Indian weddings are a joyous occasion!
One that involves the participation of not only the bride and the groom but also their respective families. We have compiled this article to provide you with a few Indian wedding traditions, what to expect at an Indian wedding ceremony, and how to help your guest understand.
- The different ceremonies in an Indian Wedding
- What is typically worn at these ceremonies
- How your guests should prepare themselves for the event
Things to expect:
- Men and women cover their heads during the ceremony-
- The ceremony typically lasts up to two hours
- The bride and bridesmaids wear saris
- Red is typically worn most during these weddings
Let us go over some of the most popular Indian Wedding Traditions
1.Auspicious date and time.
A pandit (sometimes spelled pundit) will consult the family and couple to determine the best date and time for the ceremony to take place. The pandit will consult astrology to give the couple advice on which day and time will create the most auspicious environment. Due to this Indian wedding tradition, it is incredibly common for a lot of Indian couples to get married on the exact same date. This makes planning for these types of ceremony tedious when the South Asian couple happens to be in the US. Not only do you have to make sure that your wedding venue is not booked but also the date must be auspicious and then finally the time must be available as well.
2.Indian weddings have multiple days of events.
The actual wedding ceremony and reception takes place on the third day after two days of family intimate events. The first day is traditionally a housewarming for the couple and their families that consist of games, food, and dance. The second night involves the tilak ceremony which consists of the bride’s family painting her forehead with tilak (also known as vermilion).The third day is the actual wedding day where the ceremony takes place, followed by a reception. Most Indian weddings will incorporate natural light and will opt for an outdoor ceremony, but ballrooms and plazas that support open flames are also a favored option.
3.Red, red, and more red.
Many Indian wedding traditions are centered around the color red. Red was chosen by Vedic culture as a symbol of joy and happiness. The colors of the clothes, the flowers, the decorations, and other wedding accessories can be bright shades of red. This color tends to be the most prominent color at Indian weddings, with a hint of gold accents of course. It is not uncommon for the bride to put a touch of red dye two or three days before the wedding.
4.The more the merrier.
An Indian wedding can be an event that involves hundreds of people, including friends and family from many different cultures and communities. You may want to get a feel for how much you want to spend on your reception, or how many people you might need to invite. A couple planning an Indian wedding will start by calculating the average expenses for food, drinks, decorations, music, and dance. An Indian wedding typically does not shy away from keeping the guest list long.
The South Asian community tend to try to avoid offending anyone by not extending an invitation to those close to the family. Of course, in return those invited tend to feel obligated to attend the ceremony out of respect for both the couple and the family.
5.Fantastic outfits and fashion.
Indian weddings are a huge display of fashion. The women will typically wear the most traditional form of Indian dress, which is the saree. lengha or a midi length skirt with a matching top. The men will typically wear sherwani (a long shirt and pants) paired with a turban in the style of a bindi or dabang). The beautiful thing about these wedding ceremonies is that there is a new stunning outfit for every single event. Each member of the bridal party feels just as radiant as they are adorned with bright colors and beautiful embellishments.
6.The grooms grand processional (Bharaat).
It can be one of the most elaborate entrances at an Indian wedding. He usually rides us with a horse, elephant, or an exotic car. The groom will then enter the mandap and greet the families of the bride and groom before meeting with his own family. This entrance is supposed to display power and wealth as well as tradition. The mandap is a dome like structure typically made of wood but in modern times it will be made of different substances.
Modern mandaps use fabrics, lights, crystals , and other materials ensuring all religious aspects of a mandap which include the four pillars and havan kund which is a fire box. This set up closely resembles that of a Jewish chuppa. With the bride and groom in the center of the mandap, it is tradition for either the bride or groom’s family to gift the couple with a sari and gold. The bride or her family then ties them to the groom which reveals an auspicious moment for all those in attendance.
7.Here comes the bride, and her great reveal.
The groom is not the only one who gets to feel the joy of an extravagant entrance. The bride’s grand processional is just as important to Indian culture. Nowadays, brides can choose from a variety of ways to make their grand entrance. Choosing a horse, Elephant or exotic car are all options and for the more modern bride there is the option of a golf cart or vintage car. The brides bridal party, flower girl and if they have chosen to exchange rings, ring bearer all walk down the aisle in preparation for the brides’ grand entrance. this part of the Indian Wedding is called “Kanya aagaman”. During the processional, she will be escorted by the oldest male relative and will sometimes be carried, yes completely carried off her feet before being given away during “kanya daan”.
Saptapadi or Seven Steps is a binding part of the Indian wedding ceremony. This is where the bride and groom take seven steps around the sacred fire in front of them. Their feet do not cross paths, but they are parallel to one another. The bride starts first and then the groom joins her after she finishes her set by stepping on the other end of their color sash. Of course, the specifics of which unity ceremony vary from wedding to wedding, but another type of unity ceremony is the exchange of flower garlands or “Jai mala”. Another is the Mangal sutra necklace which is what they translate into “an auspicious thread” this is to signify good fortune and a successful marriage for a lifetime.
In the case of the “Hasta melap” a knot is tied between the groom’s scarf and the bride’s sari by a female member of the groom’s family which is to signify that they have been tied to each other in body, mind, and soul for the rest of their lives. In the Indian wedding ceremony called mangal fera (also spelled mangal phere) it consists of the couple taking four circles or “feras” around the Agni or the sacred fire. This ceremony is frequently used to show the four basic goals of life which include: to pursue life’s religious and moral duty, to pursue prosperity, to pursue earthly pleasures, and to pursue spiritual salvation. (Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha).
9.The seven steps (Saptapadi).
this portion of the ceremony establishes the lifelong commitment the couple makes to each other during this Indian wedding ceremony. The couple takes seven full circles walking clockwise around the Agni, which represents the seven principles and promises they make to each other. During this ceremony they are tied together with the dupattas or chunis, which is used to keep the couple united as they make their way around the Agni. Although there is no vow exchange these ideals are meant to be a vow to each other to successfully attain these principles during their lifelong journey as husband and wife. Before they begin their rounds around the Agni the groom takes his brides hand or pinky and lead her for the first four rounds and then they switch places making the bride lead the last three rounds.
Each circle around the Agni is meant to specify a specific promise and this exemplifies their combined effort to making this eternal relationship work. The seven promises are as follow: Let us provide for our household, stay in good health , carry out our responsibilities to each other and our families. Let us develop our mental and spiritual intelligence. Let us increase our wealth and comfort by righteous and proper means. Let us acquire knowledge happiness and peace by mutual love, respect, and trust. Let us be blessed with strong, virtuous, and heroic children. Let us be blessed with long lives. Let us remain true companions, committed only to one another. Again, depending on country and religion these traditions may change in the particulars but in its entirety this ceremony is a vow to one another in hopes that they will have a blessed and prosperous marriage.
10.You may not kiss the bride (Probably).
In western culture it is known that at the end of a wedding ceremony that the officiant typically ends his speech with a “you may now kiss the bride”. Typically, in Indian wedding ceremonies you will not find that at the end of the ceremony out of respect of the elders that may be offended by this act. Conventionally you will sprinkle red rose petals on the newly married couple as they gleefully walk down the aisle.
11.Time to Party!
You may not be able to have a lot of alcohol at your reception. But not to worry, you will have the opportunity to make your guests dance the night away with some fun Indian wedding traditions including fire dancers, Bollywood dancers, belly dancers and some pop music. Traditionally it is best for the bride and groom to enjoy their first dance alone in a corner of the reception hall or even on a stage. Typically, everyone invited to the wedding is invited to the reception. If you have not had the luxury to see a Bollywood movie that ends with a wedding, you should know that Indian receptions have a reputation for being quite the partiers. Receptions tend to start around seven at night and will go on till midnight. At the end of the reception their will sometimes be a bride and groom farewell where they have a beautifully grand exit where they venture off in a fancy car or something of a comparable nature.
12.Let us talk about food.
The wedding feast is considered an important aspect of the ceremony. Traditionally the wedding feast consists of three to seven appetizers, four to eight entrées, and three desserts. Indian cuisine is typically heavy on rice or breads and usually include chicken tandoori, tandoori fish, lamb biriyanis, shrimp vindaloo, vegetable korma and koftas. Common desserts include gulab jamun, jalebi, kulfi and falooda. Now just because it is Indian does not mean it will always be vegetarian or spicy. A lot of South Asian couples prefer to offer a varied amount of regional and non-regional options. Indian weddings can sometimes have a lot of Western food, and it may also have alcohol as well. All particulars vary from family to family and couple to couple.
13.Show me your moves!
Dance moves that is Sometimes during these Indian wedding receptions there is a theatrical aspect to it where the wedding party or guests may serenade the new couple with a Bollywood-style dance. Although not always the case if you do happen to find yourself in the wake of this spectacle it is one to truly enjoy as it ultimately leads to everyone joining them on the dance floor. Sometimes the couple will perform a dance themselves before inviting the party watching to join them on the dance floor. The bhangra is the most popular dance, and it is an energetic, folk dance and music form that is based out of Punjab India. In a typical performance, several dancers executed vigorous kicks, leaps, and bends of the body to the accompaniment of short songs called boliyan and, most significantly to the beat of a double headed drum.
14.Pranking the groom (Ganwaar).
This is a fun tradition at Indian weddings. Someone will pull the groom’s pants down on his wedding day and cover his face with a wet towel. Afterward, the groom is therefore called “ganwaar” or “groom”. During this day you must keep your eyes on the bride’s side of the family during reception, you might see some kindhearted mischief. They will do things such as steal the groom shoes, and demand them money to get them back, if not they may also stop the bride and groom from leaving the ceremony demanding he pay money to walk away with his bride, all in the name of good kindhearted fun to haze him into his newly accepted family.
The Indian wedding ceremony is not only a rite of passage but also one of the happiest days of two individuals lives. It is truly an amazing event to be a part of an exciting to be able to view. Below you will find an Indian Wedding video that we shot here at Falcon HD Videos. If you would like to get more information on all our packages on Indian Wedding videography please click here, and we will hear back from you soon. If you were looking for a list of Indian wedding venues near you click here.