Hey all, time for something different! When speaking to my driving instructor yesterday, it seemed she knew very little about Indian weddings, and when I told her about them she seemed very intrigued, which gave me the idea to break down the procedure here.
- The procedure now is no where near what it used to be. Services are now more integrated with “western culture” therefore some practises are now ignored.
- Every priest is different, and no two services are the same. Each priest has their own trademark service – so each wedding is unique and not so standardised.
- I am a Gujarati Indian, so services will differ from other places in India, depending on tradition. This is just the way I know.
Usually, the first day of the festivities is what is called a “mehndi night”. This is when all the females of the family meet at the homes of either the bride or groom (depending on their relation) and apply the intricate henna designs on their hands. It is custom for the bride to go first, having designs up the forearm and feet. It is also tradition for the bride to place the grooms initials somewhere within the designs, for the groom to find on the wedding night. This is the perfect place to relax before the hectic festivities to come.
The second part of the main wedding procession is the Pithi. This is when a paste of turmeric, sandalwood and rosewater is applied to the bride and groom at their homes to make their skin glow for the wedding. Only women can apply the paste to the bride and groom, and believe me do they have fun doing this! It is also tradition for the bride to not leave her father’s house once the paste has been applied.
The third day consists of what is called a satak. Sometimes this is now done on the 2nd day in the afternoon, or the wedding day itself. This is a ceremony blessing the marriage that is about to go ahead, with the invitation of Ganesh to remove all obstacles and provide happiness to the marriage. This is done at the bride and groom’s house / venue separately and involves the parents of the couple.
This is the final day – the wedding itself. Here’s what usually happens:
1) The groom Arrives (usually in a very nice car)
2) The Groom is invited into the wedding venue by his family.
3) The grooms family then take their seats, and the groom is welcomed by the bride’s parents. It is tradition for the bride’s mother to pinch his nose – a last joke before he has the uttermost respect from his new in laws. The groom then crushes a clay pot with his foot showing that he has the power to overcome any obstacles in his marriage.
4) The sister and cousins then steal the shoes of the groom, who can only claim them back by offering money.
5) There is a ceremony in the mandap (the 4 post arrangement on the stage) with the groom and the bride’s parents. This is their official way of handing over their daughter for marriage and accepting their new son.
6) A curtain is placed around the groom, so he cannot see the bride arrive until she sits down in the mandap.
7) The bride arrives, usually with an uncle.
8) The curtain is lifted, revealing the bride to the groom. A cord is then placed around the couple, keeping them away from any negativity or evil.
9) The scarf of the groom and the sari of the bride is tied together, uniting them as one unit.
10) The brother of the bridge pours rice into the hands of the bride, which she has placed in the hands of the groom which they pour into the fire the priest has created.
11) The bride and groom take four circles around fire signifying the promise to be with each other, good health and prosperity, blessings, love and loyalty. Then there is an input of humour where both the bride and groom play a game in which the priest will say a word, and both of them need to sit in their chair as quickly as possible. It is said that whoever sits down first will be the one to rule the household.
12) The groom then applies the red powder on the brides forehead and applies a mangalsutra (necklace) to show how she is now married and belongs to her husband.
13) The bride and groom then feed each other sweets, symbolising their first meal together.
14) The couple are now married! At the end of the ceremony, before the bride and groom leave, the bride says goodbye to each member of her family as she now leads a life with her husband and family.
With almost every Indian wedding comes a reception. This is usually the same as most Christian weddings – a night full of food, cake cutting, a first dance and an embarrassing best man’s speech, followed by a disco until the early hours.