Seven Births in Seven Steps-The Colors and Culture of Indian Wedding

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A big fat Greek wedding has got nothing on Indian weddings. It is well-known all over the world that Indian weddings are steeped in ritual and tradition, while also frequently being extravagant (you could even say over the top) and festive. Indian weddings are especially unique, not only compared to other religious weddings or civil ceremonies, but also compared to each other. No two weddings in India are exactly alike.

This is because different Indian families of different regions and different ethnicities celebrate and honor the occasion, well, differently. Whether your family is from Punjab, Rajasthan, North India, South India or wherever else in the country, you likely have your own specific rituals and your own interpretations of them, aside from the personal ways a bride and groom would like to celebrate and make the day uniquely their own.

Although this is the case, there are still common elements that you’ll find in most, if not all, Indian weddings. Indian weddings are grand affairs, which usually last three days long. However, before one can even plan a wedding, first, the Pandit or Hindu priest must consult astrological signs to determine the best or luckiest day for the wedding to take place. If you thought choosing an available day for your church and ceremony venues was difficult enough, add astrology to it and it makes it even more challenging.

The first two days of wedding celebrations are marked by smaller and more intimate festivities. Some of these festivities include a Mehendi party, a Sangeet celebration, as well as Tilak and Pithi ceremonies. The third day is when the actual wedding ceremony takes place. Presided over by the Pandit, a Hindu wedding ceremony is about an hour and a half to two hours long.

Indian weddings are notoriously large because the couple and their families don’t only invite their friends and relatives. They often also invite acquaintances whom they do not want to offend by excluding them from the guest list.

हिन्दू विवाह संस्कार- Hindu Marriage Ceremony

Wedding guests wear colorful garments, while avoiding donning anything in white and black colors. While any bright color is acceptable, red is considered to be the most auspicious color for the special day. Aside from paying particular attention to the color one wears, following tradition, wedding guests of all genders must also bring something to wear to cover their heads during the ceremony.

When it comes to the bride, it should come as no surprise that her wedding attire is extra special and extravagant. While most brides only have to choose one wedding gown, and perhaps a change of dress for the reception, Indian brides have a lot more to consider for the three-day wedding celebration. One could actually compare Indian bridal fashion to an actual fashion show, with both the bride and her bridesmaids changing from one outfit to the next for every wedding event.

The bride, as well as all the female members of the wedding party, don their finest saris and accessorize with spectacular jewelry, especially traditional temple jewelry. The groom, on the other hand, along with the male guests, wear a traditional Sherwani that’s comprised of a long top and pants. They also often wear traditional turbans.

Faux Emerald and Pearl Necklace with Dori

Some many other customs and traditions are observed, which vary throughout India. However, there are a number of the common practices that everyone follows. One of them is the Bharaat, which is the groom’s processional entrance. The groom arrives to the wedding ceremony in a very fancy car, on a horse, or even on an elephant. He then goes to the Mandap, to greet the families present.

The Kanya Aaagaman, on the other hand, is the bride’s grand entrance, with her bridesmaids and flower girls. The Unity ceremony itself varies per culture but the bride and groom often perform Jai mala, where they exchange flower garlands. The groom also gifts his bride with what is called the Mangal Sutra, which means auspicious thread. Before the ceremony is concluded, the Saptapadi is performed, where the bride and groom take their first seven steps as husband and wife.

One thing that is different in Indian weddings is the couple’s kiss at the end. Unlike most western weddings, “you may kiss the bride” is not a part of the ceremony. However, like most weddings all over the world, a grand reception is definitely part of the Indian wedding schedule. Everyone who was invited to the Unity ceremony is also invited to the reception. During the hours-long reception, guests enjoy a delicious, extravagant feast, as well as a lot of dancing and merry-making. While different Indian couples may observe wedding traditions differently, they are all deeply meaningful and mark a beautiful beginning to their lives together.

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