Types of Indian Weddings13 min read
“Marriages are made in heaven, but they are brought to life on Earth”
An Indian wedding is the perfect example of the celebration of love and life. In a country like India, where culture, tradition, and rituals are deeply ingrained within each person, their weddings are no different. Each state and community has their own set of beliefs and traditions when it comes to a wedding, which sets them apart from other communities. These traditions and rituals are held onto very closely, even if newer trends and modern events are making an entry. However, what is common to each wedding is vibrancy, music, dance, and fun-filled extravaganza.
Across the country, wedding rituals can be pretty divergent and different depending on which community and religion one belongs to. Let us take a look at 7 types of Indian weddings you should definitely attend.
1. Hindu Weddings
Hindu weddings are a celebration of love and commitment, dipped heavily in tradition and rituals. A Hindu wedding takes place in a span of 3-4 days, and each day a special ceremony takes place. The first ceremony to take place is the Sangeet, where all the family members come together to sing dance and give choreographed performances. On the same day, the mehndi ceremony is held where the hands and feet of the bride along with other female guests is adorned with intricately designed henna. It is said that darker the henna, the greater his husband will love her. On the morning of the wedding day, the Haldi ceremony takes place, where a paste of Haldi or turmeric is applied on the face and body of both the bride and groom, at their respected places to ensure the bride and groom is blessed with glowing skin.
The bride is the led to the wedding ceremony by her father and brothers, and this is called the kanyadhaan, or a gesture of giving her away to the groom. The bride and groom are seated at the mandap, or wedding alters, where the marriage will take place. A prayer to Lord Ganesha commences the wedding rituals. In the Jaimala ceremony, the bride and groom exchange garlands to show that they have chosen each other. The groom then ties a mangalsutra or a beaded necklace around the neck of his bride, invoking the blessing of Goddess Lakshmi. The Saath Pheras is a very important ritual, where the bride and groom take seven rounds around the ceremonial fire. Each round represents a promise they make to love and take care of each other in good and bad times. The groom applies vermilion or sindoor on his bride’s forehead, which now is a symbol of her married status.
2. Muslim Weddings
Muslim weddings are unique and filled with rituals. The wedding begins with the mangni or engagement ceremony where the bride and groom exchange rings int the presence of close kith and kin. The next ceremony takes place two days before the wedding and is called Manjha, which is the Muslim equivalent of a Haldi ceremony. Just like the Hindu wedding, there is a Mehendi ceremony that takes place, where beautiful bridal Mehendi designs are drawn on the bride’s hands and feet. The last pre-wedding ritual is the Sanchaq, where a male member from the groom’s family brings gifts and sweets for the bride, symbolizing their unending support for the bride.
The Maulvi performs the Nikaah or primary wedding ritual. In the iIjab-e-Qabool, which is the most important Muslim wedding ritual, the bride and groom are kept separate from each other by a hijab, the priest asks for the consent of the couple. To which they have to respond with ‘Qabool hai’ thrice. In Islam, marriage is a contract. The Nikaah Nama is the official marriage contract, which is recited by the priest to the bride and groom. Once the contract is signed, the marriage vows are read out from the Quran, and finally, the newly-wed bride and groom are blessed by the elders, known as Durud.
3. Christian Weddings
Of the lot, Christian weddings are the most simple in terms of rituals and ceremonies. They are short sweet and elegant, as all the wedding ceremonies are wrapped up within 2-3 days. Similar to the Haldi and Manjha ceremony in Hindu and Muslim weddings respectively, a Christian wedding begins with the Roce ceremony, where instead of turmeric paste; coconut milk is applied to the face and body of the bride and groom. Bachelor and Bachelorette parties are an important ceremony, where the bride and groom celebrate the last day of their single life with their respective friends, dancing, attending clubs, and making a memory.
On the day of the wedding, the bride arrives at the church by a car sent from the groom’s side. At the entrance, she is received by her father, who walks her down the church aisle and hands her over to the groom, who is waiting for her with the priest at the church altar. The bride and groom prepare a list of vows, which they recite as a promise to each other. The priest then asks if the groom takes the bride to be his lawfully wedded wife, to which the groom replies with “I do”. The same question is then posed to the bride and she too replies with “I do”. The priest ends the wedding ceremony with the proclamation, I now pronounce you man and wife”. The bride and groom seal the deal with a kiss, as the congregation cheers them on.
An important post-wedding ceremony is the bouquet toss. In this, the bride tosses her bouquet backward at her bridesmaids, and whichever bridesmaid catches it, is said to be the next to get married.
Punjabi people by nature are fun, loud, and extravagant. Their weddings have a similar vibe and are full of dance, music, food, and beer. There is a long list of pre-wedding rituals that are specific to Punjabi wedding; let us take a quick peek at them.
Roka/Thaka: The bride’s family visits the groom’s family with traditional gifts and sweets. This is called Roka. This ritual symbolizes that the bride and groom have finalized each other for marriage. When the groom’s family visits the bride, it is called Thaka.
Sagai: the saga or the engagement party is where the bride and groom exchange rings.
Chura ceremony: The bride’s maternal uncles gift her set of 21 or 51 red bangles or churas, to symbolize her entry into married life.
Gadoli: Post the Haldi ceremony, the sister in law of the bride and groom, fills a pitcher with water from the nearby Gurudwara. The bride and groom bathe with this water before the wedding.
>Sehra Bandi: once the groom is ready for the wedding, the groom’s uncles tie a sehra to the groom’s turban. Most of the wedding rituals in the Punjabi wedding are similar to that of a Hindu wedding. Jootha Chupai is a unique ceremony, where the sisters of the bride, hide the shoes of the groom, while the couple are taking their pheras. They will only return the shoes once their brother in law gives them money.
5. Parsi Weddings
A Parsi wedding is known as a Lagan. What we love about Lagans is that it is very different from the weddings we know of and are popular in India. The rituals are simple, mesmerizing, and elegant but span across a week. Parsis take their culture very seriously, and this is properly reflected in their marriage customs. Since a Parsi wedding is rather mysterious, let us take a look at the pre-wedding rituals first.
Rupia Parvanu: The female folk from the bride’s side visit the groom and vice versa. They bring along with them shagun, gifts, and a silver coin, which is considered to bring good luck.
Madhavsaro: This ritual is performed four days before the wedding. Here, the bride and groom separately plant a mango sapling which is then prayed upon by a priest. The sapling soil is mixed with gold silver and turmeric and is believed to bring peace, prosperity and fertility to the couple. The sapling is placed at the entrance of their homes, and after a week, transplanted elsewhere permanently.
Supra-nu-Murat: This can be seen as a Parsi Haldi Mehendi ceremony. In this ritual, five married women beat haldi, betel powder, dates, and a piece of coconut along with some milk in a pestle. The paste is then applied to the bride and groom. Ritual hymns and songs are sung while the mixture is being applied.
Nahan: The bride and groom take a holy bath before the wedding to cleanse their mind and body off any impurities.
Following are the rituals that solemnize a Parsi Lagan.
Achu Michu: In order to ward off evil spirits, the mother of the bride takes raw eggs, rice, coconut, and dates to ward off any evil eyes from her son in law. She then sprinkles water on his sides to complete the ritual. The groom’s mother then does the same for her daughter in law.
Ara Antar: In this ritual, the bride and groom sit in front of each other separated by a white purdah. They are given rice and the priests’ circles around them seven times. The bride and groom must shower each other with rice from over the purdah.
Chro Bandvanu: the bride and groom sit next to each other and are bound together by seven strings. Light lamps are lit beside them and the priest recites the wedding prayers. Their family members, who shower them with rose petals, bless them. Finally, the bride and groom exchange rings, and they are pronounced var and bairi by the priest.
6. Malayali Weddings
Malayali weddings take place early in the morning. Their customs are short, simple, and sweet, without much pomp and extravagance. The marriage lasts for a short period called the ‘Mahuratham’ or auspicious period, which is chosen by an astrologer based on the couple’s horoscope. The traditional engagement ceremony is called The Nischayam. Rings are exchanged during this ceremony and the bride is gifted with her bridal ornaments. One day before the wedding, a traditional feast is prepared. The bride facing east eats this meal. She eats a five-course vegetarian meal with her family.
Now let’s get to the main wedding ceremonies. In the Madhuparkham ceremony, the bride’s father washes the feet of his son-in-law and greets him warmly. The son-in-law gives his father-in-law a mundu or an off-white traditional wedding saree on a platter. The bride will wear this saree for the wedding ceremony. The actual wedding takes place in the temple around the holy fire called Veli. The groom ties a thaali or yellow thread around his bride’s neck after they take three rounds around the fire. The Kanyadhanam follows this, where the father places the duty of his daughter in the hand of the groom.
Post the kanyadhanam, the Sparsham ritual takes place, where the groom is made to sit in front of the bride, facing his back to her. He then tilts his head backward, as to touch his wife’s forehead with his. The groom then lifts his bride’s foot and places it on a grinding stone, which symbolizes the ending of old ties. He then takes her hand seven times to symbolize her entry into the new family. After the Sparsham ceremony, the marriage is declared complete. A small social gathering takes place near the temple to serve Sadhya, or a traditional meal, which consists of 25 dishes, serves on a banana leaf.
7. Bengali Weddings
A Bengali wedding, also called Biye, is a treat to one’s senses. Low on extravagance, but very high on meaning and tradition, a Bengali wedding is deep-seated in camaraderie, color, and culture. A Bengali wedding spans for 2-3 days and has many common rituals to the Hindu wedding. Let us dive right in and check out some Bengali specific wedding customs.
Aiburobhat: This is the Bengali version of a bridal shower. The bride is treated to an elaborate spread of rice, fish, and other vegetable delicacies. Friends and family also shower her with gifts.
Jol Sowa and Dodhi Mangal: On the morning of the wedding day, the bride and groom are taken to the nearest water body to fill a pitcher with water, which is used to bathe after the Gaye Holud, or the Haldi ceremony. Dodhi Mangal is a ritual where the bride and groom are fed a copious quantity of sweets, bananas, and rice flakes before sunrise, as they have to fast until the wedding rituals are complete.
Bor Jatri: The baarat or bor jatri arrives at the wedding venue with pomp and dance, where the groom is greeted with much enthusiasm amidst conch shell and ululations. The bride’s mother welcomes the groom with a special arti, which she touches to the groom’s forehead and then his chest.
Saat Paak: while the groom waits for his bride at the mandap or Chadnatolla, the bride arrives, seated on a wooden stool called pidi, which is carried by 4 male members of her family. She covers her face with betel leaves. She is taken around the groom seven times, after which she is placed in front of him. Amidst hooting and conch shells, the bride finally reveals her face to her groom and they share a loving glance witnessed by the entire crowd.
The bride and groom exchange garlands, known as Mala Badal. The wedding ceremony is similar to that of a Hindu wedding, with Kanyadhan, Saath Pheras, and applying Sindoor being prominent and important parts of the wedding ceremony.
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