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A wedding procession with the bridegroom on a horse, Pushkar, Rajasthan

A Hindu wedding procession, baraat, with the bridegroom on a horse, lead by a brass band, Pushkar, Rajasthan.

Baraat (Hindi: बारात) is Hindi for a marriage procession. In north Indian communities it is customary for the bridegroom to travel to the bride's house on a horse, accompanied by his family members. This often becomes a huge 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 term "baraati" is also used to describe any invitee from the groom's side. Traditionally, baraatis are pampered extensively by the bride's family.

The baraat headed by a display of fireworks, accompanied by the rhythm of the dholak or melam, reaches the meeting point, where the elders of both the families meet and welcome the groom with garlands and aarati.

The Rajput baraat

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 horse, carry swords. The horse is important for the Rajputs.

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