There is definitely nothing like the “big, fat, Indian wedding.”
In India, marriage symbolizes a union of not just two individuals, but also two families and extended familes. Though arranged marriage is still the norm, cosmopolitan Indians have become more open-minded to love marriages. Regardless, the traditions of Hindu weddings are still more intact despite the changing times.
Months before the wedding, is the engagement ceremony. Elders of both families give the couple gifts of jewelry and clothing. Sometimes, rings are exchanged between bride and groom.
Pre-wedding ceremonies include turmeric-oil-water bath for the bride and groom. Next is the bride’s mehendi ceremony, wherein her hands and feet are decorated using Henna. It is believed that the darker and deeper the color produced, the more loved the bride will be by her husband and mother in-law.
The Bride’s wedding attire is always an elaborately designed sari or lehenga, which is adorned by silver and gold. A red attire is auspicious and is a sign of prosperity, fertility and marital bliss.
The Groom wear a dhoti, which is just as grand and finely embroidered outfit.
The guests also wear grand clothes, making the entire affair very colorful.
The Bride’s Jewelry
The bride is adorned by traditional fine jewelry treasures. Aside from accentuating the feminine beauty, jewelry has always been linked to wealth, power and status. Hence, gifting the couple jewelry symbolizes best wishes to the newly-weds. Certain ornaments, such as mangalsutra, nath (nose ring) and toe rings, quintessential for married Indian women. From the practice of generations, these gifts are still continuing without any abruption. Jewelry gifted to women at the time of her marriage is called ‘stridhan’ i.e. wealth of women, which in short is symbol of wealth, power and femininity.
The wedding ceremony itself lasts for 3 hours. The rituals vary in every region. Though, a remarkable tradition is the Sapthapadi which means taking seven steps together. It is believed that if one follows the seven steps with another person, it is considered as a confirmation of their eternal friendship. Thus in a wedding this symbolizes that the bride and the groom will keep up their friendship for life and also partake equally in both good and bad times.
The wedding culminates with the groom applying vermillion or kumkum to the bride’s forehead, welcoming her as his partner for life. This is the first time that kumkum is applied to the forehead of woman, when the bridegroom himself adorns her with it.