Marriages are the biggest form of celebration for any family in India. Indian marriages are known for its grandeur, celebration and naach/gaana. Feasts, shimmering attires, huge guests lists are all part of this big celebration. Marriages in India are not just the union of 2 people but also their families, relatives and friends.
The traditions and customs differ in different regions and states as per religions, languages, social strata and locations. eg. There is difference between a Punjabi wedding and a South Indian Wedding. But even in such diversity, there is a lot of similarity like marriages being a costly affair, the color red being prominent, jewelry on the bride, the banquet of food, and the ‘bidaai’ of the bride. We’ll take a glance at some of the common aspects in Indian weddings.
Indian Wedding Customs and Traditions
In India, there are many different castes, religious and regional differences in the type of marriages conducted. But some of the traditions are common among all the Indians.
In India, family is given a lot of importance and parents have a huge role when it comes to deciding their son’s or daughter’s wedding. When a girl or a boy reaches a marriageable age, their parents start looking out for prospective or suitable grooms. Though this practice is slowly deteriorating, it is still a widespread practice in many Indian families. There is a ‘broker’ who plays as the inter-mediator between two families and if both parties approve, they go ahead with other proceedings.
The Indian weddings consists of 3 days – pre-wedding day, the main day, post-wedding day. This again varies among different religious and regional practices.
Engagement and Mehendi
The ceremony of mehendi is prevalent more or less in every caste and region. It is celebrated mostly at bride’s place where female friends and relatives of the bride gather to put henna on bride’s feet and hand. Among the other rituals garland ceremony is the most popular rituals, which is celebrated more or less in every part of the country. On this occasion the bride and the groom garland each other as a sign of mutual acceptance.
It is customary for the bride groom to ride a horse to the house of the girl’s where the marriage ceremony takes place. The boy’s family comes along dancing and loud music played by band of musicians in celebration. The girl’s family waits for the arrival of the Baarat and receives the boy’s family with sweets, coconut and throwing rice and flowers on their head.
On the main wedding day a wedding altar or mandapa is built on the wedding venue within which the marriage is conducted. The rituals, which were performed on that day is totally based on the regional customs and traditions. The ritual of putting sindoor or vermilion powder in the parting of the bride’s hair by the groom is the ritual followed mostly in the northern and eastern part of the country. Rituals like kanyadaan, tying of mangal sutra around the bride’s neck, saptapadi (seven steps), in which the couple moves seven times together around the fire exchanging the wedding vows takes place. Fire acts as a witness of their marriage. These are some of the common rituals practiced in all the castes.
In India, after a girl is married, the girl bids goodbye to her family and as per tradition, goes to stay in her husband’s house. The farewell is quite emotional for the girl’s family as it resembles the giving away of their daughter who spend her childhood and days as a young girl and finally leaves home.
After the marriage ceremony, there is a reception wherein all relatives and friends gather for the feast and banquet laid for the party. All the elders give their well-wishes to the newly wed couples and wish them happy and prosperous married life. This receptiona also differs in its practice across the country. But the celebration involves families and well-wishers of the couple and is usually a moment of celebration.
The system of Dowry
This has been a practise since olden times in India and is the only bane in an otherwise, happily celebrated marriage. In India as in some other countries, the girl’s family has to give an amount of cash as a price for getting married to the boy. However, this is always a big burden for the girl’s family because they have to pay a huge amount as ‘Dowry’. Though the giving and taking of Dowry has been legally banned in India. it is still quite rampant especially in the rural areas and many a times, poor people have to face a lot of brunt because of their inability to pay Dowry. Women in general have been victims to violence because of their family’s inability to pay the demanded dowry. Many protection rights and campaigns against these acts have now started to stop this practise and women are also becoming aware of their rights. There have been cases where they have refused to pay Dowry and this trend is gradually catching up.