What is a Milni?
In an Indian wedding, often guest and close family members get overwhelmed by the sheer number of intimate family members of another side. "Milni" is the introduction and welcoming ceremony among many Indian Traditional wedding functions which establish a common meeting ground.
Milni occurs on the wedding day before the actual marriage. Guests are already dressed up in their finery and take this as the perfect excuse for a photo session. Wedding venues usually have photo corners and elevated stages setup for bride and groom, which may become a backdrop of Milni ceremony to gather attention.
In a typical Milni, male relatives of both sides meet and greet each other as per their customs. Bride's nana meets Groom's nana, Bride's chacha meets Groom's chacha and so on. This ceremony is often accompanied by exchanging of gifts, cash and clothes.
Importance of Milni: What our Ancestors may have thought ?
Typical Indian Families of olden times were large kutumb (Big family) where all the relatives were close-knitted. Marriage was celebrated with a large number of family members and close friends on both the bride and groom's side. Such a large gathering can leave some people without introductions and strangers to each other when the purpose of the marriage invitation was supposed to be a mingling of both sides.
Milni Ceremony resolved this concern! The corresponding close family members of both bride and groom sides came together and exchanged tokens of greetings.
It was an intellectual tradition having deep meaning. This could also be the reason why most of the wedding ceremonies were spread over 5-7 days, where people could mingle as much as possible.
Indian weddings of different states have different rituals, wedding attires and even food menu. However, Milni Ceremony is present in many Indian ethnic groups with different names and timings, but the intention behind milni is similar. Usually, only men participate in this, although nowadays women have also started taking part in this ritual. Modern marriages have enhanced Milni ritual according to everyone's pocket and society expectations. Some exchange Gold chains, silver coins and other jewelled gifts.
How the Milni ceremony has become lavish today!
Celebrity marriages, movies and television portrayal, have set royal and extravagance as a new standard in the eyes of viewers. In reel lives, families who are surviving 'hand to mouth', also wear intricately designed clothes and give jewellery to Ladkawalas. People have lost the touch of reality and the essence of traditions due to the extravagant portrayal by Bollywood celebrities and TV shows.
As the family monetary status increases, so does the expenses on guests welcome. A destination wedding in a different country can also be considered as a part of the Milni ceremony, as all the closed family relations will be travelling, mingling and celebrating in a secluded environment. Branded clothes, cash, gold and Diamond jewellery are some of the gifts exchanged during lavish Milni, where a flower garland, heartfelt wishes and a hug could have been sufficing.
As the dowry system has begun to diminish, extravagance during wedding ceremonies has increased simultaneously. Milni is one of the traditions affected by this trend. People may not be giving explicit dowry, and the grooms family does not ask for it explicitly. However, it is still "talk of the marriage fixing" that how much money brides family will spend in the wedding. What type of gifts will be exchanged between families during different ceremonies? It is silently understood that it is an endowment, not a dowry. Brides parents will be giving these expensive gifts of their free will.
Milni in Era of Millennials
It is high time that youth take some responsibilities of their weddings and maintain the meaning and intention behind rituals. It is important to sow seeds of acceptance, humility and joyful environment during weddings. Millennials will remember happy experiences and will spread photos of togetherness.