The Indian wedding is a unique experience, which you should definitely get while in India. It’s a massive even full of colors, glitter and food. I am sure you know how Bollywood movies look like, right? A Wedding in India is as colorful and incredible as the movie.
What to expect on Indian wedding?
You will witness a wide array of vibrant colors, ceremonies, rituals and sometimes dances blended together in a large celebration. It’s very likely that you’ll get overwhelmed by the bewildering array of Indian wedding traditions, rituals and etiquette. But it’s surely worth attending spectacle, which will leave you beautiful memories. The best way to feel confident is to learn about the custom. I prepared a few information, which will help you to understand Indian wedding traditions.
Indian wedding tradition
The Indian wedding depends of the region (state) – like most of the things in this country: food, clothes, language, even taxes. Everywhere, however, is thought as the greatest sacrifice that father can make and for the groom as an obligation to perpetuate his bloodline. It is called “Kanyadana” or “Giving a girl.” Many people believe that marriage is still binding after death.
How Indian Wedding looked like before?
In early times girls were “ready” for marriage after puberty and later even children could get married. By Medieval times marriage was compulsory for girls, who very often married between the ages of eight and nine. Among those able to afford it, polygamy was common, and rulers would often have one wife from their own region and other minor wives from other areas. Divorce and remarriage were not always possible. Now, divorce and remarriage is possible and non-Muslim Indian men can only have one wife.
Weddings I was attending (in Andra Pradesh) were huge! Rich people had around 400 guests and tons of food. Decorations take millions of rupees away: everything needs to shine and glitter, everything needs to be colorful. The bride wears a lot of jewelry, as this symbolizes the prosperity she will bring to her new family. In the South of India wearing flowers is common. The groom wears traditional costume or a suit. Turbans are also popular headgear. Bride’s dress (saree) can be unbelievably costly and even include some precious stones.
In general Indian weddings are very complicated and involve long negotiations about dowry payments prior to the event. After this has been decided, an astrologer chooses a lucky day. Preparations begin early because marriage is not only one of the highlights a person’s life, but also large and complex social gathering to organize.
Night before the wedding
The night before, bride, her friends and female relatives gather together for a party called “mehendi”, where they paint each other’s hands and feet with Henna, dance and listen to music. Her guests often give the bride advice about married life as well as tease her about her future husband.
Weddings were traditionally taking place at the bride’s home or in a temple, but nowadays parks, hotels and marriage halls are very popular. Wedding ceremony takes place in the altar or “mandapa”, which have lots of decorations and flowers.
Ceremony of the wedding in India
Indian wedding ceremony begins by applying a mixture of turmeric, sandalwood paste and oils which you can see on the couples face and arms. In the past, the paste was covering all the body, but it’s just symbolic. Then the couple have a flower shower, which is a spectacular scene. In general, throughout the wedding I saw the couple having a flowers shower several time.
After this they perform the rituals that will make them husband and wife. First they garland each other and next take seven symbolic steps together representing seven gifts and seven promises. Finally, they say the vows, and the marriage is finally legal! The bride’s father or guardian takes her hands and puts them in her husband’s giving her to him. Now she is no longer a member of her father’s family, but a member of her husband’s. After they touch the feet of their elders for luck.
Marriage ceremony is a long ritual when the bride and groom pour on each other enormous quantities of rice for wealth. Kilograms, really! After every guest has to pour some rice on the couple for blessing and everyone wants to have a photo with them. Imagine how the couple looks like after 4 hours of standing on the stage and taking photos… Good make-up needed for holding smile on the face.
After the wedding ceremony, the couple go to the groom’s house. The bride should be careful to enter the house right foot first for good luck. In the evening and late into the night, the families and their guests celebrate with dancing, music and food.
How can you see Indian wedding?
It’s not difficult to get invitation to the wedding in India as they are massive celebrations where foreigners are more than welcome. Of course, nobody will come to your hotel room and grab you for the wedding. You need to get to know some locals first. Couch surfing may come up handy. You can meet some locals and ask for recommendations. I have been at few Indian weddings as a guest and on several as a worker. What was I doing? Looking good! You might hear about agencies which “sell white people.” More about my adventure which those agencies in another post, since this is a long story.