Indian Wedding Traditions and the Rituals Behind Them

Indian weddings are known for showcasing great colors, traditions, grace and majesty. Their weddings are called ‘Vivaah” since their wedding ceremonies can last for three to four days, which could amount to an exclamation for everything grandeur. Their ceremonies are blended with rituals that have deep meaning to it. This comes with detailed wedding traditions of Hindu weddings that can also be found in ancient scripture named ‘Manusmriti’. Their wedding is made of three components, which are the pre-wedding rituals, the wedding ceremony, and the post wedding rituals.

Pre-Wedding Rituals

Shagun ceremony. Once the couple decide to get married, the elders in the families will choose a favorable date to conduct the shagun ceremony. This date will be calculated with the use of astral calendar that is also known as Panchanga. During the shagun ceremony, the groom’s mother will visit the bride and give her gifts, clothes, betel nut, rice and incense. Once the shagun is accepted, the bride has consented to be the daughter in law of the family.

Mangni, Misri or Sagaai. This refers to the engagement ceremony where the couple will exchange rings in front of their elders and friends. Sagaai is a luxurious affair that is like a wedding ceremony. This is accompanied by dance, music and a lot of fun. This ceremony is a mutual agreement between both families to get married.

Mehndi. This event is a colorful and fun celebration that is made by the women on the bride’s side of the family the night before the wedding. A professional mehndi artist will apply an intricate design of henna tattoo to the hands and feet of the bride and other women in the family. The design made for this occasion symbolizes joy, beauty, spiritual awakening and offering.

Pitthi. An authentic Indian wedding will start with an auspicious ritual called Pitthi for good luck. This pitthi is made of turmeric, chickpea flour and rose water that will become a paste. Family members and well-wishers will then apply paste on the bride and groom.

Haldi. This ceremony is made before the wedding. The bride and groom’s body will be applied by freshly ground turmeric mixed with fragrant extracts of jasmine and sandalwood. Turmeric is considered auspicious in Hindu culture and is believed that the Haldi ceremony brings a natural glow to the couple. A raw turmeric stick or halkund is going to be tied to a yellow thread around the bride.

The Wedding Ceremony

Baraat. The importance of wedding ceremonies in Indian culture shows their love and faith in families and tradition. Family plays a key role to all the main decisions in the wedding. The ceremony will begin with the groom, which is called baraat or the groom’s procession. He will be accompanied by his family and friends while they are singing and dancing that is accompanied by a professional dhol or large bass drum player. They will be met by the bride’s family at the entrance venue. This procession symbolizes the happiness and excitement of the groom’s family in accepting the bride as part of their family.

Milni. Milni is the meeting of the two families where the bride’s mother greets the groom with a welcoming ritual. Then, the relatives of the bride and groom will greet and embrace each other. The bride’s family will escort the groom to the mandap, which is a canopied altar where the ceremony is going to happen.

Kanya Aagaman. This is the arrival of the bride and she will be escorted by her maternal uncle and aunt or by her sisters, cousins and close female friends to signify that the bride’s maternal side approves of the union, and they will go to the mandap.

Jai Mala. This is an exchange of floral garlands between the bride and groom to show that they accept each other.

Kanyaa daan. During the Kanyaa daan ceremony, the father of the bride will give the bride’s left hand in the groom’s right hand to start their marriage life. The groom will have to promise her father that he will protect her and be with her through thick and thin.

Shila Arohan. This part of their ritual where the bride will stand on a stone slab, which indicates her entrance to marriage life. Her mother will leave her with advice on how to become a good wife and a good daughter in law.

Mangal phera. The bride and groom will take seven phera around the vivaah homa. Each of these phera represents their marriage vow.

Mangal Aashirwad. The newly couple will be given blessings from the elders from their families.

Post Wedding Rituals

Indian reception. The reception can either happen on the same day or on the next day. The couple will be seated on a stage for all the guests to see. Their relatives and guests will present them with gifts and wish them with a great marriage.

Griha Pravesh. This ritual involves the mother in law applying Tilak on the bride’s forehead to welcome her to her new home. The other elders in the family will also give their blessing and welcome her to the family. After this ritual, it will be followed by different fun filled games that include finding the ring from a bowl of water that is mixed with milk, turmeric, kumkum and rose petals. The winner of this game will determine who will be dominant in the relationship.

Path phera. On the fourth day after the wedding, the bride will return to her family’s house with the groom following her on the fifth day to bring her back to his house. The bride’s family will prepare a lavish feast to welcome the groom and his family.