In most cultures, weddings are cherished – they mark one of the most important days in a couple’s life. Virtually all weddings, those of chubby African women, Latino women, among others, are bright, colorful ceremonies. If you have been invited to your first Indian wedding or you have a thing for Indian women you may want to know a few traditions and customs about Indian weddings. They are known for their traditions, grandeur, colors, grace, and the nearly carnival-like celebration.
Indian weddings are divided into three parts: Pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding.
Indian wedding ceremonies begin several days before the main wedding with a ceremony known as Misri. During Misri, the couple exchange gold rings, flower garlands, and prayers. Traditionally, the parents of the groom present a basket of gifts to the bride, which comprises a rock of sugar (misri) to signify sweetness in the couple’s marriage life.
Part of the pre-wedding is the Sangeet and Mehedi ceremonies. Both ceremonies can either be combined or held separately. Sangeet party involves the families of the wedding couple coming together for song and dance. The Mehendi ceremony is held one day before the actual wedding, and it is a women-only event. The ceremony involves drawing complex patterns on the women’s hands and legs with Mehendi (henna). The designs signify a strong bond between the marrying couples.
The Wedding Day
On the morning of the wedding day, a ceremony known as the Haldi is held. It involves the families of the wedding couple spreading a mixture of turmeric, water, and oil over the clothes and skin of the marrying couple. It is believed to be a way of blessing the couple and also plays a role in moisturizing their skin before the wedding.
Traditionally, Indian weddings are held under a Mandap. It is a four-pillared canopy decorated with bright colors. The four pillars represent the four parents of the marrying couples. Once a Mandap has been constructed, the bride’s mother and the groom meet there before the ceremony begins where the soon-to-be mother-in-law washes the groom’s feet and offers him milk.
The ceremony starts with the arrival of the groom. He arrives on a white horse surrounded by singing and dancing friends and family members. Upon descending from the horse, he is greeted by the family of the bride who also presents him with gifts. He is then led to the Mandap by elders. Before taking his seat at the Mandap, the groom must remove his shoes.
The bride is then escorted to the Mandap by his uncle. The marrying couple then places a floral garland on each other’s neck to signify acceptance of one another. Once the priest has declared the marriage official, it is time to celebrate! Families and friends of the newlywed couple proceed to the reception where they dance to bhangra – a traditional Indian folk dance.
The following day both families meet for a meal. It is at this meeting that the groom’s family officially invite and accept the bride to their family. The groom pledges his support to the bride and promises to provide her with clothing and food.
Indian weddings may seem complicated and somewhat overwhelming if you are not familiar with the traditions. However, the whole ceremony is focused on love and tying together the families of the marrying couple together.