Whenever I attend any wedding I always over hear the female members of the bride’s side discussing how they will steal the groom’s shoes and where would they hide it. The plans and made, tasks are distributed, and then comes the execution of one of the most enjoyable tradition of any Indian wedding. Recently, I even saw the bride helping her cousins in the task and groom side playing smart by keeping a backup pair. Well, this just a tradition but many might also say a source of income for the female members of the bride’s side.
Yes, as per the tradition the groom’s side has to pay the demanded sum of money to get his shoes back. Indian weddings are filled with such little games and traditions that simply aims to create a lighthearted and fun atmosphere between the families of the bride and the groom, and in return helps them to bond over a special occasion or you can say a good hearty laughter. Many of you might ask what the actual name of the custom is as many call it Joota Chori, well the actual name is Joota Chupai.
According to the custom the sisters, friends and other female relatives of the bride’s side steal the shoes of the groom as soon as he takes them off for the wedding ritual at the mandap. The groom’s shoes are then well-hidden inside the inconspicuous baskets of flowers or may be behind tables sometimes even under the car seats but in my sister’s wedding we gave it to the bride and she kept it with herself all the while. Once the shoes are stolen, the female members of the groom’s side have lost their chance to safeguard the shoes and the mischievous yet fun filled game of hide-and-seek begins but nowadays they play smart by keeping a backup pair ready. This complete process, right from the moment the groom takes off his shoes to the time the bargaining for the shoes is done, is known as the Joota Chupai custom.
The shoes are only returned to the groom once the wedding ceremony is over, but it is only done after a suitable monetary negotiation has been extracted by the bride’s side female members from the groom’s family. In the meanwhile, the groom’s family tries to thwart the bargaining by trying to snatch the shoes from the bride’s family by poking jokes at them.
Weddings in Bollywood has always being portrayed with a larger than life effect. The look and feel has always been straight out of a fairy tale. This very effect has always governed the wedding dreams of any girl. The rituals too are portrayed with a lot of pomp and show. But when we think about the ‘Joota Chupai’ ritual the only Bollywood magic that crosses our mind is Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan’s jovial yet teasing romantic iconic song ‘jootay de do paise le lo’. The whole song which is based on this simple fun filled ritual explains the fun and also some of the complexities of emotions that come into play during this game of hide and seek. With the groom’s footwear being the focal point. Well, the grooms nowadays do opt for stylish shoes other than those traditional ‘Nagrais’ just to make an impression on his bride.
Well, in real life there may not be song and dance but the fun, the teasing, those funny jokes are definitely there. After all the stress that a wedding puts on both the family this little ritual does help to release it. All those light-hearted banter and that heady excitement of this unique game helps to create a sense of familiarity and affection between the two families, making this beautiful game a very meaningful aspect of an Indian wedding.
The bargaining that the families get into to get back the shoes, helps to lay the foundation of compromise and tact, while the groom’s generosity and willingness to pay whatever his sister in laws demand for reflects his respect and affection towards his bride’s peers and also her family. It also reflects the acceptance and bonding of both the families towards each other along with their willingness to share a lifetime of laughter and fun together.
We all might have heard the saying “A family that laughs together, stays together”. This ritual gives both the families a chance at that. Earlier it used to be said that the bride’s family has to accept all the conditions that the groom’s family lay down but this ritual was the only way that the bride’s family could over power the groom’s family. But in the recent times, this is not the case as the groom’s family do not demand anything rather the cost of the wedding is also distributed among the two families but yet this game gives both the families to connect with each other on a fun filled note. Thus, making this ‘Joota Chupai’ game or ritual whatever you want to call it a very important part of any Indian wedding.
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