Marriage Customs and Traditions of the Gaddi Community in Himachal Pradesh


Marriage is considered to be one of the most significant and sacred occasions in the life of the Gaddi community of Himachal Pradesh. They celebrate it with great enthusiasm and show great togetherness during the event. In this article, we will explore the various customs and traditions associated with the marriage ceremony of the Gaddi community.

System of Marriage

In the Gaddi community, monogamy is practiced, and polyandry is not allowed. Polygamy is only permitted if the first wife is unable to bear children or has passed away. The first wife always holds a higher position than the subsequent ones, and her consent is taken before the second marriage. Marriage ceremonies are held at the bride's home, including rituals such as kanyadaan or sanklap and pradikshna or char lavi (walking around the fire four times), with the bridal knot tied to the bride and groom. The Gaddi community does not allow hypergamy or consanguineous marriages, but they do permit levirate and sororate marriages. Traditionally, child marriages followed by gaona were common, but now adult marriages are preferred, with girls marrying between the ages of 16 to 25 and boys marrying between the ages of 16 to 25 as well.

Pre-Marriage Ceremonies


The Gaddi community believes in early betrothal of their children. They send their family purohit (priest) or relatives who establish communication regarding betrothal, such negotiations are called "RUBAR DEENE OR RUBAR LANE." The parents of the girls sometimes give flat refusal on some reasonable grounds. But, generally, they take some time to know about the boy and his family. If satisfied, on some auspicious day, the betrothal ceremony is fixed, and the boy's father is informed. The boy's father with some close relatives proceeds to the girl's house and they carry the following items, which is called 'Bartan'.

a)Bartan: The bartan consists of (i) Babroos (sweetened loaf) - in a bamboo basket covered with a red shawl or a sheet. (ii) Sweetmeats; (iii) One Roti of Gur; (iv) Dhania (Coriander); and (v) Tika/Sandhoor (Red color).

The Gaddi community recognizes five types of marriages, which are explained below:


The most common type of marriage among Gaddis is Dan Pun, which signifies charity, Dharam, and Punnya. In this type of marriage, Kanyadan takes place, where the bride is given as a Dan to her husband. There is a chain of administrative, religious, and ceremonial customs, rites, and procedures involved in the Dan Pun marriage, which are elaborated under the head of the main marriage ceremonies.


In this type of marriage, the boy gets his partner in exchange for his real or cousin sister, who is married to the wife's brother. This type of marriage is considered inferior to Dan Pun marriage, and the number of such marriages is low in the Gaddi community.


Jhanjrara is a marriage by elopement, mutual understanding, and consent agreement among the relatives. The new husband fixes the date and time for the occasion when a woman elopes with someone. If the new husband is financially well-off, he offers Balloo and ear rings on this occasion. Jhanjrara takes place during the night, and a feast is given. The report of Jhanjrara is given at the local police station or the concerned Panchayat. In case of a married woman contracting such marriage, her former husband files a suit against the new husband and gets compensation (Harja) through local court or bradari Panchayat. The offerings from such marriages have the same rights as widows married in the ordinary way and their offspring.

Sometimes, Jhanjrara is arranged on peaceful and mutual understandings, and in this case, the simple ceremony of 'Dora Langna' is performed in the name of the new husband. No complications are involved, and no feast is given. Remarriage or Jhanjrara with the younger brother of the deceased soldier, if unmarried, is arranged without any complications. In this case, the war widow, though remarried through Jhanjrara, continues to draw her entitled pension, which is a concession provided by the Government. The Civil Courts of the District have always recognized such marriages.


In this type of marriage, the girl elopes with her lover without her parents' consent, and they solemnize the marriage by burning a bushwood and going around the fire eight times hand in hand or with the bride's sheet tied to the boy's girdle. No rituals are performed, and a Purohit does not attend this marriage. Though it is a recognized marriage, elopement is not considered a healthy practice.


This is a rare type of marriage that is not prevalent among Gaddis. In this type of marriage, the boy has to work as a domestic servant in the house of his would-be father-in-law. The duration of the service depends on the prevailing circumstances. In some cases, part-time service is rendered, while in others, the boy has to work seasonally. The boy is never made to work for the bride's relatives, and the duration of work may range from 2 to 8 years, which is compulsory. Marriage takes place only after the boy has retired from the service of the girl's parents. After marriage, the couple stays at the boy's house. This type of service for marriage is accepted and practiced only in exceptional and compelling circumstances.

ALSO READ ABOUT: Himachal Pradesh Reet System

Polyandry Marriage System In Himachal

Himachal Pradesh Marriage Customs

Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce is permitted and can be initiated by the aggrieved party on grounds of infidelity and incompatibility of mature, with socio-judicial approval. A divorcee is compensated by way of returning the marriage expenses. Children are normally the liability of the father in divorce cases, but in the event a divorcee woman wants to take them, she can do so if the divorcee husband also desires the same. Khewat (divorcee remarriage) can, however, take place. Widow marriage is also permitted with either the husband's elder or younger brother, and so is widower remarriage.

The word Divorce does not exist in the history of gaddis. They use the following terms in this respect.

(a) Dua Ghar kari leva ha - Has settled down with a second husband

(b) Chhari ditti - he permitted his wife to settle down with someone else.

(c) Jargati di dethi ha - Has allowed his wife according to some agreement to remarry.

Such cases occur under the following circumstances:

   » In case the husband is suffering from some incurable leperosy.

   » When the husband is found to be impotent.

   » Since the solemnization the husband has been guilty of bestiality (brutish actions)

   » In case of doubt about the faithfulness of husband or wife.

   » When wife elopes with some one.


The Gaddi community has a unique and fascinating marriage customs and traditions. They celebrate the occasion with great enthusiasm and show great togetherness during the event. The system of marriage they follow is monogamous, and they do not practice polyandry. The pre-marriage ceremonies and the marriage ceremony itself are elaborate and beautifully performed. While there are restrictions on marriage, divorce and remarriage are permitted.

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