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Culture of Indian Weddings

As joyous an affair as all weddings are, Indian weddings hold a special place for joy, mirth, and never-ending literal celebrations. It can never be a day’s work having a traditional wedding in India as most of them last for a minimum of 3-4 days with all the rituals mixed with fun and memories to cherish for a lifetime. That is precisely why they are called Big Fat Indian Weddings!

As fun and exciting as these rituals are, they also have a deeper meaning etched to them. An Indian cultural wedding is divided into three parts, namely pre-wedding rituals, the main wedding, and the post-wedding ones.

Pre-Wedding Rituals:

These rituals begin around 2-3 days before the main wedding day.  Some of the functions are Mehndi, Haldi and Sangeet which take place in that order in the two days prior to the main one. During this time, the bride’s hands and feet are beautified with henna after which is the haldi day for both bride and the groom where they are smeared with turmeric as a sign of blessing over the couple. A night before the main wedding day, the family and friends of the bride as well as the groom get together to have a musical night, and join in the merriment of the couple with dance performances, games and lots of fun.

Main Wedding Day:

The main day starts off with the Baraat that is a procession of the groom on a horse generally, with his family and friends travelling to the bride’s house or wedding venue for the wedding. There is lots of dancing and music being played in this procession till they reach the place. The groom is then welcomed by the bride’s mother with honey and milk.

There is a Mandap or a shack made under which the main wedding takes place. The bride is brought to the mandap accompanied by her brothers or her best friends. Then starts the mantras which are recited by the priest. During these mantras, the couple does the Saptapadi which is the most important ritual of a wedding. This has the couples circling the fire 7 times as they recite the 7 vows to each other. Before they start doing this, the bride’s dupatta is knotted to the groom’s from around his neck as a sign of bonding and a giving away ceremony by the bride’s parents. Once the couple circles around the fire, the groom ties a Mangalsutra around the bride’s neck as a symbol of the bride being a married woman. This is done in lieu of the rings exchanged in other weddings. The groom then fills the bride’s hair parting with Sindoor or vermillion and they are pronounced man and wife. The Saptapadi is done as a symbol of the couple being together for 7 lifetimes to come.

Post Wedding:

This is more of a fun time where the bride is bid adieu by her family, and she has to go to her husband’s home. Before she can enter her marital home, her mother-in-law places a vessel of rice and a plate of wet vermilion, which the bride has to kick lightly and step on and enter respectively as she begins her new life. There is a fun game where a mixture of water, milk, and vermillion is kept in a vessel with some coins and a ring. Whoever amongst the bride and groom can find the ring 4 out of 7 times without looking is said to have the upper hand in the household.

These were the main rituals of a traditional Indian wedding while there are many small ones that literally seem to be never-ending but oh so fun to be a part of!

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