Christian Wedding in India
Christian Wedding in India
Hola!!!! Thanks for sneaking in to read my blog on Christian Weddings in India. I’m Vedika Dursheti – A makeup artist by profession. I’m very passionate about the different cultures in India, but I think with moving lifestyles people are forgetting their roots.
My blog series will introduce you to various rituals & customs in Indian Weddings and its relevance in our lives. There are various reasons why these customs were established in the first place and why do our ancestors follow them traditionally.
Whenever we think of a Christian wedding, we think of flowers and flowing white gowns. But India has definitely tinted the Indian Christians and the way they are now getting married. There are majorly three areas where Christians are densely situated in India, one being South India, the and the other being Coastal lines and the North India.
Matches are generally arranged within the specific denominations of Christianity that either the Bride or the Groom belong to. For example Roman Catholics will prefer a match with a Roman Catholic family and not a Protestant, Presbyterian or Lutheran Christian. Once a preferred match is settled, the families meet and if everyone is satisfied, then the talks proceed.
Very often than not, there is a courtship period, where the Bride and the Groom get to know each other. If they find each other compatible, then formal proposal happens, mostly from the Groom’s side. In some cultures in south India, this moment is sealed with discussion of dowry and presenting each other with Betel leaves and a Betel nut. The ceremony is known as ‘badalchen’. Below is the detailed view of all the different events that are conducted in order to conclude a Christian Marriage in India.
The engagement is perhaps the most important pre-wedding event in a Christian wedding. After a formal proposal comes from the Groom’s side, a date is set for the Engagement Ceremony. It may be a somber and small affair with just close friends and relatives participating, or it may be a gala bash where acquaintances are invited for a fun-filled exciting evening.
Traditionally, the Groom presents a Ring to the Bride and he places it on her Left Ring Finger. This ritual symbolizes the betrothal of the Bride to the Groom. The Rings have to be blessed by the Priest either at the Church or at the Engagement venue. Nowadays, the Bride also offers a ring to the Groom which he wears on his Right Hand Ring Finger. The Groom also gifts his Bride with other gifts such as clothes, perfumes, handkerchiefs etc. The two families mingle with each other at a party following the ritual. The engagement is generally followed by a courtship period before the actual wedding date is fixed. The engagement is also announced at local churches and sometimes in the local newspapers also.
Following the engagement, the Bride’s relatives throw her a bridal shower. Mostly young cousins and friends of the Bride decide on a day and take the Bride out for a merry night. They often host a party where they play a number of games, shower the Bride with gifts that she might find useful in her upcoming conjugal life and encourage her to sing and dance to her heart’s content. It is a tradition for the Bride to have a pink cake served to her companions where she has hidden a silver thimble.
The friend of the girl who is served the piece of cake with the thimble is believed to be the next one getting married. It is the day where the Bride gets to do all her favorite things with her girlfriends before she enters into a deeply committed relationship and a life of putting others’ happiness before her own. Nowadays, destination bridal showers are in vogue where the Bride’s friends whisk her away from the wedding venue to a beach or on a road trip for her to fully savor her carefree moments. While the Bridal Shower is happening with all the bells and whistles, the men would also be gearing up for something special which is the “Bachelor party”.
A similar event to the Bridal shower is arranged for the Groom by his male friends and cousins. Although, it is purely western concept, it is gradually gaining popularity in India. It generally takes place a day before the wedding. The concept is for the Groom to enjoy his last day as a bachelor. It may be but not necessarily a party where women are strictly not allowed and men of the family strengthen their male bonding. It is becoming more and more popular to arrange for an away trip for the bachelor in weeks prior to the wedding.
Typical favorites include going for some adventure sport like hiking, climbing or trekking. For the typical adrenaline junkies, there is bungee jumping, skydiving, surfing or even diving. In other instances the group might go to a beach house and enjoy a few days of sun and surf away from the wedding buzz. Fishing or a trip to the groom’s favorite vineyard is also some great option to entertain the Groom before he gets hitched. After all the partying is done by both the Bride & Grooms end, both the families get ready for the Big event which is “The Wedding”.
This is sort of an anointing ceremony that takes place in some of the Indian Christian communities like that from Goa or Konkan. It is similar to the Haldi ceremony of the Hindu weddings and takes place on the eve of the wedding day. It involves the Bride and Groom taking a ritualistic bath in their respective homes. The Bride/Groom is anointed with oil, where the participants, generally relatives, dip their forefingers in the oil and perform the sign of the cross on the forehead of the Bride/Groom.
Oil drops are poured on ears and on the head, followed by Coconut Juice or Roce which is rubbed on the head, face, hands and feet. After this, the Bride/Groom is bathed with water. The whole ceremony is followed by a Roce prayer and then dinner with drinks. Once done with the event the Bride & Groom will be then all set for the Wedding Day. Usually Wedding would the very next day post Roce Ceremony.
On the morning of the wedding day, female relatives of the groom visit the bride’s home with her bridal outfits, some jewelry, trays of dry fruits, sweets and fruits. The priest then blesses the Bridal dress before it is handed over to the Bride. The Bride gets ready in her house and sets off for the Church in a car sent by the Groom with some of her friends, generally bridesmaids followed by her family.
She is then received at the church by the Groom’s family and is escorted into the church by the Groom’s best man. The best man of the Groom will escort the Bride into the Church Hall while the relatives and friends from either sides of the families wait for Bride to come in. Once the Bride arrives, the Wedding Mass commences.
Preceding the actual wedding ceremony, a wedding mass is held in most Indian Christian weddings especially in Roman Catholic orders. During the mass, prayers and hymns are performed by the priest. The program starts with an opening prayer which the guests can join in. Following the opening prayer, the Bible is read both from the New as well as the Old Testament.
The verse is chosen by the priest but the reading can be done by a member of the Bride or Groom’s family. Next part of the program is singing the Psalm, either by the guests or the church soloist. This is followed by the priest rendering the sermons. Once this is done, the both the Bride and Groom will be ready to take their Wedding Vows.
The Wedding Vows
After completion of the wedding mass, the priest starts the actual marriage rituals by uttering the Opening remarks where he gives a short speech about virtues of marriage and in some cases about the Bride and Groom. The Bride and Groom then are asked to utter the vows of marriage. In India, the vows are mostly decided by the priest and the couple just utters them after him.
They essentially promise each other that they will be by each other’s side through all phases of life till death do them part. Once the vows are done, the Priest, then will go ahead and ask the Groom to Solemnize the Wedding by tying the Thali around Brides Neck.
Solemnizing of Marriage
The marriage is solemnized by first exchanging wedding rings. These are mostly simple gold wedding bands that are placed on the left hand ring finger of both the Bride and Groom. Among South Indians, there is an additional custom where the Groom ties a Thali around the Bride’s neck. Thali is essentially akin to the Mangalsutra, having a leaf-shaped pendant with the symbol of the cross embedded on it, which is strung on a gold chain.
The Matrakodi or the Wedding Saree is handed over by the Groom to the Bride, which she has to wear over her head. Next the Bride and Groom are blessed by the Priest and declared Husband and Wife. They hold hand together and march down from the dais to seek blessings from the Elders and Family followed by best wishes from Friends and Relatives.
After completion of the wedding ceremony, the couple exits the church amid excited cheering and showering of confetti by the guests. The newlywed couple, along with all the invitees, moves to a banquet hall to attend the wedding reception. Here, there is usually a wedding feast and the guests propose toast to the couple’s well-being. There may or may not be speeches from the best man and maid of honor, but there is always cutting of the wedding cake by the Bride and Groom who feed each other the first two pieces before it is distributed among the guests.
Sometimes, there is a live band or DJ present to encourage the guests to dance. This concludes the Traditional Indian Christian Wedding. Seems like a complete joy of life right!!!! If you think there needs to be more exciting stuff to explore, then what are you waiting for, please scroll down to see the Traditional Christian Wedding Attire and it’s accompanying Jewelry.
Contrary to popular concept, the Bride does not always wear a white frothy gown. Most Indian Christian communities in the south, prefer Sarees as wedding attires instead of a Gown apart from the Goa and Konkani Christians who prefer wearing gowns than Sarees. Sarees are generally silk ones with heavy gold zari threadwork paired often with a gold brocade blouse. These Sarees can be white or gold or beige in color. Kerala Christian brides often wear the simple white Kasavu Sarees with broad golden borders paired with white or golden blouse. They may or may not pair it with a veil. The beautifully pleated Sarees are paired with gold and often diamond jewelry. If the bride chooses to wear dresses, then they wear dresses made from silk, satin or taffeta with crochet work, paired with a long white veil. The veil is often pinned to the head where the bride mostly sports an up do with a tiara. The Bride generally carries a bridal bouquet which may be fully white or may have colorful flowers in them. Similar to the Bride, the Bridesmaids may wear Sarees or Dresses in different colors that are mostly not white. Their outfits are generally color coordinated to set off the bridal outfit beautifully.
So now that you got a brief idea of which dress to choose for your upcoming Big Day. Scroll down to know about the Traditional “Wedding Jewelry” for a Indian Christian Wedding.
Christian Jewelry depends a lot on the region & the type of dress a Bride chooses to wear. South Indian Christian Brides usually choose to wear gold ornaments when opting for a silk colored Saree. Christian brides normally pair diamond jewelry with the White Gowns. Below are few references which might help you in choosing the type of Jewelry you want to wear on the Special Day.
This concludes my blog on “Christian Wedding in India”. Hope you liked it. You may also be interested in few of my other blogs as well. If Yes, then please go ahead and click on the button below to find all my blogs. Happy Reading!!!!