Overview of a typical Indian Wedding
Weddings in India are a week-long extravagant affair, complete with rituals, blessing of elders, musical ceremonies, colour, grand décor and lip-smacking food. The prime aim of all the wedding customs it to seek the blessing of God for the newly-married couple through worships or ‘pujas’ and lay the foundation of a true Hindu marriage, which lies on physical, mental and spiritual bonding between husband and wife through a sense of understanding, love and intimacy.
The Wedding Attire
It’s not hard to spot the bride and groom in the wedding, as they are usually the most lavishly dressed people in the occasion. The dress worn by the bride often varies from heavily embellished traditional skirt and blouse or ‘lehenga-choli’, to expensive traditional silk drapes or sarees – it all depends on the region she belongs to. A heavy make-up, stunning hairstyle, and lots of gold jewelleries are a must too.
When it comes to the groom, he is also dressed in a gorgeous traditional ‘sherwani’ with a bright turban adorning his head; though in eastern India the turban is replaced by a ‘topor’.
The main focus is to make the couple look their best and their ostentatious attire takes care of that completely.
The wedding procedurals have evolved from the Vedic rituals since ancient times. Though certain western practices, like cocktails as well as post-wedding parties and western DJ music have made their way into Indian weddings, when it comes to rituals, Indians never fail to stay true to their roots and always carry them out with respect and honesty; after all Indians strongly believe that any deviation from traditions would only adversely affect the married life of the couple.
Every Hindu wedding rite includes several phases which commences long before marriage. These customs might be a tad different among different castes and regions, but the core rituals remain the same. Let’s take a look at some of the fascinating customs in a typical Indian wedding.
Engagement: It’s one of the compulsory pre-wedding procedures which seal the pact of marriage between a boy and girl through oral agreements by the elderly members and exchange of rings between the couple.
Baarat: On the day of the marriage, the bridegroom and his relatives arrives at the house of the bride, where the wedding would take place, making an exquisite procession or ‘baarat’- full of music, dance and frolic.
Vara satkaarah: it involves the reception of the entire ‘baarat’ at the entrance through vedic chants or ‘mantras’. The bride’s mother bestows her blessings by sprinkling a few grains of rice on him and applying a ‘tilak’ on his forehead with vermilion and turmeric powder.
Madhuparka: During this phase, the bride’s father welcomes the bridegroom to the altar and presents him with luxurious gifts.
Kanya Dan: The bride’s father would hand over or ‘dan’ his daughter or ‘kanya’ to the groom amidst elaborate, sacred chants.
Vivah-homa: Now begins the auspicious undertakings, making the sacred fire or ‘Agni’ as the prime witness of all these deeds. During this time, scared ‘mantras’ are chanted by the priests to worship the Hindu deities and plead with them to shower their divine blessings on the couple.
Pani-grahan: The bride places her right hand on the left hand of the bridegroom and he accepts her as his wife under the presence of all the guests present in the wedding.
Pratigna–Karan and saptapadi: the couple walks around the fire seven times, while taking the wedding vows to have full faith in God throughout their marriage and fill their life with love, compassion and sympathy for each other. The vows also include mutual promises to be each other’s companion during ups and downs in life, assist each other in noble deeds and have respect as well as affection for their parents and relatives. They also vouch for meaningful upbringing of their children, respect for guests and an overall virtuous life ahead.
All this time, they hold each other’s hands while making the rounds, while in some castes a knot is tied between the sashes of the couple as a sign of spiritual bonding between them throughout the rest of their life.
Sindur-pradan: Finally, the bridegroom traces a mark of vermilion just above the forehead of the bride and ties a ‘mangalsutra’ or a necklace around her neck to seal their marriage and accept her as his lawfully wedded wife.
Ashirwada: in the end, they seek the blessings of their parents, followed by the other elders in both their families.
Though elaborate, every ritual has a significance of its own and missing out even one would mean bad luck for the couple for rest of their life.
An Indian Wedding Is Not All About Rituals!
Although the religious rites and sacred mantras play an important role in Indian weddings, that’s not the sole attraction in this ceremony. A wedding is believed to be the most important celebration in one’s life and every family member wants to make the most of it during this time – it actually takes the form of a week-long festival in both the families.
People dress in bright, traditional dresses and dainty gold jewelleries, beautiful hair-dos and gorgeous make-ups to attend the wedding. Even the venue is wrapped up in lavish decorations of ribbons and flowers, bright covers for tables and chair, as well as cheerful lights; a lively atmosphere worth witnessing once in life.
No celebration is complete without good food and an Indian wedding is no exception. Thus a buffet with an extensive menu is a must in every Indian wedding. Traditional food is a must in such menus, but global cuisines have also become a favourite in such matters nowadays.
Have you ever attended an Indian wedding? What fascinated you the most? Share your experience with us.
By Liya Das