If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience an Indian Wedding you’ll know just how special and extravagant they are.
A traditional Indian wedding will last for an average of three days, incorporating different ceremonies and lots of celebrations.
Dui has been lucky to attend many Indian weddings over the years, and her son Charlie was even chosen to ride with the groom in the Baraat procession at one of them. Like everything in India that’s special to Dui, she wanted to give you a little insight as to how the multi-day Indian wedding celebrations typically roll.
The Ganesh Puja is the first ceremony performed at a Hindu wedding and is usually held the day before the wedding to bless the proceedings. The Puja (prayer) invokes Lord Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god who is believed to be the destroyer of all obstacles and evils and is performed for good luck for both the couple and their families. All auspicious ceremonies in the Hindu religion commence with a prayer to Lord Ganesh, and for the newlyweds, it prepares them for new beginnings.
The Pithi ceremony is a ritual that brings good luck and is usually performed separately in the bride and grooms own homes. Pithi is a thick yellow paste made up of Tumeric, rose water and chickpea flour paste that is applied to the bride and groom's skin, which brightens the skin tone and brings
blessings upon the couple.
The day before the wedding the Mehndi ceremony occurs, when the bride and her female family members gather to have intricate henna patterns drawn on their hands and feet. The henna designs symbolise joy, beauty, spiritual awakening and offering. It’s believed the deeper the colour, the stronger the bond between bride and groom, and the deeper the henna, the better the relationship will be with your mother in law (and we know how important that is!). For this reason, Indian brides will let their henna dry for up to eight hours to ensure a rich, deep dark colour.
That evening the families will throw a Sangeet, which is an informal celebration where the bride and grooms families, and usually all the wedding guests, are invited along to attend. The Sangeet involves the introduction of the bride and grooms families, mingling, a meal, dancing and other performances.
The Baraat is a procession where the groom is led to the wedding venue typically on a white horse, known as a Ghodi, but sometimes the groom may choose an elephant rather than a Ghodi. Family members adorn the Ghodi with embellishments to match the groom. Surrounded by friends and family dancing and singing, the groom meets his bride's family at the entrance of the wedding venue. Meanwhile, the bride may be found secretly watching the procession from afar.
Once the groom has arrived, he is greeted by the bride's mother and the families embrace and greet each other with floral garlands, before the groom is escorted to the Mandap (altar) to await his bride. The Mandap is similar looking to a Jewish Chuppah and consists of four pillars and a canopy. The four pillars represent the four parents, and at the centre of the Mandap burns a sacred fire called the Agni.
Once the bride is escorted to the mandap, she exchanges floral neck garlands with her groom which symbolise their acceptance of the union. This is known as Jai Mala.
After the bride and groom have exchanged garlands, the Lighting of the Agni occurs. This is when the priest lights the sacred fire, or Agni, which symbolises the witness of the divine.
Once the bride's parents have given her away, which is known as the Kanya Daan ceremony, the bride and groom join hands and circle around the Agni four to seven times, keeping in mind the four pillars to a happy life. These pillars represent duty to each other, family and God, prosperity, energy and passion, and salvation. This is called Mangal Phera.
The couple then takes seven sacred steps together, the Saptapadi, with each step representing a sacred vow, symbolising a happy, faithful and prosperous life.
The groom then applies a red powder to the centre of the brides forehead and ties a black and gold beaded necklace around her neck, this symbolising her new status as a married woman and his vow to always protect her.
Finally, the priest offers his blessings and the party celebration can begin!
And we all know what a wedding reception is like…. FUN FUN FUN!
Let’s hope one day we get to experience the joy, colour and atmosphere of an Indian wedding.