Overview Of an Indian Wedding
Overview Of an Indian Wedding

Marriage is one of the most important events in anyone’s life. It is coming together of two people, and two families. In the Indian tradition, the importance of the weddings can be made out from the fact that a number of rituals are performed to accomplish it. Marriages in India are performed with utmost care considering the ancient practices.

India is a highly diversified country, which calls to various different rituals depending upon religion, cast, community, or personal preferences. Though the feeling behind all the weddings is the same, yet you will find differences in rituals, ceremonies and traditions in different parts of India. Marriage is a lifetime affair, which is celebrated just once. As a result, it becomes an event to be cherished and to make fond memories for the rest of the life. The Bride & Groom are considered as the royalty of the event. It is the most anticipated moment in everyone’s life as they eagerly wait to meet their better half. Wedding is therefore an highly awaited day in life of an unmarried individual. This is very much evident in the wedding preparations, which are done best according to one’s own capacity. Be it wedding dress, jewelry , make up, decoration or arrangement, everything should be just perfect for this dream to come true.

India has a majority of four religions namely Hindus, Islamises, Sikhs and Christians. In these, Hindus comprise of 80% of the total population of India because it has various sub-castes which signifies their majority. Hindu community is majorly made up of Marathi community, Marwari community, Gujarati community, Bengali community, Telugu community, Kannada community, Tamil Community & Malyalam Community. Though there may be diversified cultures and religions in India, you can always find similarities in the rituals and events that are followed during Marriages. Below are the few Rituals or Events that are common in all Religions.

Engagement Ceremony

This is the first ritual conducted in any religion. It is a pre-wedding ritual. In this ceremony the Bride to be and the Groom to be come together formally with their families. In Ancient India it traces the history of “Vagdanaam” where the groom’s parents promises the bride’s parents, that they will accept their daughter as their daughter in law & will be responsible for her future good. Exchanging of rings is not mandatory in all cultures across the country, but it definitely is a formal announcement of the wedding. In southern India, the engagement starts with Ganesh pooja in temples, they exchange various accessories in presence of priests chanting mantras to signify this betrothal.

In Islam Engagement is termed as Mangni, Christians term it as Engagement, Kashmiri pandits term it as Kasamdry, Himachalis term it as Roka or Thaka, Punjabis term it as Kurmai or Shagan, Hariyanvi Jaats term it Sagaai, Marwaris term it Mudha tika, Rajputs term it as Tilak, Gujaratis term it Gor Dhana, Biharis term it as Cheka, Marathis term it as Sakhar Puda, Bengalis term it Ashirbaad, Telugus term it as Varapuja or Kanya Nishchayam, Tamils term it as Nichayathartham, Kannadas term it as Nischay Tamulam, In north east India Engagement is commonly termed as Hejiapot. The terms might be different but the definition remains the same. This is followed by “Haldi Ceremony”.

Sangeet CEREMONY

The Sangeet is traditionally a fixture in most north Indian weddings. Recently this culture is a feature in various other religions as well. It is an exciting and fun filled event for both the families to let loose and get to know each other well. During Sangeet, the families comes together to celebrate the act of two young hearts coming together, relatives dance and enjoy in beats on religious folk music or now regional music. The women of the house will prepare the bride for her wifely duties through simple songs.

Music overall plays a very important role in Sangeet – Some folk music is always played during various rituals in a wedding. In maharastrian wedding women sing wedding folk songs named “owi” while they have a traditional orchestra of Tabla and Tutari. Christians sings songs like when I say I do & love never fails on violins and guitars. Marwadis and Punjabi sing folk dance on Sarangi, Dholki and ektara. Panjabis have major folk dances on dhols on weddings. In south India Nadaswaram & Thavil are prominently played during weddings. Shenahi being common in all the wedding music. By this time, the Ice Breaking between both the families will be done & people from both the families start contacting each other to exchange their thoughts & views about upcoming important events.

Haldi CEREMONY

Haldi Ceremony is a pretty common ritual in all religions. A sticky paste is prepared using haldi & oil traditionally. Other popular name for Haldi ceremony are Ubtan, Tel Baan & Mandha. Now the paste is made my mixing Haldi (Spice: Turmeric), Rose water, Milk, Oil(Mustard oil), Almond Powder, Sandalwood Powder, and lemon juice. Grass strands are used to mix this mixture and apply it on the skin of both bride and the groom. It is said that bright sunny colour is very auspicious for the couple that are all set to begin a new chapter of their life together. This paste is also applied to unmarried friends and siblings for their good luck in terms of marriage. It is believed traditionally that Haldi ceremony prevents the couple from being affected by an evil’s eye (buri nazar).

Other than good luck and glow, this ceremony also signifies the first physical proximity between the new couple, it is said to be an anti-depressant that works as magic to ease the nervousness of the Bride and Groom. Some North-Indian Christians do follow the same ritual under the name of Roce Ceremony – where they use Haldi and oil while south Indians only use oil. They pour the oil on the Bride and Groom and later bath them with rose water and milk. Once this is done, both the Bride & Groom will be all set to get ready for the main event. But before the big event, couple has another small yet very important event which is the “Mehendi Ceremony”.

Mehendi Ceremony

Mehendi ceremony generally takes place a day before the wedding. The bride and the groom observe this ritual at their own residences. It is a women centric ritual. Light coloured Outfits are preferred in this ritual. Bride wears a short sleeved dress. The mehendi is applied on her hands and her feet. Elderly ladies sing traditional mehendi songs with dholaks and other premature music instruments. Other women in the family also apply mehendi on their hands in this ceremony. Mehendi ceremony is not mandatory for the groom but some mehendi is applied on his hands and feets in symmetric designs

Traditionally a Bridal Mehendi has the initials of her to be husband. In post-marriage rituals the groom has to find it and this situation acts like a good ice breaker between the two. The color of the Mehendi and longevity of Mehendi signifies a lot on how she is being respected in her new family. If a bride retains her Mehendi while visiting her parents’s house for the first time after marriage, it shows that her in-laws are caring. Henna used in Mehendi has cooling properties which scientifically calm the bride’s nerves when applied on hands & her feets. Post this ceremony comes the big event. An event which concludes both Bride & Groom to be Husband & Wife for the entirety of their lives.

Solah Shringar Ceremony

For a woman, her wedding day is a beginning of a new chapter. It’s when she, as an individual is transitioning into a completely new role. The term Solha Shringar literally means sixteen adornments that are defined traditionally as parts of woman’s ensemble. Each of the adornments are believed to enhance the Bride’s beauty. These adornments beautify her from head to tow and contribute to her complete beautification. It is a process of complete make over, that a Bride takes over just before the Big Event.
Before doing the adornments, the bride is supposed to have a pre-shringar bath where the Bride’s hair is oiled and washed with water, reetha and milk. Then the Bride is draped in a Red Saree and the process of adornments begin from head towards the toe.

  • Bindi – It refers to the coloured dot women wear at the centre of their forehead. Red is the preferred colour at the wedding. It signifies luck and prosperity for the Brides.
  • Sindoor – Also known as Vermilion, it is a red colored powder applied in the parting of the hair. Sindoor is applied to a woman for the first time by her husband. Only married women apply sindoor. Sindoor Signifies auspicious well being of her husband.
  • Maang tika – It is the first piece of jewelry that goes on the Bride, it is applied in the parting of the hair. It is made up of Gold or Silver studded with precious stones. It is an oval embellished part extended by a chain of pearls or beads.
  • Kajal – A black dye made out of coal fire and oil is applied to eyes, both on upper and lower lash lines. It gives shapes and definition to eyes making it look more precise.
  • Nath – Also known as nose ring, it is worn in the left nostril by married women on auspicious occasions. It is general made of Gold or Silver. It can be as big as a Bangle or as small as a Bead.
  • Karnphool – Also known as earrings, they are normally a complement to the necklace worn by the bride. Popular styles that are adopted these days are Jhumkas, Chandbalis and Danglers. Many brides also wear kaan-chains made in diamond or kundan.
  • Haar – Also known as a necklace is the center piece of the whole bridal outfit. Indian brides prefer necklaces in layers. There are various types like simple Gold chains, Chokers, Haars etc. Heavy kundan work, Meenakari work & Jadau work can be seen on bridal necklaces. Another important necklace a married women wear on a daily basis is a Managalsutra.
  • Mehendi – Made by heena, it has an immense significance in Indian culture as it symbolizes luck, fertility & prosperity of the bride to be.
  • Bajuband – Also known as Armband, it is pretty common in Rajasthani and South Indian brides. It is made in Gold and precious stones are adorned within.
  • Bangles – It’s a classical adornment to the bridal attire. Bangles can be made of Gold, Silver, Glass, Lac and are worn in Bride’ arm. The Bangles signify prosperity of the family. Bengali women adorn Shankha Pola and loha (Bangles made in shell, lac and iron) Punjabi’s adorn chudas (Bangles in red and white with ivory embellishment)
  • Haathphool – Also known as Aarsi or angthi, it is an ornament worn in fingers of the Bride. Four or five rings are attached with chains to central Moti which connects to a Bracelet.
  • Kamarbandh – It is a sort of Waist Accessories. It is a simple ornament worn around the waist. This emphasises overall figure of the bride.
  • Payal – Also known as anklet. It is a silver chain (preferred) to be worn around ankles, most often attached with a bunch of chiming beads.
  • Bichua – Also known as Toe-rings are mandatory for a married woman to wear. This piece of jewelry is gifted by the mother in law to the bride. It is said that it enhances fertility in married woman, It is most often made in silver.
  • Itar – Also referred as fragrance, it is a good perfumed drenched to make her smell good throughout the wedding rituals. A good perfume calms the bride’s nervousness down and add another dimension to her whole get up.
  • Keshapasharachana – It means hair accessory. The bride adorns flowers and other gold accessory on her hair. Flowers like Roses and Jasmin are added as a hair accessory.

Mandap/Seven vows Ceremony

Mandap is a ritual followed only in Hindu community, These are the Seven Vows taken by the bride and the groom, Mangalsutra (an ornament put around the neck of the bride by the groom), and finally Kanyadaan.

In Hindu Weddings, the Bride and Groom perform Mangal pheras around the sacred fire. The corners of bride’s saree and the groom’s Uttariya are tied in a knot. With seven Mangal pheras the Bride and Groom take seven vows for each other. The Sanskrit words are uttered by the couple as an expression of future intention, and both promise each other the same.

The Seven Sacred Vows of marriage are described as follows:

  • For the First Vow, the Groom promises: “om esha ekapadi bhava iti prathaman” meaning ‘You will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide welfare and happiness for you and our children’. The bride complies in return:“dhanam dhanyam pade vadet”‘ I am responsible for the home and all household, food and finance responsibilities’. Concisely, the bride and groom promise each other prosperity by fulfilling their respective roles in their lives.
  • For the Second Vow the groom says: “om oorje jara dastayaha”, meaning ‘Together we will protect our house and children’. The Bride in return promises “kutumburn rakshayishyammi sa aravindharam”, which translates as ‘I will be by your side as your courage and strength. I will rejoice in your happiness. In return, you will love me solely’.
  • During the Third Vow, the Groom says, “om rayas santu joradastayaha” by which he means ‘May we grow wealthy and prosperous and strive for the education of our children and may our children live long.’ In return the Bride promises, “tava bhakti as vadedvachacha”, meaning ‘I will love you solely for the rest of my life, as you are my husband. Every other man in my life will be secondary. I vow to remain chaste’.
  • During the Fourth Vow, the Groom declares “om mayo bhavyas jaradastaya ha” by which he means ‘You have brought sacredness into my life, and have completed me. May we be blessed with noble and obedient children’ In return for this promise, the Bride says “lalayami cha pade vadet”, by which she means, ‘I will shower you with joy, from head to toe. I will strive to please you in every way I can’.
  • For the Fifth Vow, the Groom says, “om prajabhyaha santu jaradastayaha”, which means ‘You are my best friend, and staunchest well-wisher. You have come into my life, enriching it. God bless you’. To this the Bride says, “arte arba sapade vadet” or ‘I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honor you, and will strive to fulfill all your wishes’.
  • During the Sixth Vow, the Groom asks, “Rutubhyah shat padi bhava” which means ‘Now that you have taken six steps with me, you have filled my heart with immense happiness. Will you do the kindness of filling my heart with happiness like this for all times?’ to this the Bride replies, “yajna hom shashthe vacho vadet” meaning ‘I will always be by your side’.
  • For the Last and Seventh Vow, the Groom says “Om sakhi jaradastayahga”, by which he proclaims ‘We are now husband and wife, and are one. You are mine and I am yours for eternity.’ The Bride accepts this proclamation and says “Attramshe sakshino vadet pade”, which means ‘As God is witness, I am now your wife. We will love, honor and cherish each other forever’.

Mangalsutra Ceremony

The most sacred custom of a Hindu Wedding is Groom tying the Mangalsutra to the Bride. A Mangalsutra is a black and gold beaded necklace with a gold or a diamond pendant. It has immense importance in hindu weddings as it is a symbol of marriage and is worn by the a woman until her husband’s death.

The concept of Mangalsutra has originated in south India, where it is known as “Thaaly”. It is a yellow thread painted with turmeric paste and tied around Bride’s neck with three knots. It is a promise from a husband to his wife that they will always stay together. A lot of faith is put on the power of black beads of the mangalsutra when it comes to well-being of the marriage and longevity. The mangalsutra is supposed to remind the woman about her duties, commitments and code of righteousness that she has to observe in the marriage, distracting her from adultery and other immoral behaviour. The two strands in the mangalsutra symbolize the energies of shiva and shakti. Traditionally a mangalsutra designs include stringing of nine black beads with nine gold beads

Varmala Ceremony

Varmala is a main ritual on the wedding day. It is also known as Jaimala in various communities. It basically involves exchange of garlands between the Bride and Groom. Once the Groom arrives to the Bride’s house, mother of the Bride welcomes him at the door step with a pooja thali and applies a tilak and bless him against the evil.

All the close relatives, friends and family members flock around the couple, for the ceremony. First the Bride tries to put Jaimala in the Groom’s neck. To make it fun they make it a tussle. Bride’s and Groom’s friends prevent the counter party from doing so. Finally when the Groom puts the garland around Bride’s neck, it indicates that the Bride has accepted the Groom as her loving husband.

Kanyadhaan Ceremony

Women are placed under lifelong male guardianship – Father when unmarried, Husband when married and son when old and widowed. From where comes the concept of Kanyadaan which some would just consider transfer of property rights, the property being the girl to be wedded. After the Bride has been called into the wedding arena, and has exchanged garlands with the Groom during the Varmala ceremony, she is then seated on the opposite side of the groom in front of the holy fire. Then groom extends his right hand upon which the bride’s right hand is placed. This ritual is known as Hastamilap or Joining of the Hands. Their hands are then joined by sacred thread, or a piece of red cloth, betel leaves, betel nuts, and flowers are placed on top.

Some customs also include money and a gold coin in this ceremony. The Bride’s father or in some cases both the parents place their hand on top and sometimes pour Ganga Jal or a mix of Ganga Jal and Milk over the joined hands, all the while repeating after the priest chanting verses in praise of Kamadeva, the God of Love. The Groom is then supposed to place his free hand on the bride’s right shoulder, which symbolizes him taking responsibility for her well being. Their fates now linked together, the Bride is no longer a part of her father’s household and is accepted into the Groom’s family. From this point forward, all the rituals that are to be observed are done according to the traditions of the Groom’s side.
Kanyadaan is a deep rooted ritual. The Groom is considered a representation of lord Vishnu and during kanyadaan, the parents of the Bride are offering their daughter, a considerable piece of their existence for his taking. This ritual also emphasizes how the parents of the Bride are entrusting him with the most precious ‘gift’ in this world. It is expected of him that he will always take care of their daughter, respect her and keep her happy in every possible way.

Vidai Ceremony

In India, Vidai is a post wedding ceremony, which takes place after Pheras and Kanyadaan. During the Vidai ceremony the Bride is accompanied by her parents and associates, who lead her outside the doorstep of the house. Before crossing the doorstep she throws back three handfuls of rice into the house which symbolizes that the bride is repaying her parents for all that they have given her so far.

This occasion presents mixed feelings as everybody is happy for the bride as she is going to start a new life but at the same time it tears well up thinking that she no more belongs to them. After this the brothers and cousins of the Bride push the car to help her leave and start her new life. The Sole of an Indian Wedding lies in the bonds we share with our beloved ones. Though it is hard sometimes to accept, the real completeness to life is when we accept it & look forward for a new Phase of it. This concludes my blog on “An Indian Wedding”. 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!!!!