||The Roce Ceremony
On the previous evening of the wedding day, an important ceremony is performed which is called 'roce'Â - a ritual hot water bath taken with anointing of oil and application ofÂ pureÂ coconut juice,Â by the groom/the bride. This signifies the last bath that the bride or the groom will be taking in their bachelorhood/spinsterhood.Â With the ceremony ofÂ 'roce'Â the wedding celebrationÂ really begins. Both bride and bridegroom have to undergo this ceremony in their respective homes. This ceremony also signifies the mother's love towards her son or daughter.Â The guests who come for the roce are warmly welcomed by the hostsÂ âYezmanâ and âYezmaniâ at the main entrance of the âmatovâ (Pendal) saying âpaan-pod udak ailem' ('receive this plate of areca-nut,Â betelÂ leaves, etc., and pot of waterâ).Â The guests acknowledge the welcome and reply :Â âDev BoremÂ Korum,Â yezmanyaâÂ (May God bless you).Â Among the guests,Â those who are in the habit of eating âpaan-podâ (betelÂ leaves and areca nut)Â take the plate in their hands and chew paan-pod.
The wedding âroceâ ceremony was performed in the evening for the bride and evening or on the wedding day morning for the groom.Â If the âroceâ is held in the evening, it implies that there will be a ârosaÂ jevannâ or meal after the ceremony.Â As the wedding celebration was now reduced from - say 10 days to three daysÂ and nowÂ to one day, the main wedding dinner would take place at the groomâs residence.Â Therefore, the brideâs side avails the opportunity of the eveningÂ Â roceÂ so that they can invite their relatives, neighbours, dear ones for the roce ceremony meals.Â TheÂ invitedÂ guests of the bride also would attend the wedding the next day.
The yezmani, usually the fatherÂ of the bride, announces the commencement of the roce. The wife of the yejmaniÂ is called 'yezman'.Â It is not necessary that the parents only act as yezmani or yezman (masters of ceremonies).Â This responsibility can also be given to anyone related to their familyÂ (widowers are excluded).Â Soon after the yezmani announces that roce is to be performed at such and such a time, the bridegroom with his best man (dhedo), and other companions called âmhal dhedeâ usually his own younger brothers, and in case he has no brothers, his younger male cousins, sit on a bench in the centre of the âmatovâ facing the house or house altar.
For the roce ceremony, usually the groom (at his residence )can be seenÂ moving outside in the matov, but the bride usually remains inside herÂ house and will be asked to come out and be seated for the roce ceremony only when it actuallyÂ begins.Â She will be wearing a skirt and blouse ( called âKhirgi bhajuâ) and so will be the brideâs maids, usually a couple of young girls. The groom (voreth or novro) will be wearing a loin cloth called âpudvemâ or a half pant or a âlungiâ and the upper body may or may not be covered with a half sleeved singlet. The same dress code goes for his âdhedes âtoo.
The yezman enters the matov with bowl filled with coconut juice called âapros roceâ in her right hand and a small container with coconut oil and a small spoon in the other hand.Â She places the juice bowl on the floor in front of the groom and stands with the oil container in the hand. Two more aunts of the groom (or sisters) also carry juice bowls (one each) and place them in front of the âdhedesâ seated on either side of the groom.
After this , the roce ceremony begins.Â Firstly, theÂ yezmanÂ dabsÂ her thumb in the oil and makes a sign of the cross on the forehead of the groom,Â followed by each of hisÂ âdhedes â sitting beside him. These actions will be commenced with the singing of appropriate âVOVIYOSâ. Then,Â she will dip the spoon in the oil and drops oil in each of his earsÂ (the groom will have to tilt his head each side for this)Â and then puts 5 drops of oil on his head and rubs oil into his hair. Then she will do the same to others as well.Â Once this ritualÂ is completed,Â she hands the oil container to one of her aids and then comes in front of the groom and by cupping her hands, scoops roce from the bowl and pours oh the grooms head, rubs, then pours roce on his face, hands and even legs and rubs it gently. This process she will continue to the rest of the âdhedesâ seated along with the groom.
The next honour to apply the roce to groomÂ is for the grandÂ mother, god mother, sisters, aunts, relatives (daiji) and neighbours.Â The father, Uncles (both paternal and maternal) join in followed by all those who are present who wish to apply roce.Â Soon after the completion of the roce ceremony, the groom is taken by hand and led to the bathing place.
It is well remembered that in oldenÂ times the voviyos are expressed withÂ sentiments and gave vent to the feelings of the people about the marriage partners and their families - primarily , invoking the blessingsÂ of God on them. The voviyosÂ sung in modernÂ days,Â have been composed a few centuries ago, and someÂ of them may be even older.Â While the anointing is carried out, women whose husbands are still living (also known as âsobagin/sumangaliâ) stand around and sing. The voviyo sung during the anointing is usually started by the yejman.
The Tradition of Voviyo
It is characteristic that the different ceremonies of Mangalorean Catholic weddings are accompanied by songs (voviyos or Limericks) sung by women. The procedure is that one of the women, usually an elderly lady who knows theÂ voviyos in a sequential manner, leads the voviyos,Â while the rest of the women sing âvoveâ and then repeat the last verse. In this way, the younger ladies learn the voviyo and when confident, take the lead and there by continue and carry onÂ the tradition.
It is well remembered that in olden times,Â the wedding songs expressed very lofty sentiments and gave vent to the feelings of the people about the bride and the groom and their families, invoking the blessing of God on them. The tradition was carried byÂ them to Kanara from Goa , when our ancestors fled fromÂ Goa and settled in Kanara,Â in theÂ Kingdom of IkkeriÂ Nayaka dynasty, who welcomed them and allotted land for them for cultivation. Unfortunately many of these songs are now lost and completely forgotten. The few which are preserved and remembered are recited on this roce day and at mangalorean catholic weddings. The verses sung in our days have been composed a few centuries ago, and parts of them may be even older.
While the groom is taking the bath, preparation for the serving of the roce dinner is being made and drinks are served at this time.Â Once the groom and his companions have returned, a short prayer is said for the groom, his family, and for the deceased members of the family etc., and then the dinner is served.Â The dinner,Â if traditional, will be rice, Kuvallo with mutton orÂ Kuvallo with dried baby shrimp called âgalmboâ and a variety of dry vegetable dishes likrÂ âtendlimâ(girkins) with cashew nuts,Â chonno sukho (gram) or Khelen sukhen,Â and the sweet, âvornâ will be servedÂ after the dinner.
To conclude the ceremony, usually the traditional Latin song âLaudateâ is sung.
Courtesy: MAURICE DâMELLO, TORONTO