Are you waiting for that long anticipated day, supposed to be the best day of your life? You have been probably planning it for years. Are you feeling stressed out, daunted and over-whelmed at the prospect of planning for tour special day?
Packed with grandeur and fun Indian weddings are not easy to plan. With a long series of events leading up to the wedding and almost forty different rituals within the ceremony itself, it can be overwhelming for brides-to-be. All Indian weddings tell you a saga of spell binding Indian bride and groom, dazzling décor and heart melting getting ready moments.
So let’s crack the Indian wedding rituals code. While doing so remember, because of the numerous sub-cultures within the country, there are several different versions of what people consider to be an “authentic” Indian wedding. Keep in mind there are many other traditions out there! Follow us on this ecstatic journey of festivities.
Pre-wedding rituals form an integral part of all Indian weddings. All rituals are believed to be auspicious for the forthcoming wedding. These rituals last for almost a week creating excitement all around. Check out the two main pre-wedding rituals that are celebrated as an integral part of all weddings:
Pithi: The pithi ceremony is an auspicious ritual performed for good luck and to brighten and improve bride and groom’s skin tone.Pithi is a paste made mainly of turmeric, chickpea flour and rose water applied by family members and well-wishers on the bride/groom’s skin.
Mehndi: The Mehndi event is a colorful celebration of joy, beauty, spiritual awakening and offering held the night before the wedding, which is traditionally celebrated by the women on the bride’s side of the family. A mehndi artist or a relative applies henna decorative designs to the hands and feet of the bride and other women in the family.
Wedding ceremony rituals
Baraat (The Groom’s Procession): Baraat marks the entry of the groom accompanied by his family and friends into the wedding venue on a horse or a carriage. The procession consists of his family and friends singing and dancing around him to music generally played by a professional dholi.
Milni (Meeting of the Families): The bride’s mother greets the groom with a welcoming ritual. Relatives of the bride and groom embrace and greet each other with garlands.
Ganesh Puja (Prayer to Lord Ganesh): The ceremony begins with a worship of Lord Ganesh, the destroyer of all obstacles. The priest guides the groom and bride’s parents in offering flowers, sweets and prayer to Lord Ganesh.
Kanya Aagaman (Arrival of the Bride): The bride enters the hall and is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncle and aunt, signifying that the bride’s maternal side approves of the union. In some weddings, the bride is accompanied by her sisters, cousins and close female friends.
Jai Mala (Exchange of Garlands): Once the bride approaches the mandap, the bride and groom exchange floral garlands, signifying their acceptance of one another.
Kanyadaan and Hasta Melap (Giving Away of the Bride): The bride’s father pours sacred water in his daughter’s hand and places her hand in the groom’s hand, officially giving away his most precious gift to the groom. The groom’s sister or cousin then ties the end of the groom’s scarf to the bride’s sari with betelnuts, copper coins and rice, symbolizing unity, prosperity and happiness. The knot represents the eternal bond of marriage.
Vivah Havan (Lighting of the Sacred Fire): The priest then lights the sacred fire or Agni. Agni symbolizes the divine presence as a witness of the ceremony. Commitments made in the presence of agni are made in the presence of God.
Mangal Phere (Circling the Sacred Fire): The bride and groom walk around the sacred fire seven times keeping in mind the four aspirations in life: Dharma (duty to each other, family and God), Artha (prosperity), Kama (energy and passion) and Moksha (salvation). The bride, representing divine energy, leads the groom in the first three rounds, while the groom leads in the last four rounds, signifying balance and completeness.
Saptapadi (The Seven Sacred Steps): Now the couple takes seven steps together, taking a sacred vow with each step.
Aashirvaad (Blessings for the Married Couple): Women from both families whisper blessings into the bride’s ear. The couple then bows down to the priest, their parents and elder relatives to receive their final blessings. The guests shower the newlywed couple with flowers and rice to wish them a long and happy marriage.
Apart from this extravaganza of rituals, Indian weddings are also known for their sumptuous food. Indian wedding caterers with their authentic cooking and luscious spreads, make any Indian wedding an affair to remember.
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