Indian Wedding Traditions – A Primer and Fascinating Facts

Indian Wedding Traditions

Indian wedding traditions are extravagant and lavish and it’s considered to be very holy and sacred. The traditions differ according to the cast, region and culture but the basic thing is the same. It celebrates the union of the two souls.

The rituals are different for different communities but there are similarities. Indian wedding ceremony starts much before the wedding. There are pre wedding ceremonies as well as post wedding ones. Thus an Indian wedding ceremony often lasts for several days.

Indian Wedding Traditions – Pre Wedding Rituals

It starts from the engagement where the bride and groom exchanges rings, gifts, sweets etc. The engagement can be held some days before the wedding, as well as months before.

Then there is sangeet which is the musical function. During this ceremony all the members of both the families gather together, to celebrate the upcoming wedding. It’s a ceremony where everyone sings and dances to wedding songs. It’s usually organized by the groom’s family.

After Sangeet there is mehendi, the Hindi term for henna. In other words it’s the henna ceremony, where all the ladies of both families as well as the groom gets henna applied to their hands. It makes the hands beautiful as well as it’s considered to be pure.

Then on the day of the wedding the haldi ceremony is held. It is also held at both bride as well as groom’s place and it’s one of the most common Indian wedding traditions. Haldi or turmeric is considered to be pure and it has cleansing properties as well as it’s believed to add beauty and bring glow to the skin.

Indian Wedding Traditions – Common Rituals

The puja – It’s the prayer offered at both the houses before the big day, as well as on the wedding day. It’s done to take the blessings of the higher power, before the bride and the groom marks the beginning of their journey together as a couple. It’s done in almost every culture just the methods and rituals changes.

The hawan – Fire is considered to be very sacred in Indian culture. Hawan is a pit of fire right in the center of the mandap or the center stage. Most of the rituals take place around the havan kund. In some culture havan is not done instead a diya or the holy lamp is placed in the center of the mandap.

The barat – It’s the arrival of the groom with his family and friends. Marriages are nothing less than a festival in Indian wedding traditions. The barat come with dance and music procession. They are greeted by the bride’s mother and other family members, at the door of their home or venue with garland and aarti to welcome the groom.

Then there is the saat phere or the seven vows which is taken by the bride and the groom. There is significance to each circle that the couple has to take around the havan kund.

  • The first one is the pledge taken that they would have a healthy and prosperous living.
  • In the second one the couple asks for spiritual, mental and physical peace from god.
  • In the third phera the couples asks for wealth and earn a living by good means.
  • The fourth vow is taken to maintain love and respect for each other and their families.
  • The fifth wow is a bit futuristic, it’s about having children whom they will provide all the love and support needed.
  • The sixth one is for leading a peaceful life together and they pray for the longevity of their relationship.
  • The final vow is a promise for togetherness, commitment and understanding for each other.

In some cultures only three pheras are taken, while in other all seven pheras are taken. Ultimately the ritual is basically a pledge taken by the couple to lead a happy and fulfilling life together.

After the phera comes the kanya daan, which means giving away the daughter or gift of daughter. It’s a ritual that is present almost in every traditional Hindu wedding. During this ritual the father of the bride puts his daughters hand on to the groom’s hand. It signifies the beginning of a new journey for the bride. From that moment onwards the bride belongs to her in-laws and now it’s their responsibility to take care of her.

Mangal sutra – It is the holy thread that is tied on to the bride’s neck. It’s made up of gold and black beads. And the pendent is usually made up of diamond encrusted gold. It’s the mark of married Hindu women.

Bidaai -it is the final ritual of the wedding where the bride goes to her in-laws place, accompanied by one of her family member. This marks the beginning of her journey in her new house.

Muhurat is very important aspect of an Indian wedding traditions everything from the time the barat enters, to the bidaai has to be done on time. These muhurat is found by the astrologers and priests and they make sure that all the rituals take place within that time frame. The timings are considered to be auspicious so one has to do things within the muhurat. Muhurat is not just confined to marriages it is followed doe may other auspicious occasion as well.

 

At bride’s in-laws place, some fun games are also played, these games are an integral part of the Indian wedding traditions. It’s played to engage the couple in activities and to get to know everyone in a better and relaxed environment. The next day after a small puja, the bride comes back to her father’s place and stay there for a day. This tradition is there in almost all Indian cultures where the bride comes back to her home after wedding.

The Theme

Indian weddings also have themes. You can find lots of colors in traditional Hindu wedding as well as Muslim weddings. You can see light tones in Indian Christian weddings. Thus the decorations are done according to the theme. These rituals might differ but the Indian wedding traditions and values haven’t changed for centuries.

All About Bengali Wedding

Bengali Wedding

Bengali wedding is an extravagant event. Traditionally the festivities lasted for two days but now the rituals are cut short. Like all Indian weddings it’s not just the union of two people, it’s the union of two families.

Indian wedding traditions are very different when seen according to communities. The traditions followed by south Indians are totally different to that followed by north Indians. But they are similar in one term and that is the union. Everyone believes in the fact that it’s not just the bride and the groom who becomes one. It’s the bond of the entire family.

The Essence of Bengali Wedding

Adan Pradan – It’s the first ritual that involves in a Bengali wedding is checking the gotra, which means ancestral lineage of the bride and the groom. It’s done by the priest in presence of both the families.

Engagement or Ashirbaad – It’s the beginning of any wedding. It’s like a promise given by both, the bride and the groom that they will be together for the rest of their lives. The time period between the engagement and the marriage can be a month or a year. It depends upon the date fixed.

Prayers and Dodhi Mangal – When it comes to Bengali wedding rituals it starts a day before the actual wedding, with prayers offered in temples. On the day of the marriage early in the morning prayers are offered at both the houses of the bride and the groom. There is a ritual called dodhi mangal where the relatives of both bride and the groom invite Goddess Ganga for the wedding. Actually, they fetch the holy water and bring it back home, to bathe the bride and groom. Not everyone can get the holy water, so it’s a ritual that can be performed by taking water of any good river.

Gae Halud – This ritual takes place after dodhi mangal. This rituals is practiced i most of the Indian wedding styes, not just Bengali wedding. Traditionally the halud or turmeric had to come from the groom’s place. Along with a fish, yogurt, sweets and gifts, these gifts are known as tattva. Similarly gifts are sent to the groom’s place too.

Sankha Porana – Conch shell bangles are known as sankha. It’s a mark of a married woman, when it is worn the priest chants sacred verses for a long lasting relationship.

Borjatri – Later according to the time given by the priest, the groom and his family has to come to the girls place to get married. Nowadays both the parties come to the venue.

Sindur Daan to Bou Boron – Then the priest chants mantras from the holey text and it’s followed by hawan, puja, phera and finally sindur daan. It’s there in every Hindu wedding; the sindur is the mark of a married woman. After all this is done the dinner is served. Then comes bidaai when the bride goes to the grooms place, but the festivities doesn’t end there. There is bou boron which is the welcoming ceremony of the bride at her new home. There are some rituals done in a Bengali wedding at the grooms place as a welcome gesture to the new bride.

Kaal Ratri – On the first night of their wedding the newlyweds are not allowed to be together. Usually both are accompanied by their friends or family member and engaged in fulfilled activities.

Bou Bhaat & Phool Sojja– It takes place on the next day, during this ceremony the bride will serve food for the first time to her in-laws and their close friends. Now it has become like a reception where the bride’s family and friends also join for the feast. Phool Sojja is the evening reception and the first night that couple is officially allowed to sleep in the bed room with beautifully decorated bed with flowers (phool).

One thing that is very important is the muhurat or the time. In which every ritual has to take place. It’s believed that the planetary moves affect the newlyweds, thus it’s considered as an important thing during every big occasion.

Planning for the Bengali Wedding

Bengali wedding involves a lot of work a whole lot of sleepless nights on planning. Which is very essential, a well planned event is always the one that outshines. As far as planning is concerned the bride starts planning much ahead before everyone else because her dresses are very important. In a typical Bengali wedding the bride requires to wear a sari but that’s up to the bride if she wants to wear a lehenga she can wear that too. The traditional Indian wedding dress is sari but the style of wearing depends upon what the bride wants. So, when it comes to sari you need not fly to India to buy one. There are many designers and stores in almost every part of the world that sells the traditional wear. So, you can buy one from anywhere you want. 

As per the color of the bridal outfit, traditionally it was a red. One with lots of embroidery and work on it, but now the trend is slowly changing. The popular colors chosen by the brides are pink, purple, green and blue. In case of designer ones you can give your ideas and the designer will create it for you. As per the material usually its banarasi silk but you can buy one in silk, georgette etc.

As for the outfit of the groom in a traditional Bengali wedding is basically dhoti and panjabi (aka kurta) but now that is changing too most grooms prefer sherwani. As long as the bride and the groom are comfortable in their attire and they look good together nothing else matters.

Hair and Makeup

When it comes to getting the Bengali bride ready, you can hire a makeup artist and hair stylist who will do the hair and makeup. As for draping the sari in a traditional Bengali way, it’s best to leave that to the older female relatives because they will know it the best. There are beauticians who can do it too.

Bengali wedding is not just about the rituals and dresses. It’s about having a great time together and having great food too. As per the food if you want you can have all authentic Bengali food or you can include dishes from other countries too. The caterer has to be arranged well in advance. So has to be the venue because memories are going to be connected to the place so you should get what you have always wanted for your dream Bengali wedding.

Enhanced by Zemanta