From a bird’s eye point of view, weddings have few standard elements without which the event seems to be incomplete – there is the bride, coy and radiating happiness, there is the groom, confident and so much in love with his partner and then there are the respective families all set to see the couple tie the knot. The varied cultures around the world make sure that no one wedding is similar to the other. In India alone, the Smritis state that there are about 8 forms of Hindu marriage, which are chalk and cheese in terms of their ceremonies. However, the wedding shenanigans across the world have one thing in common – they indulge in a lot of rituals keeping the bride’s and the groom’s shoes in focus.
Ever wondered how the world uses shoes as an integral part of their wedding vows? No? Read on.
Egypt: Many moons ago, somewhere in Egypt, the shoe ritual was followed wherein the father of the bride removed her shoes and gave it to the groom. The shoes were regarded as a symbol of authority and this ritual suggested the transfer of authority of the bride from her father to her husband. The groom used to tap the shoe on the head of the bride and this act was taken to be the official acceptance of the groom’s duties towards his wife.
England: Remember Christian weddings where the shoes are tied at the back of the car of the newlywed couple? Well, it is not an American concept as largely perceived. Back in the Tudor period, (specifically in England and Whales), the guests used to throw shoes at the bride and the groom as a blessing and a gesture of good luck (who said weddings are easy). It is believed that since violence was punishable, the shoes were tied at the back of the car. The tradition was taken on by the Americans later.
Greece: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Then, why not do what the Greek community is known for? Meaning, putting the groom-to-be at work while the bride enjoys her solitude. The ancient Greek wedding ritual expected the groom to buy a new pair of wedding shoes to the bride. In it, the groom rolls a bundle of money and asks someone to deliver the shoes or he himself goes and hands them over to his partner. The money bundle, however, stays in even as the bride wears those shoes on her wedding day.
Turkey: The most fascinating and amusing ritual so far, the bridesmaids in Turkey are asked to write messages or their names on the sole of the bride’s shoes before the wedding ceremonies. After the final dance, the bride announces the name of the bridesmaid whose writing has not faded away. This bridesmaid is assumed to get married next! The Turkish brides definitely have ways to know things.
China: The Chinese community includes a lot of red color in their holy rituals. Marriage being one of them, it is hardly a surprise that red shoes are a part of a Chinese wedding. According to the legend, there are few communities in China which throw a pair of red wedding shoes on the house of the couple on their wedding night to dispel fertility and blessings.
Germany: Even before the girl is engaged, she is expected to collect pennies so that she can buy wedding shoes with them. This tradition is known as Hochzeit –Schuhe and the German brides continue the tradition by collecting pennies on the day of their wedding.
While we still do a thumka or two while watching Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Salman Khan’s nok-jhok on the song ‘Joote do paise lo’, we can hardly get over the fantastic ritual of joota chupai. From forming a strategy on how to steal your jiju’s jootas to discovering a place to hide them somewhere in the Bermuda triangle or Thar desert, we have done it all. Moreover, the groom uses the traditional antique mojaris which makes the stealing guilt-free!