Indian weddings, also called “Vivaah” are elegant ceremonies characterized by lots of pomp and color. Known to continue for several days, Indian weddings tend to have large groups of guests, some known to attract even up to 10,000 persons as it is a community affair!
Historically speaking, Indian weddings are arranged, in that the bride and groom meet a few days before or on the actual wedding date, at the altar. It was about bringing together families and friends through intermarriage.
Albeit filled with dazzling décor and heart-warming food, Indian weddings are about keeping to their beliefs, symbolism and traditions as much as it is about bringing the families together. Indian weddings can either be Hindu, Bengali, Gunjarati or Kashmiri, just to name the few.
An Indian wedding features a number of ceremonies. There are ceremonies before the wedding and during the actual wedding ceremony. Those before the wedding mainly consist of:
Misri: The Ring Ceremony
Here, seven married women draw the sign of the Hindu Elephant Deity – Lord Ganesha (Lord of Success) in red powder spread above a bowl of rock sugar. Then the future Bride and Groom and their respective parents say their prayers and the couple exchange golden rings together with flowered garlands before the priest. Then Groom’s parents place gifts on the bride’s lap such as baskets full of tasty fruits to welcome her and will go ahead to feed their future in-laws with rock sugar (Misri) to confirm the engagement.
Mehendi: The Henna Party
Ever wondered about the intricate henna designs on the Bride and her wedding party? A day before the wedding, the Bride invites her female friends and bridal party to a ladies-only afternoon tea. Here, henna is applied to hands and feet to signify a deepening bond to your future husband.
Sagri: The Acquaintance Party
Here, the groom’s female relatives (Sisters, Cousins, Aunts and Future Mother-in-Law) come bearing stunning flowers and gifts to adorn the beautiful bride to be. The Sagri can be merged with the Mehendi, the day before the wedding.
Pitthi is a paste made of turmeric, chickpea flour and rose water. Well-wishers and the families apply the paste on the bride and groom to symbolize beautification of their skin before the actual ceremony.
The Priest performs this ceremony in both the bride and groom’s homes to say prayers to the gods of the “nine planets” in order to bestow blessings to the future couple.
The Priest once again offers a series of prayers with spices and foodstuff to symbolize prosperity. These foodstuffs include rice, wheat and coconut.
Before the wedding, there’s a nighttime party held to celebrate the oncoming wedding. This is characterized by great food, music and dance.
Other ceremonies involve both mothers carrying a clay pot full of water on their heads, in their wedding dresses across the threshold. To chase away evil spirits, a knife is passed through the water as symbolism.
Tips while attending Indian weddings
- Are you attending an Indian Wedding and you don’t have a Sari or other Indian wear? Dress formal.
- Be respectful during the occasion.
- Be prepared to feast and dance, all night long.