Baraat (Hindi: बरात) (Urdu: برات) is a bridegroom's wedding procession in North India and Pakistan. In North Indian communities, it is customary for the bridegroom to travel to the wedding venue (often the bride's house) on a mare, accompanied by his family members.
The baraat can become a large procession, with its own band, dancers, and budget. The groom and his horse are covered in finery and do not usually take part in the dancing and singing; that is left to the "baraatis" or people accompanying the procession. The groom usually carries a sword. The term baraati is also more generically used to describe any invitee from the groom's side. Traditionally, baraatis are attended to as guests of the bride's family.
The baraat, headed by a display of fireworks and accompanied by the rhythm of the dhol, reaches the meeting point, where the elders of both the families meet. In North Indian Hindu weddings, the groom is greeted with garlands and aarti. In traditional North Indian weddings, baraats are welcomed at the wedding venue with the sound of shehnais, which are considered auspicious at weddings by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike.
Both men and women participate in the procession of a Punjabi baraat. Close male relatives of both the bride and groom always wear turbans, which indicates honor. When the baraat arrives at the wedding venue, a ceremony known as the milni (literally, meeting or merger) is carried out, in which equivalent relatives from the groom and bride's sides greet each other. This usually begins with the two fathers, followed by the two mothers, then the siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins; even distant relatives are included in the milni, which symbolizes the unification of the two clans.
A Rajput baraat consists entirely of male members. The bridegroom is usually dressed in a gold achkan, with an orange turban and a churidar or jodhpurs with jootis. The baraat members also must wear achkans or sherwanis with jodhpurs and safas (colorful turbans). The procession to the bride's house looks rather regal as there is absolutely no dancing on the streets by the baraatis. In fact, all members, including the groom who rides an elephant or a female horse, carry swords. The horse is important for the Rajputs. The Milni
A simple ceremony takes place and both families exchange well wishes on meeting each other. This is followed by light snacks and tea before the religious ceremony begins.
A mother & daughter enjoy the moment. One by one designated family members exchange garlands and a hug.
The groom distributes Karah Prashad (ceremonial sacremental pudding) to his family.
Everyone then enjoys a grand feast.
- "The marriage parties", The Hindu, 2009-07-03, retrieved 2010-06-17, "... bands are routinely hired for the baraat — a tradition in India where the groom rides a decorated horse to the wedding ceremony, accompanied by relatives and friends dancing to the music of the band ..."
- Iftikhar Haider Malik (2006), Culture and customs of Pakistan, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-313-33126-X, "... The groom comes back again with a procession (baraat) and at this time the bride finally departs with him ..."
- K. N. Pandita, Kumar Suresh Singh, Sukh Dev Singh Charak, Baqr Raza Rizvi (2003), Jammu & Kashmir (Volume 25 of People of India: State Series), Anthropological Survey of India, ISBN 81-7304-118-0, "... the groom ... mare carrying a sword. The sehra ceremony ..."
- Mark-Anthony Falzon (2004), Cosmopolitan connections: the Sindhi diaspora, 1860-2000, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-14008-5, "... the shehnai (a wind instrument widely used by musicians at weddings and such auspicious occasions) ..."
- Sir Paulias Matane, M.L. Ahuja (2004), India: a splendour in cultural diversity, Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., ISBN 81-261-1837-7, "... When the marriage party reaches the bride's place, it is welcomed with milni ceremony (hugging of nearest relatives on a one-to-one basis ..."
- Murray J. Leaf (2009), Human Organizations and Social Theory: Pragmatism, Pluralism, and Adaptation, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-03424-4, "... the very first ceremony of the entire sequence, the entry of the groom's party into the village of the bride. The name of the ceremony in Punjabi is milni ... term comes from the verb melna, which means both "to unite" and "to concur" ..."