oti bharan

Oti Bharan

As the lunar month of Shravan commences, we see an array of festivities for married women, called Suvasinis. The term means “the one who brings good fortune to the house”. One of the primary activities they carry out in this season is the Oti Bharan. It holds great importance in Hinduism, especially in Maharashtra. May it be a marriage, baby shower, christening ceremony, a daughter leaving for her husband’s house, or a married woman invited for a festive lunch, the Oti Bharan takes place without fail.

The main purpose behind this is the passing on of good wishes for childbearing from one married woman to another. In Marathi, the oti stands for the lower abdomen, the womb itself. When performing the ritual, the giver transfers the material from a makeshift sack of her own sari to the receiver’s lap or dupatta, and pours handfuls of rice thrice or five times. She blesses the receiving suvasini to carry forward her lineage, and be given the gift of motherhood. This ritual is never performed for unmarried maidens or widowed women.

Along with haldi-kunkum, uncooked rice, a betel nut (supari), a coconut, betel leaves, hair garlands/flowers are the main ingredients. Sometimes, we may see the inclusion of fruits and coins/money.

When performing the ceremony, haldi and Kunkum is applied to the suvasini’s forehead with the help of the finger next to the little finger, supported by the thumb. The pigments signify her married status and can be inferred as a prayer for her husband’s longevity. The rice is symbolic of sanctity, fertility and abundance.

The supari is just as essential to the ceremony. It is called the varshaayu phal or perennial fruit because of the time it takes to ripen. It is nourished with the qualities of all three seasons, and withstands the weather due to its innate strength. Hence it is a signifier of constancy, persistence and a strong bond. In Oti Bharan, it brings a meaning of completeness.

Along with the betel nut, an unpeeled coconut is also included. The coconut is called Shreefal, and the tree is a Kalpavruksh. Per the scriptures, a tree which is useful through its each part is categorized as a Kalpavruksh. A fruit so hard from the exterior and soft on the inside is nothing less of a miracle. It is symbolic of a nourishing womb.

These two are presented on two betel leaves. Betel, or Areca leaves are used due to their healing properties over the Tridoshas (Vaata-pitta-kafa). They are given to wish good health upon the receiver.
Apart from this, some like to include bananas, apples, pears or similar fruits. All fruits are symbolic of wholeness. A tree bearing fruits is compared with a woman’s ability of childbearing, and hence gifting her with a fruit is to wish that her womb may bear fruit of child soon. The flowers or garlands keep her headspace happy through their sweet smell.

Giving money in envelopes is quite a modern practice. Previously, as a form of clothing, a blouse piece was kept. But today we prefer to find our own matching sets, hence the cash serves as a replacement.

Oti Bharan holds importance until the woman has menstruation cycles. But it is also done afterward to wish her good motherhood and married life. Both the giver and the receiver must be married women.

The scriptures allow a woman to perform the ritual for her mother only during the time of Adhik-maas. Usually, the mother does Oti Bharan for her daughter when she is leaving for her in-laws’ house but the reverse is possible only in this period. It is to express the wish to be born from her womb in the next birth. However, she must never perform Oti Bharan for her mother-in-law. This is because she has passed on the fruit of her love in the care of her daughter-in-law, and Oti Bharan would symbolize returning it.


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