What is the importance of the Roka and Sagai ceremonies?
When Then two families agree that the young man should marry the young lady, the very next step is to perform the roka or rokna ceremony. The literal translation of the word rok is to stop or halt, and the word rokna means to ban, prohibit, prevent or hinder. In order to publicly ban a further search for a suitable match by either family, the roka ceremony is performed.
It is a simple ceremony where the girl's family may present a token gift in cash or kind, along with some sweets to the young man. Similarly, his family reciprocates this gesture. In some families, the two may exchange rings. The ceremony may be conducted between the two families, and announced amongst relatives and friends.
As for sagai, the literal translation is betrothal ceremony. It is a formal contract between the two families and more elaborate than the earlier ceremony. A Brahmin priest may conduct the ceremony. He first directs a prayer to Lord Ganesh followed by a prayer to the Navgrah, or nine planets: The prayer to Lord Ganesh seeks blessings so that there may be no obstacles. The prayer to the Navgrah seeks their blessings and benevolence. The young lady's brother then applies tilak on the young man's forehead and gives him sweets and gifts. Initially, jaggery (brown unrefined sugar) was given at the ceremony. With time, jaggery has been replaced by sweets. Gifts are given to the young man and relatives.
The young man's family presents clothes to the young lady. In some families, jewellery is also presented. The relatives of the young man may present gifts in cash or kind to the young lady. The ceremony completed, refreshments are served to all those present. A date for the wedding may be announced.