The Beauty of Traditional Indian Wedding Rituals


A traditional Indian wedding has dozens of rituals, the secret meaning of which is available only to brahmins - the highest caste of sages who perform these rituals, or those who carefully read a special book (more than 400 pages in small, compact type).

The book contains excerpts from the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda, ancient collections of rituals, which, in particular, describe the wedding of Surya, the daughter of the solar deity Savitar. Indian weddings are very spectacular, and so is Indian wedding cinematography.

Each of the rituals has its own details. For example, it is important with which hand the turmeric paste is applied, in what sequence, and which of the hands is on top when crossing. 

In India, they believe that the union of two people is the union of their souls. Therefore, the choice of the bride and groom is approached very carefully.

Until the middle of the 20th century, the future husband and wife had to be in the same caste.

There is more freedom in the modern world. For example, the bride and groom are allowed to meet before the wedding. For a wedding, a business or festive suit can be worn.

For the bride and groom, a compatibility horoscope is thoroughly compiled, which takes into account the meeting of future spouses in past lives, their character, the forecast of their family life, and the number of future children. The astrologer names several suitable dates, which are calculated according to the dates and times of the birth of the future spouses and may coincide with the celebration of the event in the world of the Gods. Then hundreds of people come to the wedding even in a small town.

Before the wedding, the mother-in-law talks to the daughter-in-law and asks her about her habits, lifestyle, interests, hobbies, and childhood events. She asks a lot of questions to understand the personality of her daughter-in-law better.

Indian wedding takes place in three stages:

  1. Pre-wedding ceremonies

The ritual of applying tilak (a dot on the bride’s forehead means that the groom’s relatives accepted her into their family). For this, red turmeric is used.

Prayer for the blessing of the Gods. In the house of the bride and groom (each separately), Puja is performed - a rite of worship to the Gods.

Puja consists of meditation, restriction of food and entertainment, recitation of scriptures, singing of hymns, food offerings, and prostrations to the Gods.

About two weeks before the wedding, young families begin to worship Ganesha, the God of wealth. It is believed to remove obstacles to success. Puja is performed daily.

Decoration of hands and feet with henna patterns (mehendi). To fixate the pattern, a paste of sugar and lemon juice is applied to it.

Sangeet (from Sanskrit "sangeet" - music) - songs and dances with which women see off the bride to a new life. The ceremony is accompanied by a double-sided wooden drum. The lyrics of the songs include both glorification of future spouses and funny life stories.

The Haldi ceremony is the application of yellow turmeric paste, vegetable oil, rose water and/or sandalwood powder to the legs, arms, and faces of the newlyweds. It is believed yellow color brings good luck.

The ceremony protects the bride and groom from evil spirits, so after the ritual they are forbidden to leave their homes until the wedding ceremony begins. In some regions, young people are additionally given protective amulets or tied with a sacred scarf.

On the same day, the dead ancestors are commemorated in the houses of the bride and groom, offering them pinda - balls of boiled rice milk, sesame seeds, honey, and ghee (clarified butter).

2. Wedding ceremonies

The bride's attire consists of a sari, lehenga choli (skirt and short sleeve blouse) or salwar kameez with chuni (trousers and long tunic with a wide scarf). The groom is made of dhoti (draped loincloth), kurta, shervani (long frock coat with clasps), pagri (turban). The clothes should be new.

Most often, the bride wears a red sari. Red is the color of life, beauty, and purity. In the future, the outfit changes. Any holiday colors are allowed except black and white. Black is considered a symbol of evil spirits and darkness, white - mourning and widowhood.

The bride's hair is anoint with essential oils and decorated with flowers, precious stones, and braids.

The groom arrives at the ceremony site on a white horse (in the modern version, in an open-top car). He is accompanied by a crowd of guests, children, and onlookers. Musicians play national instruments or beat drums, and people dance and sing.

After the mother of the bride blesses the future son-in-law (puts tilak on his forehead), the groom goes to the place of the wedding ceremony - a special tent, in the center of which a sacrificial fire burns.

Next comes Jai Mala - the young people exchange garlands of flowers as a sign of accepting each other as husband and wife. Wreaths usually consist of various types of jasmine and tulsi leaves (a type of basil).

Ceremonies are performed by parents, grandparents, and invited brahmins (priests) who know what to put where, when to light it up, and what words to pronounce.

Everything is complicated by the fact that after each ceremony, guests certainly want to be photographed with the bride and groom. At modern weddings, a special time is sometimes allocated for this - the bride and groom stand in the photo zone, and the guests congratulate them. In this case, a wedding photographer NJ can take photos of all guests. It is customary to give money for a wedding.

After the exchange of wreaths, the time comes for rituals surrounded by the parents of the bride and groom.

Next, the hands of the newlyweds are tied with strips of cloth, and the Brahmin worships Ganesha.

As a sign of the inviolability of marriage, the ends of the clothes of the bride and groom are also tied. Then the newlyweds go from three to seven sacred circles around the sacrificial fire (in different regions - in different ways). The bride leads the first three circles, the groom leads the next four. The knot on clothes is not recommended to be untied even after the wedding.

3. Final rituals

The groom puts a sindoor for the first time - a red mark on the parting of a married woman.

In the future, Indian women color the parting on their own. Sometimes with lipstick.

Wearing a mangalsutra, a wedding necklace that the groom presents as a sign of love for the bride is also considered a sign of marriage. It is believed that in this way he protects his wife from evil spirits.

With regard to wearing the symbols of marriage - sindoor, special bracelets, a ring on the leg, there are no strict rules now. Moreover, among Indians, there is now a widespread movement against the oppression of women. However, some believe that following the traditions helps to better understand the culture of India.

After the main rituals, the newlyweds treat each other with sweets and receive a blessing from the brahmin, parents, and close relatives. Further, a rich treat awaits guests.

The bride says goodbye to her parents and moves permanently to her husband's house. A woman throws rice over her shoulders - as a sign of a wish for prosperity in the parental home.

Life Style