India, being a home to diverse cultures and religions, has their weddings just as unique as their people. The whole Indian wedding affair signifies elaborate display of rituals, customs, and traditions. If you ever happen to visit India to attend a traditional Hindu wedding, you’ll see what I mean here. Average Indian wedding rituals last for around four to five days with each day filled with pre-wedding ceremonies before the D-Day!
Not just is an Indian wedding the scared union of two loving hearts but also a lifetime bond between two families. So the wedding scene in India usually starts with the boy’s or girl’s families finding the potential match for their kids and finalizing on the chosen one. Before the main wedding day, a number of pre-wedding preparations are taken into consideration like preparing bride’s trousseau, shopping for fineries, amassing gifts for the groom’s family, selecting the wedding venue, and getting the guests invited through a formal wedding invite.
Let me take you through inside a North India wedding ceremony rituals and traditions right from the start.
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The vibrancy, rituals, and traditions imitated by an Indian wedding is usually seen nowhere around the globe. The Engagement Ceremony or Ring Ceremony in India is a pre-wedding ceremony wherein the soon-to-wed couple exchange rings with a lifetime promise to share every sorrow and joy with one another. It is believed that the theme of the engagement is influenced by the western culture while some are of the opinion that the Indian wedding scenario witnessed a greater impact post the advent of British Rule in India.
Engagement Ceremony in India has vivid names; some call it Misri, while the others call it Ashirbad. On the day of the ceremony, bride’s and groom’s families meet and bless the couple to seek marital bliss ahead. The girl and boy then exchange rings pledging to be united in both good and bad times. The grand event is followed by bride’s and groom’s family exchanging gifts while the groom’s family gift some gold ornaments (particularly traditional and ancestral) to the girl. Not just this event is a start of the life-time bond between the two souls but also a relatively good chance for families to know each other.
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Deriving its roots from the traditional Indian customs, the Mehendi Ceremony is a fun-filled affair celebrated by the bride’s family. In this ceremony, the bride’s hands and feet are adorned with henna in beautiful and intricate designs. The mehendi is a henna paste that’s diluted in water and kept overnight to use for the deep color effect.
The complete ritual of Mehendi ceremony is auspicious and symbolic of the girl’s husband love for her if the mehendi leaves a deep red-black color on her palms. The ceremony has a mehendi expert called specially to decorate the bride’s palms and of the other ladies in the family. It is usually followed by a lot of merriment where in the ladies sing folk songs, dance, and give their blessings to the bride.
The charming factor about this entire ceremony is its vibrant color theme. Usually the bride dresses up in shades of green or yellow that’s symbolic of mehendi. In some parts of the country, the mehendi a bride adorns her hands with, is usually sent by the groom’s family along with sweets and other gifts. Another custom associated with Mehendi ceremony is that the girl has to have the bride’s and groom’s pictures on her palms as it’s considered very auspicious. Also, post-wedding, the bride isn’t permitted to do any household chores until her mehendi is washed away.
Sangeet ceremony in India are one of the most sought-after pre-wedding ceremonies where the bride and groom’s families and extended families sing, dance, rejoice, and merrymaking. Sangeet ceremony is usually celebrated at the crack of dusk, after mehendi ceremony. The women of the family gather around the bride and sing traditional songs, dance on folk tunes, and tease the bride by cracking jokes about her would-be-husband.
Many wedding planners swear by the concept of Sangeet ceremony, primarily prevalent in North India but now a favorite of all around India, saying it adds the fun and frolic dimension to any wedding. The new-age Indian weddings have elaborate Sangeet ceremonies where the bride’s and groom’s love life is enacted through different role plays and their story is told in a musical manner. The dances are usually well choreographed and practiced for long before the actual ceremony.
The music played in Sangeet ceremony ranges from traditional, folk, Bollywood, Bhangra, Hindi pop, and more. A professional DJ is hired to make the occasion more lively and thumping. The vibrant song and dance is followed by elaborate dining arrangements. Sangeet ceremony in India combines the distant relatives together under one roof and that speaks highly of the strong sense of bonding among Indian families.
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The day of wedding ceremony in India is filled with multiple traditions and rituals, each having their own symbolic role and significance. Saat pheras or Sapt Padi is the most crucial part of the entire wedding ceremony where the bride and groom take seven rounds and exchange wedding vows to enter in a blissful marital life together. Each phera or round has its own significance and a promise that bride and groom do to each other.
The whole ambience reeks of purity and divineness with mantras of love, commitment, and loyalty being chanted by everyone. The elaborate and time-consuming Indian wedding ceremonies are no doubt the best thing to see in India while you’re on a holiday in India. All pre and wedding ceremonies are performed as per Hindu traditions and norms with each having its own twist in every state. The bride, this day, is dressed in her best traditional fineries like an Indian lehenga choli or saree in bright and auspicious red or green colors. She is adorned with the typical “Solah Shringaar” with bindi, bangles, and traditional gold jewellery, make-up, and toe rings.
After the saat pheras, the groom puts a bright red line of vermillion on the bride’s forehead and ties mangalsutra around her neck as a mark of being married. The wedded couple then seeks blessings from the elders in the family to chalk on their journey of a new married life together.
Indian wedding traditions and ceremonies are so overwhelming with the diverse range of customs and beliefs that they come with. Indian Vidaai ceremony symbolizes the end of wedding ceremonies where the emotions run high. Vidai ceremony marks the departure of bride from her parents’ family to enter into her husband’s house after tying the knot.
Vidai ceremony in India is an occasion of both sorrow and joy for bride’s and groom’s family. Bride’s family, at one side, is sentimental to give away their girl’s hand in marriage and asking for a promise of lifetime from the groom to love, protect, and care for her for the lifetime. While on the other side, the groom’s family is all joyful and ecstatic on welcoming a new member to the clan. As the bride leaves from her family house, she hugs her friends and family and touches her elder’s feet to seek blessings.
As she steps out of her house’s entrance, she throws back the handful of rice over her head and her brothers collect them at the back as a sign of wealth and opulence later. This custom signifies that she is paying back everything, in the form of blessings; whatever her parents have given her all these years. In the final stages, when the bride and groom sit in the car decorated with flowers, the brothers of the bride give a push to the car meaning that they have given her a push ahead in their new life. In many cases, the elder or younger sibling of the bride accompanies her to her new home for moral support.
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Post Wedding Ceremonies
After Vidaai ceremony, when the bride takes the road to her husband’s house after leaving from her parents’ family, she is welcomed whole-heartedly to her new adobe. The elderly lady in the groom’s family welcomes the new bride along with her groom by putting some mustard oil at the corners of the entrance door. A pot filled with rice is kept at the entrance and the bride has to gently kick that with her right feet to spread the rice on the floor. This ceremony is called “Greh Pravesh” and is quite significant in a newly wedded girl’s life as she is considered Goddess Lakshmi as per Indian traditions.
Thereafter, she dips both her feet in the water filled with deep red vermillion (Alta) and steps on the floor, making her foot steps as a sign of auspicious entrance. She is greeted by her sister or mother in law with a plate filled with incense sticks, flowers, rice, and tilak and a small aarti (worship) is performed to ward off evils off her head. Dwar-Rokai is another fun ceremony performed by the younger sister in law of the bride where in the couple can only enter the house after giving some money or gifts to her.
Then comes the “Mooh Dikhai”! The bride is introduced to all family members and relatives of the groom’s house and each member offers the bride some gift or the other, as a welcome gesture. The gift can be a holy book like Ramayana, ancestral jewellery, clothes, or money. The groom’s family members then go on to play some fun-filled welcome games with the bride to let her arrival be on a cheerful note.
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