What comes to your mind when you think of Indian weddings? Grandeur! Extravagant!Opulent! Vibrant! We can keep on saying more and more and more about our Indian weddings as they happen as a festival in our country. In real the Indian wedding has something more than just this gloss and glamour. It consists of several rituals, which is considered a very serious affair than any other weddings happening in any part of the world. Marriage in India is considered as a serious religious ritual than just a social affair as in the West. Indian wedding is a mixture of Tradition, morals, and celebrations. In India, a wedding is not just an even but is an expressive affair where 2 souls merge. Even though there are many distinctions in an Indian wedding, the one thing which bridges the gap is a lovely portrayal of love, commitment, concern, and emotion.
It all starts with the formal engagement ceremony which usually takes place 5-6 months before the wedding where the parents of the bride and groom sit together with a pundit and exchange Thambulam which means acceptance of marriage from both the sides. On this event, an auspicious day for marriage is anticipated by the pundit who reads a prepared wedding invitation on the front of god and guests.
Though this procedure may sound simple, you would be surprised to watch how today’s engagements take place in a very lavish way. Earlier those days engagements happen in a very simple way either in the groom’s or bride’s house, but nowadays it mostly takes place in a wedding hall or a 5-star hotel in a luxurious way with a grand feast at the end.
The bride and groom are dressed up in a very elegant and attractive attire and so is their family members. There is a separate set of shopping done for engagement where it is a tradition for the bride and groom’s family to gift each other clothes and jewellery.
According to Hindu traditions, the bride wears the saree which the groom’s family gifts for her engagement which is also considered one way of conveying the acceptance from the family.
Engagement ceremonies are usually uniform across many religions but slightly differ in their subtle nuances and rituals. In certain religions, it is considered as a formal announcement of betrothal, but according to Hindus, that is when the official date of the marriage is fixed. In some cultures, it is mostly just 2-3 days prior weddings, whereas in others it is even 1 year prior to the wedding. Some Indian cultures do exchange rings, whereas some others do not.
Then they go for another set of wedding shopping where the bride’s side shop for all the jewellery and vessels which needs to be given as dowry on the day of the wedding. This mostly includes household equipment, silk sarees, jewellery and gifts which need to be given to the guests and relatives. The groom’s side doesn’t have much to do other than purchasing his wedding attire and dress for family members.
Though its just a one day event, it is considered as a celebration and people in India spend lavishly on everything starting from the mandapam to the thambulam bag which is given to guests while they leave. In some Indian tradition, they give away silver coins as a token of accepting the invite and attending the wedding to the guests.
The Mehendi function is one more pre-wedding event which is done by North Indian cultures but is now even the South Indians have started conducting it. It has become an integral part of a wedding and cannot be imagined without it. It implores the 16 adornments of the bride and is believed her beauty is incomplete without it. After the Mehendi is applied to the bride, she isn’t supposed to leave the house until the marriage so this ceremony usually takes place a day before the marriage. This is usually a private affair and takes place in the presence of family members, relatives and friends mostly. Some people celebrate it even in a much grander manner, it all depends upon the individual choice. This event is also organized by the bride’s family.
Another most prominent pre-wedding event is the Sangeet. It is when the two families unite for the celebration for their children. It is considered as a warmup before all the hectic wedding day is about to begin. The tradition is that the women of the families surround the bride and groom and sing songs with dolak and spoons used for creating sounds. The women of the households also dance, along with bride participating in the event. Sangeet is usually celebrated by the bride and groom’s family in a common venue. A Grand stage is put up where all the performances take place. Today’s sangeet happens even with choreographers with prior preparations for dance steps. The brothers and sisters from both sides perform together either a dance or skit depicting a situation about the wedding and finally the bride and groom perform for a romantic number. It is an NRI or a wedding of big businessmen even celebrities are invited to Sangeet to perform.
Finally comes the most expected big day, the wedding day. The mandap is well decorated with beautiful flowers and the agni is set in the middle with shastriyars performing the mantras. The bride and groom are dressed in a beautiful vibrant traditional attire and are made to sit in the front of the agni kundam and recite the mantras along with the shastriyars. Kaniyadan takes place where the Bride’s father formally vow his daughter to the in-laws and the mangalsutra is tied which means the 90 percent of the marriage is over. Finally the wedded bride and groom come around the agni 7 times assuring 7 different promises and this makes them husband and wife. Lastly they get the blessings of the parents and elders from their family to lead a happy life till the end which marks the end of the wedding day.
The next final event is Reception which is also conducted as a pre-wedding or post-wedding event according to convenience. Mostly Mehendi, sangeet and the wedding day is witnessed by very close friends and family members, but for Reception each and every know friend and acquaintances are invited and are given a grand dinner as a wedding treat. Similar to Sangeet Reception also takes place with music and dance with professional singers or Djs. The couple is blessed by everyone and a fulfillment of a complete wedding is attained to parents as well as the couples themselves. This is how big and special a wedding day is celebrated in India. People on this occasion click as many photos they want by hiring professional photographers to capture every single memory on every single day. They make these pictures into an album and some photos in beautifully framed portraits and preserve them for life. Afterall what is a celebration without pictures and lifelong memories..