. The third step to preserve our wealth
4. The fourth step to share our joys and sorrows
5. The fifth step to care for our children
6. The sixth step to be together forever
7. The seventh step to remain lifelong friends
8. The perfect halves to make a perfect whole!
The Satapadi ceremony concludes with a prayer that the union is indissoluble. At the end of this ceremony, the groom and the bride become husband and wife.
The Mangal Sutra Dharana is the tying of the thread containing the marks of the Vishnu or Shiva on the neck of the bride by the groom.
Suhaag or Sindhoordana
The groom places sindoor (red powder) on the bride’s hair symbolizing her as a married woman.
Aashirvaad (Blessing) The groom’s parents bless the couple and offer clothes or flower to the bride, symbolizing her joining the groom’s family. All those assembled at the ceremony shower flowers on the couple and bless them completing the marriage.
Dandiya Raas is a romantic, very energetic, colorful and playful dance originating in the state of Gujarat. Its roots lay from the days of Lord Krishna who played raas on the shores of Yamuna river on a moonlit night with his beloved Gopis.
Men and women dressed in colorful clothes dance in two concentric circles – one moving clockwise, one moving counter-clockwise. Men and women carry two bamboo sticks called dandiyas in their hands. In addition to footwork, one of the most enjoyable part of this dance is the creative use of dandiyas.
The song sung on the occasion is essentially an amorous one. Raas is a very playful dance providing opportunity for acting and exchanging messages through eye contact. It is no wonder that many romances bloom during Navaratri and hence the popularity of the dance among the younger generation.
Garba is a very graceful form of dance mainly performed by females in a circular formation, it is in reverences of goddess Ambaji. The basics of the dance are singing and clapping rhythmically while going around the goddess. Today many modifications are prevalent to the basic pattern and even men are free to join in. Women are dressed in exquisitely embroidered, set in mirrors cholis, ghaghras and bandhani dupattas! Extensive jewelry in the form of necklaces, bracelets and anklets are also worn. The typical dress code of men is kehediyu, chudidar and a turban.
Originally men used to perform this dance. It was on the way back from a battle that the victorious army would start dancing to couplets and amorous songs sung by the Charanswar, or the narrators who used to go to the front to raise the spirit during the battle by singing songs of valor. The dance was characteristic for its forceful movements which would fascinate viewers. Today, however, even females participate in the dance.
It is performed by a rural community living around NalLake. In it, performers simulate the rhythmic movements of roving mariners and the undulating sea waves. The Bhil tribes, who live close to border tracts, and the Adivasis of Dangs district, have particularly lively folk dances.
Gujarati cinema celebrated its 75th year anniversary in 2007. Although Gujarati cinema has not given the Indian movie house the honor and joy the Bengali and Malayalam films have provided, it has its own share of glory.
Gujarati film started its journey in 1922 and during its run since then to this day it has much to state. From mythology to history, social to political, Gujarati cinema has experimented with such stories and issues all these years.
A special mention should be made on the film Guasundari which was thrice made from 1927 to 1948. The film was such a success in its first appearance in 1927, that director Chandulal Shah remade it in 1934. The film was again remade in 1948 by Ratilal Hemchand Punater. In its last version Hindi films’ eternal Mother Nirupa Roy made her debut as its heroine.
Gunasundari is the story of an Indian poor woman who is disliked by her husband for her moral stand. The woman finally lands in the street where she meets with a person who is just like her – a social outcast. The story ends here. The three versions of the film, however, have made some changes here and there to meet the demands of the time.
In a filmdom which was theatrical and melodramatic and often shunned by the audience, Akhand Saubhagyabati, that starred Bollywood queen Asha Parekh, made a success in 1963. Asha also has immense contribution to Gujarati television serial making. Her TV production ‘Jyoti’ was a household show for a long time. About recent Gujarati films, Suresh M Thakkar’s Sajan Haiye Sambhre, Gormano Var Kesariyo and Dikro Kahu Ke are huge hits.
Gujarat has immense contribution to the Bollywood in the form of sending actors and actresses of fame to make the base of Hindi films. Much of Bollywood rest on the performance of these Gujarati film men and women.
The list of such film personalities is scintilating. It includes Parveen Babi, Sanjay Leela Banshali, Manmohan Desai, Ismail Darbar, Sanjay Gadhvi, Kalyanji Anandji, Deepika Chikhalia, Bindu Desai, Dimple Kapadia, Ben Kingsley, Sanjeev Kumar, Ketan Mehta, Tina Munim, Namitha, Neelam, Asha Parekh, Amisha Patel, Upen Patel, Falguni Pathak, Paresh Rawal, Himesh Reshammiya, Nirupa Roy, Mallika Sarabhai, Shruti Seth, Satish Shah, Farooq Shaikh, Shravan, Ayesha Takia, Alka Yagnik, Deven Bhojani, Prachi Desai, Sanjida Shek, Ketaki Dave, jaikishan, Ashrani.
Gujarat is inhabited by people belonging to varied castes, religions and communities. Due to that, a number of varied languages are spoken in the state. The official language of the state is Gujarati. It is an Indo-Aryan language derived from Sanskrit. Gujarati is the 26th-most widely spoken language in the world. In addition, it has eleven dialects, spoken in different parts of the state.
Gujarat shares its borders with the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Therefore, there is a small population which speaks the respective languages of the different states also, namely Marwari, Hindi, and Marathi. Apart from this, Urdu and Sindhi are also spoken in Gujarat. Kachchh is one of the important areas in the state. It has an independent identity and is growing popular among tourists. The mother tongue of the people of Kutch is Kachchi. It is an important language of the region.
Another part of Gujarat is Saurashtra, which is also referred as West Gujarat or Kathiyawad. The mother tongue of this people is Kathiyawadi Gujarati which is spoken in seven different districts in Saurashtra. Rajkot is the financial capital of Saurashtra. Saurashtra is also known for giving many saints and great men like Mahatma Gandhi. Young population migrated to different cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara due to employment problems.