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Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Bride and the Ukhaana

She stands in the doorway with the pallu of her sari over her head. She is wearing a nosering studded with pearls and a semi-circular bindi - typical of a Maharashtrian newlywed. Her husband is standing with her. He is smiling.

The women in the house, the distant aunts and cousins are pushing each other to have a look at the new bride. The son's grandmother is guided to the door by one of her granddaughters. The grandmother looks at the new bride and smiles. 

"Ukhaana ghe" ("Recite an ukhana"), the grandmother says playfully, "We'll not let you in without that."

Ukhaana is a typical Maharashtrian tradition where a newlywed/married woman recites a couplet with her husband's name in it. Women recite ukhaanas at marriages and several other occasions. These couplets are the woman's opportunity to display her language skills and also allow her to take her husband's name - something she isn't permitted to do otherwise. So, an ukhana is considered romantically poetic, poetically creative and creatively interesting. And the ukhana-recital tradition starts just after you get married.

(With time, the ukhanaa tradition has changed. These days, the husbands are made to recite an ukhana too.) 

Getting back to the bride waiting to get in.. She smiles and shies away - this happens in all Maharashtrian marriages, yet the brides get their right to do nakhra when asked to recite an ukhaana.

After persuasion (that happens in every marriage. If you start reciting the ukhana immediately after you are asked to, you are perhaps considered outrageous), she recites an ukhaana. 

The new bride topples a vesselful of rice over with the thumb of her right foot. She enters the new house...


  1. :)
    interesting....I don't know how to read this post- are to celebrating the custom or mocking at it...
    but it did bring a smile to me...
    m a person who runs away from practicing traditions and customs..not because I hate them but coz these days the charm has been lost and all of it has become a mere pomp and show stuff...
    but I do beleive that every small cultural gesture, activity, ritual, custom conveys a lot of meaning and history..

  2. No in fact, I find the "Ukhaana" custom very cute and amusing.

    I m dying to recite one in my marriage! :-D

    The intention of the post was only to present different aspects of the tradition -and yes, make the readers smile.

  3. so when are you reciting the ukhana? Have a date in mind :-)?

  4. awful piece of information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend vimal, mumbai,i have read atleast 13 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your blog gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a million once again, Regards, Marathi Ukhane For Bride