The arrival of the groom on his pristine white steed is one of the most extravagant parts of a wedding in India. Followed mostly in North India, the “baarat” is the wedding procession that escorts the groom to the wedding venue. Traditionally, the groom arrives on a horse, but this has been adapted over time to include elephants or decorated cars, even helicopters and bikes in some weddings.
Walking alongside the groom, family and friends form part of the “baarati”. This also includes a horde of musicians, dancers and “dhol” players that keep up the rhythm and energy of the baarat. In olden times, the groom and his family had to travel to reach the bride’s home/village for the wedding. Their arrival would be hosted by the entire village and celebrated with great pomp and show (Also referred to as Jaana Vasam or Maaplai Azhaippu in South Indian weddings). Thus, baraats also developed into symbolizing the wealth of the groom and his standing in the society. As the baarat moves slowly, money is showered to signify the affluence of the groom and his family.
The groom is received at the wedding venue by the bride’s family. The entire baarat is welcomed in with a garland, tilak on the forehead and an Aarti done by the bride’s mother. This is generally followed by the Jaimaala in North Indian weddings.