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About Indian Weddings

2015/03/23

About Indian Weddings

One line that most appropriately sums up India is its rich cultural and religious diversity. Right from the attires, food, lifestyles, traditions and customs – this diversity gets reflected in every facet of Indian life and consequently in Indian marriages. In India, marriages epitomize not just the coming together of two people and tying the sacred knot, but it is also about the unification of two families. Indian marriages are filled with rituals and celebrations that extend for several days. Undoubtedly, wedding is the most significant day in everyone’s life and hence is solemnized with grand celebrations and utmost sanctity, some of which are described below:

Mehndi Ceremony

Mehndi ceremony is the most interesting pre-wedding ceremony that an Indian bride inquisitively looks forward to. Any traditional Indian wedding is incomplete without this ceremony. Usually a day or two before the wedding, the ritual of applying mehndi or henna takes place at the bride’s place, which is accompanied with spellbinding songs and folklore. On this day, the hands and legs of the bride are decorated with intricate motifs and patterns.

The ceremony is a symbol of the ever deepening relationship with her future husband. There is also an interesting belief behind this ceremony, which is that the deeper the colour of the mehndi on the bride’s hands stronger is the love of the groom for his bride.

Haldi / Gujarati Pithi Ceremony

The ritual of applying haldi to bride and groom is considered very sacred and pure in Indian weddings. The turmeric paste is believed to be auspicious that washes off not only dirt from the bride’s and groom’s bodies and gives them a healthy glow, but also takes away all the negativities off them. It is a very fun-filled ritual as on this day the family, relatives, and friends of the bride and the groom enjoy smearing the turmeric paste all over them. The paste of haldi softens and brightens the skin of the bride and the groom and prepares them for the wedding day.

Greh Shanti

Any traditional Indian Hindu wedding is said to become successful with the right influence of the nine planets that rule your fortune. For that very purpose, this greh shanti puja is performed to seek the blessings of the divine gods and goddesses so that the couple can have a prosperous and happy married life ahead. The puja is solemnized at a specific day and at an auspicious time, which is decided by the family priest after studying the horoscopes of the soon-to-be husband and wife.

Engagement Ceremony

Since the ancient vedic times, Indian marriages are performed with elaborate rituals and opulent ceremonies. One such elaborate pre-wedding ceremony is engagement ceremony. Also known as the ring ceremony or sagai ceremony, it is a propitious time when the bride and the groom exchange rings and marks the onset of the marriage concord. This brief ritual symbolizes the partial unison of the prospective husband and wife and their families.

The ritual is formalized with the exchange of sweets and gifts between the families followed by sumptuous feast.

Shagun Ceremony

In Indian weddings, jubilation, grandeur and fun are so perfectly blended with the rich Indian culture and heritage that an onlooker so easily gets bewitched by it. Every ritual has a deep, inherent meaning and is performed in order to bring prosperity and good fortune in the lives of the would-be couple. The date for the Shagun Ceremony is decided according to the Panchanga, called the Astral calendar. On this day, the family of the groom especially the mother goes to the bride’s place with buckets full of gifts, fruits, sweets, rice and betel nuts. Jewelry and bride’s clothes are also a significant part of the shagun. It is a norm that when the bride accepts the shagun given to her; it is taken as a sign of formal consent from her behalf that she is ready to embrace the new world that awaits her after the marriage.

Baraat

Barrat is a huge wedding procession in which the relatives and friends of the groom can’t wait to tap their feet with the tunes of the songs played by the brass band party with great pomp and show including brilliant fireworks. Baraatis dance and sing incessantly till they reach the venue of the wedding. In baraat, the groom remains in the limelight and is the centre of attraction for all. During the procession, the groom is made to sit on a mare or elephant and desperately awaits to catch the glimpse of his bride.

Here are some very popular Bollywood songs that make the baraatis to go wild:

  • Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
  • Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
  • Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi H
  • Desi Girl

Varmala

After the wedding procession, when the groom reaches the wedding venue he is welcomed by the bride’s mother with a tilak and Aarti. He is then escorted to an elaborate stage setup or mandva to perform the Varmala ceremony. It is an essential aspect of the traditional Indian wedding when the bride and the groom exchange decorated garlands. It is an interesting belief that whosoever first put the garland around their partner’s neck will dominate the relationship or will have an upper hand in the relationship.

Wedding Ceremony

After the Varmala Ceremony, the bride and the groom are taken to the vivaah mandap for the mandap rituals, which is of utmost importance in the Indian weddings. Here, priest lits the sacred fire and chants the vedic and holy verses while the bride and the groom circle seven times around the fire taking sacred marriage vows by offering the fire parched rice and grains to make their marriage life fulfilling and successful.

These seven marriage vows are:

  • To remain honest and committed towards each other
  • To share each other’s responsibility
  • To extend unconditional love, support, and care to each other
  • To follow the path of morality in order to gain prosperity and well being
  • To maintain and protect the dignity of the relationship
  • To help each other in the upbringing of children
  • And, to maintain transparency and conjugality in the relationship

Anand Karaj

Anand karaj, which means “Ceremonial Union” or “Blissful Union,” is a pious marriage ceremony of Sikhs. It got introduced by Guru Amar Das and the marriage chants or four lavan that take place during the wedding ceremony were written by his descendant, Guru Ram Das. But with the approval of the Anand Marriage Act 1909, it got official recognition in India. The ceremony is now under the norms of Sikh code of conduct and conventions (Sikh Reht Maryada) which was framed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).

According to the latest verdict by Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, the ritual can be solemnized only in a Gurudwara. An Amritdhari or Baptized Sikh performs this wedding ceremony.

Vidai

Of all the ceremonies that take place before and after the wedding, Vidai is the only ceremony that brings tears in everyone’s eyes. It is an emotional and touching moment for the bride and her family as she is ready to leave her parents’ home and become a part of her husband’s family. Every marriage ritual culminates in this final ceremony when the bride is bid an emotional farewell.

Reception Ceremony

The celebrations are not over yet as one more ceremony that knocks the door steps of the now happily married bride and the groom is the reception ceremony. This ceremony is organized next day after the wedding by the groom’s family and it is virtually the first time when the bride presents herself as a crucial member of the groom’s family. They grace her arrival by organizing the reception party that is filled with sumptuous and delectable food along with great ambience and music. The in-laws of the bride shower their love and affection on the bride through this gesture and bless her for the new beginning.

At the end, it can be said that Indian weddings are a rich tapestry of vibrant rituals and jubilant celebrations that make the Indian weddings literally a festival in itself.