20 Mind-blowing Traditional Indian Wedding Rituals We Bet You Didn’t Know
Indian weddings are all the rage these days. Even people who are non-Indian want to perform Hindu rituals as their wedding ceremonies. Because, why not? It looks so compelling.
Indian weddings are plenty different than Christian weddings. Christian weddings are all about the colour white – dress, flowers, shoes…However, when it comes to Indian weddings you’d see red everywhere.
Red is the colour of love and passion. It is everywhere. The dresses, makeup, henna, and even the colour of the food which is served tend to be red.
Although quite recently a fusion blend of western and Indian culture can be seen in modern weddings in India where there are bachelor parties and DJ nights.
The pre-wedding shoot culture with fancy wedding hashtags made by websites such as WeddingTagMaker.com has been trending a lot.
Having said that, none of the above mentioned modern trends has replaced any of the Indian tradition, in fact, a surreal blend of the old and the new can be witnessed.
Not to be confused with George Marion’s red wedding, a real Indian wedding is full of dancing and sweet memories.
Read these cool Traditional Indian Wedding Rituals to know more.
1. The Wedding Date
Hindu astrology is centuries old and even today weddings are not set without a Muhurta. Muhurta is an astrological way of measuring time.
Once it is final and all the stars and dates of birth of the bride, groom, and their ancestors going all the way back to three generations are aligned, the wedding date is finalized.
During the ceremony, astrologist evaluates the chances of them spending seven lives together. After that, the groom’s mother gifts the bride a beautiful red dress. This is the same dress which the bride wears on her wedding day.
2. Wedding Expenses
Indian wedding expenses are huge and by huge I mean high expenses and big budgets. Also, the number of guests is crucial – the more the merrier.
The couple’s houses are decorated with lights and flowers. The clothes ought to be flashy, and of course, the food contributes to all of these expenses.
Again, the figure might vary from family to family but usually, the number of guests is estimated to be somewhere about 200 to 2,000.
3. Gifts Exchange
The groom’s family gives the girl’s family clothes and sweets. In return the girl’s family gifts the groom either a car or cash, depending on their affluence.
The ceremony of giving gifts varies in different parts of India. Some consider it a ritual in itself and some do not perform any special protocol.
4. Dowry Culture
In ancient times the dowry would be measured in the bride’s weight. Although this practice is ancient but in rural regions of India people still give their daughter’s dowry worth their weight.
The heavier the bride the larger is the dowry. The dowry mainly consists of gold and cash but sometimes property is also offered.
The bride and groom’s family gather in a temple just a few days before the actual wedding takes place. It is a sort of engagement party. The families offer their prayers in front of their idols.
The couple then exchanges gold rings. The bride is given a gift from the groom’s father, a basket filled with Misri. Misri is a type of rock sugar. It symbolizes the everlasting sweetness in their marriage.
6. Pre-Party “Sangeet”
Sangeet is basically a wedding’s pre-party. The whole family, cousins, uncles, and aunties gather together for a few days, and sometimes even weeks on end, to celebrate with the families.
Sangeet party usually takes place just a couple of days prior to the actual wedding.
First, the groom’s family give their dance performances and then the bride’s cousins take the wheel. It is more like a friendly competition. It is full of dancing, singing, and drinking.
7. Turmeric Ceremony
This ceremony takes place on the same morning as the henna ceremony. Sometimes turmeric and henna ceremony is combined into one pre-wedding function.
Turmeric was initially used by Indian maharanis or queens. It is an aromatic yellow powder. The bride sits in the middle of her friends and family who then proceed to cover her hands, feet, and face with it.
8. Milk Shower
After the turmeric ceremony, some parts of rural India perform the milk shower or “doodh nehlayi” on the bride to wash off all the turmeric.
This shower starts with the bride’s mother pouring a pitcher of raw milk over the bride. Then the bride’s grandmother, sisters and cousins follow until the turmeric is washed off completely.
9. Henna Ceremony
The bride’s hands are spread with henna “mehndi”. Legend says that this culture came from Muslims and Hindus adopted it over time.
Henna has got fairly popular universally but nobody displays it better than an Indian bride. Her hands are filled with traditional designs that take hours to apply.
After that, the henna is left on for the whole night to give out the best colours. In the morning it is a dark red or maroon colour.
10. The Bridal Grandeur
Wearing red is all about traditions. In Hindu astrology, Mars is responsible for marriage and fertility. It is a red planet hence the colour red.
This dress is the opposite of a Christian wedding dress. Christian wedding dresses are about simplicity while an Indian wedding dress is full of extravagant designs and decorations. It consists of layers and layers of clothes.
Also, the bride is expected to wear heavy pure gold ornaments to match well with her dress.
11. The Main Ceremony
Normally the wedding starts off with greeting the “Barat” (the groom’s entire family, friends, cousins, and relatives).
They are served cold drinks and then the bride and the groom along with their parents go to the mandap. The mandap is a small stand-up room where the official ceremony is performed.
The bride and the groom complete the seven mandatory steps around the holy fire in this mandap.
In Hindu mythology, it is believed that each person gets seven lives and these seven steps represent their bond for all of these lives. Isn’t that romantic?
12. The Couple’s Clothes are tied together
As the happy bride and the groom circle around the sacred fire to fulfill their religious duty, their dresses are tied together.
The knot between their garments represents a life lasting bond which is unbreakable. Once the seven steps are fulfilled they remove this knot indicating that the ritual is now complete.
13. Wedding Offerings
The sacred fire stands as a witness to the couple. Several offerings are made.
The bride’s brother gives his sister three handfuls of rice and each time the bride offers the rice to the fire. This ritual is performed as a wish for a happy married life.
14. Floral Garlands
Floral Garlands or Jai Mala are exchanged between the bride and the groom. This ritual is similar to western weddings’ ring ceremony.
After the steps are completed and all the necessary offerings are made, the groom offers his newly wedded wife a floral garland and in return, the girl gives her husband a floral garland as well.
Sindoor or red colour powder is applied to the bride’s front hair symbolizing that she is now married.
In Indian culture, only married women use sindoor or red powder in their hair. Application of sindoor is not limited to the wedding ceremony alone. Married women use it every day.
16. Mangal Sutra
Floral garland isn’t the only thing that the bride has to wear around her neck. Like sindoor, mangal sutra is not limited to the wedding ceremony only.
It is worn by the bride for the rest of her life. It is a sign of wealth, health, and fortune. This tradition of mangal sutra is associated with Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
It is believed that the goddess herself is invoked in mangal sutra, forever bringing contentment and felicity to the bride’s life.
17. The sweet and sour wedding foods
After the wedding, food is served. Indian food can be extremely spicy and their sweets are very sweet.
There is a variety that the bride’s family serves at their daughter’s wedding. Usually, tikka kebab and biryani are served as the main courses, and then ladoo as an entrée.
Ladoo is a must although the dishes differ widely based on the region.
18. The Bride’s Departure
After the wedding, the bride is taken home by the groom’s family. Her room is decorated with red roses and marigold flowers.
The entire house is sprayed with rose water and traditional perfumes. Small oil lamps are lit. These lamps are soaked into aromatic oils.
19. The Morning after
The next morning, the bride’s family brings breakfast for the girl. In some cases, they take their daughter back with them for a few days but normally she stays with her husband.
20. Post-Wedding Party
Initially, this was celebrated by Muslim brides in India but some Hindus have adopted it. The groom’s family holds a lunch party for its relatives and friends the very next day of the main event.
Again the bride and groom wear flashy attires. The food is served. The family and friends bring gifts to show their best wished for the newlywed pair.
After this party, the couple is sent on their honeymoon. Their car is decorated with flowers and balloons as well.