Tribals in Chotte Udepur villages in Gujarat follow an unusual tradition where marriages take place without the groom’s physical presence and an unmarried sister or unmarried woman of the groom’s family marries the bride representing the groom.
A groom cannot attend his own wedding and his unmarried sister or any unmarried woman from his family should represent him in the ceremonies as the groom.
The groom stays at his own home with his mother, while his sister leads the ‘barat’ (wedding procession) to the bride’s door, marries her and brings her back.
“All the rituals that a groom traditionally does is conducted by his sister.
She takes the ‘mangal phere’ with the bride instead of her brother,” says Kanjibhai Rathwa, local resident, Surkheda village.
“This practice is followed in three villages here; it is believed that if we don’t follow this custom then some harm will befall,” Rathwa says.
It is believed by the locals that whenever people disregarded the practice, they unfortunate events befell them.
According to the folklore, the male deities of the three villages Surkheda, Sanada and Ambal where this custom is followed were bachelors and the villagers in order to show them respect keep their grooms at home, doing so they believe will protect their grooms from harm.