What is a Roce Ceremony?
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Marriage is considered one of the biggest events in one's life. Specially in India, the diversity of culture has brought about a variety of rituals prior to the actual ceremony. Since India is a country with Hindu majority, the 'Mehndi’ ceremony before the wedding is quite common all over. Christians on the other hand are a minority. The equivalent of a 'Mehndi’ is a ‘Roce’. I have been brought up with a Konkani speaking Christian background from Mangalore. Considering how Mangalorean culture is very similar to the Goan, I was excited to attend a ‘Roce’ in Goa.
Coconuts are bountiful along the coast. This has resulted in its use in the local cuisine. From curries to desserts, the coconut is one of the primary essences of the ancestral traditions. Roce is prepared by first grating the white portion, pouring some warm water so the flakes release its juices. The mixture is poured into a muslin and the coconut milk(Roce) is squeezed out.
Roce is applied/poured on the bride/groom a few days before the wedding as a sign of washing away the sins and purifying the soul for marriage. Traditionally it is believed as a ceremony to bless the person on their last day of virginity. The bride/groom and bridesmaids/groomsmen are seated in front of the gathering. A big container with roce is placed in front. There's a little basket placed beside the container. This basket is filled with money by the attendees as they proceed to apply Roce.
The ceremony begins with the close family praying over the bride/groom. Typically a Bible verse followed by specific prayers and ends with the whole gathering singing a common hymn. First the parents apply the Roce followed by close relatives and finally the rest of the gathering queue up for the same. Once the clothes soak up the Roce, things start getting uncomfortable. The cold clothes sticking to the body and coco-nutty scent all around. To add to that, the friends and close cousins of the bride/groom take this to the next level. To begin with, the remaining roce in the container is poured on the head of the bride in one go. After the entourage has left the stage, the nasty fun comes into picture.
I've witnessed a number of other things been poured and smeared all over the Entourage such as smashed eggs, cold beer, curds, ketchup and milk. This is one opportunity to pick on them without having to fear of a counter attack. It is quite a scene to watch the whole ordeal take place.
Starters served were French Fries, Fried Chicken, Gobi (Cauliflower) Manchuri and Veg Spring Rolls. The dinner spread-out at this Roce had
1- Raitha (Curd and cucumber), 2- Russian salad, 3- cabbage salad, 4- Sannas (fluffy rice cakes), 5- Chicken Biriyani,6- Veg Pulav, 7- Mixed Vegetable Curry, 8- Mutton Xacuti (Goan Curry), for main course. At the end of the buffet table was 9- Doss and 10- Vonn which are both local Goan Sweets.
I recommend you to get yourself invited to a Roce and experience the fun first hand. Goans and Mangaloreans typically get married from November to mid February. The roce function is where there is usually no formality or decorum as compared to the wedding. If the family has a big enough backyard it is held at the residence. As space isn't abundant, the invitees are fewer than the wedding.