If you have never had the opportunity to attend an Indian wedding, you my friend are missing out. Indian weddings are extravagant and exciting celebrations that really can’t be matched. I have attended countless Indian weddings by this point in my life, but I still love when summer rolls around because it means it’s wedding season. I have two weddings this summer to attend to, and I’m already giddy in anticipation. Now many people who have not had the pleasure of being a guest at an Indian wedding, have still heard about some of the traditions and celebrations that occur. Most people have an idea that Indian weddings last multiple days, they have a whole village of attendees and that there’s lots of dancing. These assumptions are not far off from the truth, but seeing as we are now in the midst of wedding season, I thought I would take the time to breakdown the aspects of an Indian wedding celebration.
Mehndi Night is generally the kick-off of the wedding celebrations. It’s an evening where close female friends and family members gather at the house of the bride to have mehndi (also known as henna) applied on them. The bride will of course get a special treatment, and often has the mehndi applied to both her hands and feet, which requires her to sit still for hours on end. It’s believed by many that the darker the colour of the bride’s mehndi, the deeper the groom’s love for his bride. While the women are having the mehndi applied, there’s also usually lots of singing, dancing and good food to go around.
The mehndi night is usually followed by the Haldi Ceremony. The Haldi Ceremony is a day where the friends and family of the bride and groom will take turns rubbing a mixture of turmeric, oil and water on to the skin and clothes of the bride and groom. The mixture is meant to both bless the couple, as well as moisturize their skin. However this ceremony usually ends up turning into a hilarious playful fight, as kids begin slathering it on the couple and the couple begin to rub the mixture back on their friends and family.
Before the wedding day, many families choose to host a prayer ritual, called a pooja. There are many different poojas that families can choose to host, and some families may choose not to host any at all. This really depends on the belief and religious practices of the families of the bride and groom. These poojas can be held at their own homes or at a nearby place of worship, such as a temple.
We’ve finally made it to the day of the wedding. On the day of the wedding, the bride and her party will arrive to the location of the ceremony first. While the bride prepares herself for her big day, the bride’s party will prepare themselves to greet the groom and his party. The groom and his party, called the Baraat or Jaan, will usually enter in extravagance, with the groom commonly riding a horse. Upon their arrival, the bride’s parents will welcome the groom by placing a dot of vermillion powder on his forehead, and reciting a prayer. From here the groom will make his way to the mandap, which is a sort of altar, and the ceremony will begin. The ceremony involves not only the bride and groom, but also their families, in particular their parents. The parents, or parental figures, of the bride and groom, will play a large role throughout the wedding ceremony. The pandit, similar to a priest, will lead the ceremony, involving many many traditions. Key traditions include the exchange of flower garlands between the husband and wife, the placing of a mangala sutra on the bride, and the bride and groom walking seven rounds around the sacred fire.
After all the time and hard work that was put in leading up to the big day, it’s now time to celebrate! The reception will either take place in the evening after the wedding, or more commonly, the following evening. This will be an evening full of delicious food (usually a large buffet spread), lots of dancing and some heartfelt speeches. Many friends and family members of the bride and groom usually perform dance routines, and the bride and groom will shower them with money to show their appreciation. After the food is eaten, the performances are performed and the speeches are read, it’s time to dance the night away.
And this brings us to end! I hope you learned a little something, and that if you ever have an Indian wedding to attend in the future, you’ll know what you’re in for.