Prerita Puri is a Marketing Specialist with LocalOye.com, it is a marketplace for event and venue planning in the Mumbai area. LocalOye specializes in wedding and reception venues and so much more. She is a digital geek and social media expert. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.
All photos provided by Prerita and were taken by Karin Studios, Mumbai.
Anyone who has ever attended an Indian wedding knows what a grand and awe-inspiring event it can be. The moniker ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ didn’t just come from a random thought, since weddings in India tend to be among the most lavish and complex that you will ever see!
The intricacies of an Indian wedding can take a long time to explain, especially since every region of the country has its own customs and traditions. Still, there are a number of rituals and aspects of traditional Indian weddings that can be a lot of fun to incorporate in your own ceremony. Let’s take a quick look at some of these:
1. Sangeet Ceremony – The wedding sangeet is one of the most fun-filled pre-wedding events in an Indian wedding, with Garba/Raas dancing or other regional styles. Originally meant just for the bride and her female relatives, today the sangeet includes male and female friends and family members of both the bride and the groom. It’s a good idea to plan a party like the Indian wedding sangeet before your big day, where everyone sings songs, feasts on delicious food and dances their hearts out with joy!
2. Mehendi Ceremony – Other than the fact that any woman feels extra-pretty with beautiful mehendi (henna designs) on her hands and feet, this ritual is believed to be powerful in many ways. Indian brides are adorned with intricate henna designs to invite grace and good fortune into their lives and their marriage. In fact, there is a charming tradition where the groom’s name is hidden in her henna, and he has to find it on the wedding night. Mehendi or henna has already become quite popular globally, so adding this ceremony to your nuptial celebrations is sure to be a hit!
3. Feeding Sweets – At any Indian party, special occasion or prayer meeting, sweets are passed around to everyone present. This is not just to ‘sweeten their mouth’, but is believed to bring good fortune and happiness into their lives. At an event as important as a wedding, the bride and groom feed each other sweets, symbolizing the sweetness of the union and joy in their new life. Of course, everyone else gets in the act too, feeding them a few bites or presenting them with a package of ‘mithai’ (sweetmeats)!
4. Groom Arriving in Style – Who doesn’t want to arrive at their wedding sitting on a horse or elephant, anyway? At any wedding in India, the bride and groom are treated like royalty, so while the bride steals the show in her finery and jewels, the groom is not left out either. Most wedding processions feature either a gorgeous white mare or an elephant adorned with fancy trappings, with the groom sitting on the animal’s back. If you want an Indian-inspired wedding or just create a splash with your arrival at the wedding venue, this is one way to do it!
5. Stealing the Groom’s Shoes – There is a wedding tradition in India that says the groom should leave the venue in the same shoes he arrived in. This belief lends itself to an unusual and hilarious custom, where the bride’s sisters and young female relatives steal the groom’s shoes and hide them. He then has to hand out money or gifts to these mischievous girls, so he can buy them back. The groom expects this to happen and doesn’t try very hard to prevent it, since the mirth and hilarity that ensues sets a nice emotional tone for the marriage!
6. Touching of Hearts – This is a beautiful tradition at Indian weddings, called the ‘Haridaya Sparsha’. While reciting their vows to each other, the bride and groom touch each other’s hearts to symbolize the depth and emotion behind their commitment. This ritual is normally accompanied by Vedic chants, but you could include the powerful effect at your wedding, by touching your partner’s heart during the wedding vows or after the ceremony. Including this symbolism in your wedding toast is sure to bring tears and smiles to everyone’s eyes!
7. Tying the Knot – Like many other cultures across the globe, there is a literal knot, which is part of the Indian wedding ceremony. During an Indian wedding, the priest ties the couple together with a length of fabric loosely draped over their shoulders. This wedding knot is symbolic of the commitment and permanent union of the twosome, and can be incorporated in your wedding ceremony as a sweet reminder of the original idea behind marriage in this age of separation and divorces.
8. Planting New Life – In a religious ritual called the ‘Ghari Puja’, prayers are offered at the homes of the bride and groom on the day before the wedding. After the prayers (which ask for blessings), the mother and female members plant a stalk in the ground. Even if you are non-religious, the idea of starting a new life by planting a seed or plant in the ground is a lovely ritual. The symbolism of new life and nurturing the plant together is a deeply spiritual connection to the Earth and is believed to bring blessings, good fortune and joy into your life together.
As an ancient culture, India’s wedding rituals and traditions are older than most of us realize. The religious and cultural differences in the country combine to make it one giant melting pot of magic, history and tradition. In modern times, Indian weddings may have become large and grand-scale affairs, but the original intent remains the same.
At the heart of all the pomp and grandeur, any wedding is meant to celebrate a couple’s love and commitment to each other!