Konkani Christians hailing from the district of Mangalore in Karnataka originally hailed from the Portuguese colony of Goa, migrated to Mangalore due to frequent wars and epidemics. Konkani Christians are known for retaining their Hindu customs and traditions even though they follow the Roman Catholic faith. This is because Konkani Christians were originally Hindus who were converted to Christianity by the Portuguese colonists between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Here are some interesting facts about Konkani weddings.
Presence of Indian customs
In a typical Catholic wedding, there are many Christian rituals such as Seven Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, Holy orders, anointing of the sick and Penance. However, Catholic Konkani weddings also have several Indian customs and traditions of Hindu faith.
‘Roce’ ceremony is one of the most important rituals in Konkani weddings which is held on the day before the wedding in Church. The significance of the ritual is that it celebrates the final day of virginity of the bride and the groom. This ceremony involves the use of a mixture of coconut milk and oil to anoint the bride and the groom followed by drawing a cross on the forehead of both the bride and the groom. The bride and the groom are finally bathed in hot water to complete the ceremony. The white coconut milk is symbolic of purity and this ceremony is the celebration of the purity of the couple.
The traditional wedding saree of a Mangalorean bride is known as ‘Sado’. When the saree is worn by the prospective bride at the ‘Roce’ ceremony, it is called ‘Kirgi’ or ‘Kirgi bhaju’. The saree is worn by wrapping around the waist by the girl to signify her virginity. Several Mangalorean girls wear their mother’s wedding saree for the ‘Roce’ ceremony. A cotton blouse called ‘baazu’ is also worn by the would-be bride. The ornaments worn by the Mangalorean girls are often the wedding jewelries of their mothers.
As far as groom’s attire is concerned, in the older times, it consisted of a loincloth also called dhoti, a shawl for the shoulders and a red colored handkerchief tied to the head. The loincloth eventually transformed from a plain one to a white loincloth with gold and red hem. The groom also wears a shirt with gold buttons and coat called ‘kutav’. A towel is tied on the head called ‘Urmal’. This is a traditional dress for grooms in Konkani weddings and is still worn in many traditional wedding ceremonies. However, some modern grooms prefer to wear a suit for the wedding instead of the traditional attire.
The wedding ceremony is in complete order of Catholic wedding rituals in the Church. Mangalorean brides usually wear ‘Sado’ during the Church ceremony as per the tradition. Although gown is not prohibited and even preferred by many brides most of them go by the traditional wear. Grooms usually dress up in English/ European formals, which is changing with time to traditional Indian wears. The Church wedding is similar to any other Catholic wedding ceremony with an exchange of vows, rings, and tying of the thali at the chapel.
Blend of Hindu and Christian Traditions
Mangalorean Catholic weddings feature both traditional Hindu customs such as Roce’ ceremony mirroring Indian Hindu Haldi ritual, in which hot water bath is taken with an anointing of oil and application of pure coconut juice, by the groom/the bride, just like Haldi applied to a couple in Hindu Haldi ceremony. Then, there is the proper Roman Catholic wedding ceremony at the Church.
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