Thursday, November 28, 2013
The thing Indians do best is celebrate! Celebrating is done on a grand scale when it comes to weddings. Traditional Indian weddings involve a large amount of preparation and planning. The number of people attending can be anywhere between 500 to 1000. Along with a large number of guests, there are other Indian-specific traditions including entertainment, food, colour, and dance.
Before the wedding, an engagement ceremony is held on a date decided upon by the elders. The engagement is a small event attended by family and close friends. The couple exchanges rings, then they exchange sweets and gifts to each other’s family. The “Mehendi” or “Sangeet” ceremony is a fun-filled event hosted by the bride the day before the actual wedding. Henna is applied to the bride’s palms and feet, as song, dance and merriment fills the room.
The wedding begins when the “Baraat”, the groom, arrives. Friends and family accompanying the groom are called “Baraatis”. The groom can only enter the wedding venue, which is decorated with flowers and red linens, after the bride’s mother performs a ritual called the “Aarti”. During this ritual the bride’s mother rotates a small, lit holy lamp in front of the groom. After the groom enters the venue, the “Jaimala” ceremony takes place.
The bride is always dressed in red, which is the symbol of purity. The bride and groom exchange garland to signify their acceptance of each other. The couple exchanges vows in front of God and hymns are chanted with a priest. The “Phera” ritual takes place where a knot is tied with a part of the bride’s dress and a part of the groom’s Indian suit. The couple moves around the fire seven times. The first three rounds are led by the bride to symbolize her role of being in charge in the earlier part of their married life. The groom, symbolizing his leadership role in the later part of their life together, leads the next four rounds.
“Sindoor” is a red powder put on the parting of the bride’s hair. The bride wears this for the rest of her life as it shows her commitment to her husband. A silver or gold chain with black beads called the “Mangal Sutra” is worn by the bride as well.
“Hiding the Shoes” is a popular game played after the wedding has taken place. The game starts off by the bride’s sister or close family member stealing the groom’s shoes and hiding them in a safe place. The sister demands money from the groom if he fails to find them. The two parties negotiate and bargain until a settlement is reached.
Dancing is a major part in any Indian wedding. After the dance and merriment, the “Vidaai” takes place, which is the time when the bride bids farewell to her parent’s house and accepts blessings from her elders.
An Indian wedding is not only a celebration of two people getting married, it is a celebration of two families becoming one. In an Indian culture, when you marry someone, you truly marry the whole family.
Marcie Costello Photography