Indian wedding traditions
An Indian wedding – the epitome of glam. The bright colors, the longstanding traditions, and a sprinkling of good humoured fun thrown in for good measure make them a feast for all of the senses.
As one of the world’s most religiously and ethnically diverse lands, India boasts unique, culturally rich wedding ceremonies that run from elegant and sophisticated to beautifully intricate.
Many different rituals that are part of an Indian wedding ceremony also can take place over several days.
The wedding is divided into three parts: the Misri, Sangeet Party, and the Mehendi.
The Misri ceremony is held a few days before the wedding. The soon-to-be newlyweds exchange prayers, flower garlands and gold rings.
The groom’s parents are preparing a basket of gifts for the bride, with the key component being the Misri, which is rock sugar, as a wish for sweetness in their married life.
This party can be a stand-alone event, or be connected with the Mehendi ceremony. The Sangeet is a celebration where both families get together to sing and dance. This can be restricted to just the women, or open for all to enjoy.
Only the women in the families attend the Mehendi, which is probably the most recognised Indian wedding tradition. It is where the bride has her hands and feet adorned with intricate henna designs. This signify the bond between her and her future husband. Once the ceremony is finished and the parents give the bride away, they do not eat again before the wedding to remain pure.
Before the couple are married, they go through the Haldi ceremony.
Both families gather to spread oil, water, and turmeric over the couple. The mixture goes over their skin and clothes, and is believed to bless the couple.
Asian wedding Outfits
There is no something white when it comes to Indian brides, in fact, they tend to favour deep reds, vibrant yellows, and bold oranges.
An Indian bride adhering to tradition will wear a 16-piece outfit that includes makeup, jewellery, and clothes. The most recognisable is the Mangtikka, a jewel worn on the forehead.
Fabric colours for her sari and the groom’s attire is largely dictated by the region they are from.
The traditional red sari is a six-foot fabric draped in a specific way and adorned with crystals and real 24-karat gold thread. This is steeped in Hindu wedding tradition. The sari should be brightly coloured. Embellished with gold elements to symbolise commitment, spirituality, and fertility.
White is avoided since it’s a color reserved for mourning. Then the bride will change into a different sari for the reception.
Indian brides typically mix red or pink with gold. Their wedding garment is called a Lehenga. A long skirt with a matching top and scarf. After the ceremony, they also change into a different Lehenga.
The groom traditionally wears a turban adorned with flowers to ward off bad spirits. He wears a special type of shoe called a Sherwani and Mojari.
When the big moment comes, the couple are married under a Mandap. A four-pillared canopy, which is decorated with bright colours that often match the stunning outfits the couple select.
The wedding altar (mandap) is built the day of and the groom is welcomed by his future mother in law. His feet are washed and he is offered milk and honey.
His sister in law will attempt to steal his shoes and if she succeeds, the groom must pay her to get them back. An Indian groom typically wears a turban with a veil of flowers to protect him from evil spirits.
The parents give the bride away, but they do not eat before the wedding to remain pure for the occasion.
The bride’s saree is tied to the groom’s scarf to symbolize the union of the souls. During a similar ceremony, a cord is tied around the couple’s necks to protect them from evil. They are typically tied by elders of the bride and groom.
Lighting the fire
The agni, or holy fire, is central to an Indian wedding ceremony. It acts as a witness and is the centerpiece of the day. During the ceremony, the couple take seven steps around the fire and recite the Hindu pledge of marriage.
The Laja homa is carried out during the ceremony and is where the brother of the bride pours rice into her hands. The groom has his hands cupped underneath and some of the rice will spill into his hands before slipping into the sacred fire.
For Indian couples that are marrying under the Hindu tradition, the Mangala Sutra is tied around the bride’s neck instead of exchanging rings. The mangala sutra is a cord with two gold pendants. It is tied in three knots by the groom to symbolize the bonding of the two souls for 100 years. This necklace lets others know that the bride is married.
One fun ceremony is called mangal pheras. This is when the bride and groom circle the sacred fire four times to represent dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. They run to their seats—whoever gets there first will rule the household.
The groom helps the bride touch seven betel nutes with her right toe while they recite seven vows. Finally, seven married women from the bride’s side pass by the couple and whisper blessings in the bride’s right ear. After the wedding, the bride is carried out by her brothers.
While she may have just married the love of her life, completing the wedding ceremony is also an emotional time. It is the moment when the Indian brides officially farewell their family.
The Vidaai ceremony is the moment when this happens, and the bride takes handfuls of rice to throw over her head as a sign of thanks to her parents.
Another fun game for the newlyweds is called Aeki Beki. A tray of water is mixed with milk and sindoor (vermillion) and it is filled with coins and a ring. Whoever finds the ring four out of seven times will rule the household. The day is then concluded with prayers to God requesting happiness and love for the newlyweds.
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