Indian weddings are renowned for their intricate wedding customs and traditions which make the events truly unique. Many of traditions are derived from their history, with purposeful cultural symbolism. Meaningful events, actions and items are incorporated the entirely throughout these weddings, from the engagement to pre-wedding activities to the ceremony to the party, not one component lacks cultural significance.
Wedding Dress – Men
Indian weddings are incredibly unique in that they can range from five minutes to several days – depending on the region people are from. One of the most important aspects of these weddings is the dress. Grooms wear traditional Sherwani or dhoti or opt for a Western suit; in certain regions their face is can be veiled with a sehra.
Wedding Dress – Women
The bride almost always wears red and never wears white. In Indian culture, red symbolizes purity and is associated with the most revered goddesses in Hindu mythology – Durga, white symbolizes widowhood. People from the Southern and Eastern states usually wear a Sari, however, northern and central states wear a lehenga (decorated skirt-blouse and veil).
Before the actual wedding, a special engagement ceremony usually takes place where the bride and groom to be exchange rings and their families give each other sweets and gifts. Many Indian people believe it is bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other not only on the day of the wedding, but also a few days before the ceremony takes place. There is a ceremony before the wedding for the bride and groom called the Mandap Muhurat. This is where they attend separate parties and their relatives apply turmeric to their skin. Finally, before the wedding, the bride undergoes the bridal Mehendi at her own home. Mehendi is where she receives the elaborate henna paintings on her hands, wrists, palm, arms, legs and feet we are all familiar with.
The most important part of an Indian the wedding is called the Saptapadi (which means seven steps). This is when the bride and groom exchange their vows in the presence of a sacred fire. The bride and groom circle the fire three times, each with a special significance. After the first time, they exchange the vows and legally become husband and wife. After the third and last turn around the fire, the groom presents the bride with a silver ring as a token of his love for her. In some regions, instead of taking seven steps together the bride touches seven beetlenuts or stones with her right toe.
The Var Mala ceremony is when the bride and groom exchange flower garlands as symbols of their mutual love. This ceremony also shows that the bride has officially accepted the groom as her husband.
Also during the wedding, parents of the bride use milk and water to wash the feet of the bride and groom to symbolize that they have been purified before starting their new lives as one. During the ceremony, the bride and groom hold rice, oats and leaves to symbolize happiness, health and prosperity
The end of the wedding is a sad time for the bride’s relatives. Traditionally, brides are supposed to permanently “break-off” their relations with their blood relatives to join their husband’s family.
Not only are Indian weddings full of color, flowers and many different components, the symbolism throughout all of the different events absolutely makes these weddings one of a kind. What is your favorite tradition in an Indian wedding?