HALDI KUNKOO in California

  • By Mona Vijaykar
  • December 4, 2023
  • Personal experiences of Indian women in California celebrating Haldi Kunkoo together with lovely pictures.

Indian culture is so rich and diverse that one can spend a lifetime discovering age old, fun traditions.


Many social customs offered women a break from their domestic chores to meet friends, indulge their vanity and feel pampered.


We were invited to a ‘Haldi Kunkoo’ which is usually done in celebration of something or as gratitude for personal fulfilment. This time it coincided with the American Thanksgiving so we all felt it could well be a “Thanksgiving meal”.


Every state in India has its version of these women-centric events. Most of us are familiar with the more popular ‘Karva chauth’ in the North but last weekend I felt most privileged to attend a ‘Haldi-Kunkoo’, the Maharashtrian hen-party, hosted by my awesome friend, Ashatai,  and her equally admirable daughter in law, Mohana. 


The ladies turned up in their gorgeous Marathi avatars, complete with ‘naths’ (nose-rings) and Paithanis (special saris).

Typical Marathi ishtyle. Paithani sari at shop in Paithan i.e. near Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar.

As with every Hindu gathering, there is a spiritual element, a subtle reminder of *our* Divine Presence as mentioned in the scriptures, “Atithi Devo Bhava” (The Guest is God incarnate).

On this occasion, however, each of us was received as the many forms of The Goddess with symbolic honor…our feet duly washed with milk; we were offered arti (the sacred flame); showered with rice; purifying turmeric (Haldi) and oxidized turmeric (Kunkoo, for a healthy uterus) applied on our foreheads; fragrant sandalwood paste to soften weary hands; aromatic herbal powders to enhance the experience; flowers to adorn our hair; and some spiced milk and sweets as appetizers.

This thali (taat) holds some of the things that were offered to us .. mainly the Halad and Kunkoo (turmeric and oxidized turmeric), sandalwood paste etc.Paay Dhuni (washing the feat with sacred milk).

Needless to say this was hardly a solemn ceremony, with a room full of amused “Goddesses” talking over one another! The elaborate ritual concluded with a most elegant and delicious multi course traditional vegetarian meal, served in silver plates (taats).

Multi-course vegetarian meal in silver plates.  

The meal commenced with a short prayer of thanks. This is one Thanksgiving meal I shall never forget, not only for its uniqueness but for the love and devotion that was poured into it, leaving our hearts brimming with gratitude!

Enjoying the meal. 


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