Haldi Kumkum – A Celebration of Womanhood

Haldi Kumkum

The haldi kumkum ritual is an age-old and beautiful tradition that honours womanhood. It is an opportunity for ladies to dress up and mingle with each other, exchange gifts and bond over delectable food and drinks like kari panha or vatli dal. The kumkum or vermilion that is sprinkled on the head and wrists of the women is known to extinguish all negative energy that may be present in one’s life. It also protects against evil eyes and is said to bring good luck.

This is an important ritual in Hinduism, which involves women smearing each other with turmeric and red vermilion powder, while reciting prayers for good luck and a happy married life. It is done just after the Makar Sankranti (New Year) festivities, and it is a symbol of the onset of spring. This ceremony is celebrated in the homes of married women who invite their friends and loved ones over to be smeared with haldi and kumkum.

It is believed that this tradition dates back to the days of the Peshwas when the men were fighting battles for their empire and they would often be stranded at home. The haldi kumkum offered them the chance to do what every woman loves – get dressed up, leave their homes, meet other women and bond with them over delicious food and drink (kairi panha or vatli kumkum in this case). They also got to come away with a little gift that could be used either in the kitchen or for personal adornment.

Haldi Kumkum – A Celebration of Womanhood

Today, the haldi kumkum is more of a party for ladies than a religious function. Women from all walks of life come over to receive the haldi and kumkum, and offer their blessings for their husbands’ long lives. If the occasion is being held in a newly-married woman’s home, she usually welcomes her guests with a special platter of vegetarian savouries and some snacks.

The host of the haldi kumkum makes sure to greet each guest with a smile and a lot of love. She may sprinkle Gulab Jal (rose water) or rose petals on their hands to purify them. Next, she applies haldi and kumkum on each of her guests’ foreheads and their wrists. She also offers them a coconut with betel leaf, nut and money to take as a mark of respect.

Kumkum or sindoor is a colourant made from the powder of the red twigs of the tamarind tree (Mangifera indica) and is typically applied on the parting of the hair above the forehead as a sign of marriage in northern India, and on the wrists as a symbol of fertility in southern India. It is also worn by women as a bindi. It is also thrown into the air along with other mixtures during Holi, the festival of colours, in celebrations.

Today, there are haldi kumkum planners who offer to manage the entire affair, including catering and buying gifts for the ladies. They are becoming quite popular amongst women who wish to add some sparkle and panache to this traditional ceremony without sacrificing any of its meaning or sentiment.

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