Traditional Indian weddings tend to comprise different religious ceremonies and rituals. These sacred rituals can last for several days. According to Hindu religion, certain holy rituals need to be performed in order to seek blessings for the newlywed couple. Indian weddings are generally vibrant affairs and on many occasions more than 1000 guests are invited. The importance of cultural, family and social values play an important role in traditional Indian weddings, hence you can witness large gatherings in these lively events. The weddings are generally arranged after the mutual consent of the parents of the bride and groom. In India, normally parents decide the life partner of their children.
The traditional ceremonies and rituals of Indian marriages differ across various ethnic groups. The Hindu pandit (priest) after assessing the kundli (birth date and time) of the groom and bride decides an appropriate date for the marriage. If the kundli does not match, then he may also cancel the wedding or may tell the parents of the groom or bride to look for other compatible life partner.
(Hindu Pandit performing sacred rituals)
Three important rituals are normally performed in a customary Indian wedding such as mehndi (henna), engagement and wedding ceremony. The wedding begins with parents and relatives of the groom going to the residence of the bride or a marriage hall or lawn for formalizing the marriage. Gifts are normally exchanged at this meeting. Gifts or souvenirs that are exchanged tend to depend according to the religious or ethnic background of the family. The sacred ceremony that takes place at the meeting is known as “Tilak”.
The next sacred ritual that occurs at the wedding is known as "Byaha Hatth". This ritual is performed during the day where all the family members and friends of the bride and groom gather at a particular place where the ritual is to be performed. A paste of rose water, turmeric and sandalwood generally known as “uptan” is applied on the hands, feet and face of both the groom and the bride. After this ceremony, the groom and bride travel to their house and are not supposed to go out of their home till the date of the wedding.
(Byaha Haath Ceremony)
The traditional wedding normally takes place beneath a small canopy known as “mundap”. A Hindu priest is invited to recite the holy shlokas from the Bhagwad Gita in order to seek sacred blessings from the gods and goddesses for the couple. The bride usually wears a traditional red colored saree whereas the groom could be seen wearing a traditional kurta pyjama or sherwani. The family members or friends of the groom might also wear traditional pink or red colored turbans. Moreover, the shoes worn by both the groom and bride must be taken off beforehand when entering the holy mundap.
(Groom wearing a traditional Sherwani)
Family members, close relatives and friends of the groom generally arrive at the wedding venue with a procession. In the procession, invited guests would dance and sing to the melodious tunes of musical instruments such as dholak, table and flute. The groom will generally come on a horse or he might also arrive at the venue in a luxury car or a chariot.
(Groom riding a horse with his family during the procession)