Ceremonial Traditions, Customs & Rituals.
The Indian wedding and its ceremonies are a legacy of elaborate rituals marked with opulence, grandeur, merriment and symphony twinned with traditional songs and lyrics. It is considered to be a sacrament, an event marking the unification of two souls and is considered to be highly significant both socially and religiously. Each ritual is regarded as celestial with a profound meaning to it. Being a land of numerous cultures, Indian weddings today have pre-wedding functions and celebrations that traverse over days.
A ritual preceding a formal engagement. The bride and groom’s families host a function to formalize the wedding. Both the sides exchange gifts and sweets to signify the alliance and the bond that both the families are now sharing. This custom is called The ‘Roka Ceremony’ in Punjabi weddings and Kachi Misri’ in the Sindhi community. The date for official engagement, Mangani, is decided for the rings to be exchanged. The circular form of a ring is considered to be a symbol of eternity and so the wedding bond is made eternal with the exchange of rings.
Mehendi & Sangeet
The Mehendi and Sangeet is the one ceremony, which is most eagerly waited for and lavishly celebrated. It is the highlight of every wedding. Celebrated by the bride’s side amidst merriment, cocktails and dinners, this ceremony is one of the most looked forward to in every wedding. This is the time when the bride’s hands and feet are elaborately decorated in traditional or modern motifs using a paste made with henna. Engraving initials of groom’s first name on bride’s hands has been a tradition and is followed till date. Female family members & friends of the bride also join in to apply henna on their hands, which is a traditional part of the wedding. The bride keeps it overnight and washes hands the next day with luke-warm water. It is believed that deeper the colour of the Mehendi the more joyous will be her married life.
The Shagun Ceremony, also known as the cocktails night from the groom’s side is celebrated on the eve of the wedding. Friends and relatives of the bride are also invited for dinner. The parents of the bride take gifts for the groom in the form of jewellery, cash and clothes. There is much celebration and jubilance with music, snacks, drinks and lavish food. The friends and relatives of the groom have a big bash at the party.
This is a ceremony common to Hindu as well as Muslim weddings. It is a ritual observed by both the groom and the bride in their respective homes. The bride and groom are made to sit on a small stool and family members apply a turmeric paste on their face and body. The paste is made with turmeric, sandalwood and rose water, meant to enhance the glow of the skin. For the bride, Haldi ceremony is followed by the chuda ceremony wherein the bride is made to wear red plastic bangles which she can’t remove till six months of marriage.
Bride’s family receives the Groom’s family at the reception hall. The Groom alights from the horse with much pomp and show and is greeted by the bride’s mother. Parallel relatives of both sides hug each other. This is popularly known as Milni ceremony after which the groom is accompanied to the decorated stage.
The bride is escorted by her friends to the stage where the groom is waiting for her. Garlands are exchanged between the bride and the groom as an acknowledgment and mark of mutual respect for one another. Friends& relatives take a spin on this as they lift the groom higher, making it difficult for the bride to reach his height. However the bride’s kin and friends pick her up and make sure she is at level with him.
The bride and the groom are taken to the Mandap, after they share a meal. The Wedding rituals start with the priest lighting the sacred fire and chanting relevant mantras. The father is made to place his daughter’s hands in that of the groom. He gives away the hand of his daughter to the groom& passes over her responsibity to the groom’s shoulders.
The Scared Seven Vows of marriage are taken which form the very pillar of every Hindu marriage. The Pundit chants the mantras and asks the bride and the groom to recite it after him with the holy as fire as a witness to their pledge.
1. We will respect each other mutually
2. We will acquire mental, physical and spiritual balance
3. We will prosper and share our achievements & wealth
4. We will gain happiness, harmony & knowledge through mutual love
5. We will dutifully raise strong, virtuous children
6. We will be faithful to one another, practice self-control and longevity
7. We will remain partners for life and strive for salvation
Seven rounds of the sacred fire are taken by the couple for the Seven oaths. Each pledge is completed by taking a round/phera, around the holy fire.
Mangalya Dharna & Sindoor
The marriage reaches a completion as the groom puts a Mangal sutra around his bride’s neck and puts vermillion on the crown of her head. This signifies the bride’s status as a married woman and the groom’s commitment of lifelong protection to her.
Before the married couple gets up, a fine pink colour cloth is placed on their shoulder which is then tied into a hard and fast knot by the parents. The Tying of the holy knot marks the permanence and sealing of an unbreakable bond, for a life time. The newly wedded couple then bows down to the priest, their parents and elder relatives to receive their final blessings. The guests shower flowers and rice on them to wish them a long and happy marriage.
It’s time for the bride to say goodbye to her maternal home. It is a tearful farewell as the girl leaves her parental house to embrace her husband’s home as her own. Friends and relatives turn emotional as they part with the bride who is now stepping into another world.
The bride and groom step in together in their house by toppling the pot full of rice. They are received by the ladies of the house. The bride puts her first auspicious step into her new home and life.
The groom throws a party as a couple. The Grooms family calls their side of friends, relatives and other associates whom they have perhaps not been able to invite for the wedding. The newlyweds stand together and receive the greetings of all friends and relatives.
The girl pays her first visit to her parent’s house after marriage. The girl’s brother gets the bride and the groom to their house. The parents are relieved to see their daughter and to know that she is faring fine in her new life and partner. The parents arrange for lunch and send the newlyweds back with gifts and sweets.
And so the celebrations come to a perfect completion as the beginning of a new dawn awaits the new couple…
These are just little samplers of the diverse wedding traditions and ceremonies in India. We can help you with any kind of information and arrangements you will need, from start to finish becoming your one stop guide to the perfect wedding.