Indian weddings are full of color and life. A traditional wedding ceremony can last for up to 3-4 days. Colors, dancing and grandeur is all blended seamlessly with culture and heritage. Every ritual is deep rooted with a story or meaning to it. Indians traditions can be classified into pre-wedding rituals, wedding ceremony, and post wedding rituals.
Pre Wedding Rituals
This is the first ceremony that takes place when the bride and groom both consent to the marriage. On the day of the ceremony the groom’s mother visits the bride’s home bearing gifts, clothes, rice and incense. Jewelry can also be added to the shagun brought. Accepting the shagun signifies the bride’s formal consent to be the daughter in law of the family.
Sagaai is the engagement ceremony. This is when the bride and groom exchange rings in front of all their friends and family. The Sagaai is termed to be a lavish affair full of dance and music accompanied by a grand feast.
The Mehndi ritual is the most awaited and is organized by the women of the house. It is event mostly just attended by female guests and is marked with music and dance. The bride’s mother applies a tiny dot on the bride’s small finger and is then followed by a professional mehndi expert drawing intricate designs on the bride’s hands and feet. This is an evening event. Some mothers request that the name of the groom be written in the mehndi design which is then sought out by the groom in the post wedding ritual.
This is when the married couple take seven phera or rounds around the holy fire. Each round signifies the marriage vow. The groom leads during the first four rounds followed by the bride leading the last three.
Post Marriage Rituals
The marriage ceremony has now ended and the newly married couple seeks the blessings from their elders from both families.
The groom and bride now break their fasts by feeding each other a morsel of food.
This event is held in the house of the bride and groom separately. Sangeet consists of fun, music and dance. The bride’s friends playfully tease the bride about her future husband while the elders of the house sing traditional songs.
This is a Tamil Wedding ritual and is conducted a day prior to the wedding. The haldi ceremony consists of the application of turmeric mixed with fragrant extracts of sandalwood and jasmine applied to the bride’s body. It is believed by Hindu traditions that turmeric emits a natural glow by whoever it is applied upon. The bride isn’t permitted to leave the house until the day of the wedding.
The Wedding Ceremony
The wedding day usually starts off with a fast for both the bride and groom. The groom leaves the house with the best man and one of his younger female relatives. Her job is to keep the groom awake as is done by custom. She demands a gift usually in money form from the groom in exchange for letting him attend his wedding ceremony
Before the wedding ceremony a Navgraha puja is performed at the bride and groom’s house in order to seek blessings from the nine planets. This offering is usually performed by the family priest.
This is the wedding procession when the groom arrives with his family usually on a white horse. The barat consists of the grooms family and friends who are accompanied by a dhol band. Friends and relatives dance all throughout the procession.
This ceremony is when the bride’s mother welcomes the groom to the wedding by applying a tilak and rice grains on his forehead. The groom is then lead to a special seat where his mother in law washes his feet. This is followed by the groom giving gifts to the bride’s brother.
After the groom is seated the father of the bride welcomes him to the wedding mandap. The holy fire is lit by the priest who will be performing the ceremony while chanting the Vedic verses that signify the start of the wedding.
Kanyaadaan refers to the father giving away his daughter in marriage. During this ceremony the father gives the bride’s left hand in the groom’s right hand. The groom then promises to protect and love her to the best of his abilities.
The couple offers ablutions of puffed rice to the holy fire.
The bride then stands on a stone slab signifying her entry into married life. This is when the mother usually counsels her daughter about being a good wife and daughter in law.
Go round the holy book 3 times. The lady follows the man. Wedding over when the rounds are completed.