Indian weddings

A familiar Indian quote on the occasion of marriage is "Marriages are made in heaven". A marriage is an important social occasion for an individual and their family.

Indian weddings reflect the country's rich cultural heritage and the religious customs associated with marriage. There are several types of Indian weddings depending on the religion: Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh. There are different customs and rituals associated with marriages in different regions.

A Christian Indian wedding

A Christian marriage is initiated with the church announcing the name of the bride and groom three weeks prior to the date of marriage. The marriage is conducted in the church, which is decorated to mark the occasion, and is attended by the friends and relatives of the bride and the groom. The marriage ceremony is accompanied by a group of choir singers.

Christian marriage rituals are brief. Before they leave for the church, there is a get-together in the respective houses where a prayer is said. The bride is dressed in a brocade saree, or a traditional long white gown. The bride, wearing a white veil, is accompanied by her friends and two little girls who hold the flower baskets, while the groom is accompanied by his best man.

A Hindu Indian wedding

Hindu marriages are performed by priests who chant Sanskrit hymns and mantras in front of the sacred fire, while special Indian wedding music is played - Shehnai in North Indian weddings and Nadaswaram in South Indian weddings.

A typical Hindu Indian marriage begins with the selection of an auspicious day and time to perform the wedding. A day before the wedding, the bride's palms and feet are decorated with henna or mehendi. The Indian wedding ceremony is conducted in a mandap, a special dais decorated with flowers for the occasion.


The Indian wedding procession of the groom, the Baraat, is a main event on the groom's side. The baraat, headed by a display of fireworks and accompanied by the rhythm of the dholak or melam, reaches the meeting point, where the elders of both the families meet and welcome the groom with garlands and aarati.

After this the bride, decked with the finest of jewelry, and the groom sit in the mandap in front of the sacred fire, where the kanyadaan is performed. Kanyadaan is the ritual where the bride is given to the groom by her father, symbolizing the giving of the bride to Vishnu. Next, the groom ties the knot. The ritual of pradakshina follows, where the bride and the groom walk seven times around the sacrificial fire. The last stage of the Indian marriage ceremony is the saptapadi, where the bride and the groom take seven steps together facing the north, after which the bride shifts to the groom's left. The couple is now declared married.

A Muslim Indian wedding

Pre-wedding rituals and ceremonies

Mangni - The prospective bride and groom exchange rings during the mangni or engagement ceremony. The bride-to-be wears an outfit gifted to her by her future in-laws. A convenient date for the wedding or the Nikaah is fixed after the mangni.

Mehndi - The Mehndi (henna) ceremony is held at the home of the bride-to-be on the eve of the wedding ceremony or a couple of days before it.

The female relatives of the girl anoint her with turmeric paste. A relative or a mehndiwali (henna artist) applies mehndi on the hands and feet of the bride-to-be, in thin artistic patterns. The mehndi is traditionally kept on overnight to obtain a dark hue.

The event has a festive feel to it with the women singing traditional songs.

The wedding

Baraat - The groom arrives at the wedding venue with his baraat or wedding procession. A band of musicians strikes up some traditional notes to announce their arrival.

The groom shares a drink of sherbet with the bride's brother. The bride's sisters play pranks and slap the guests playfully with batons made of flowers.

Nikaah - The Nikaah or wedding ceremony can be conducted at the home of the bride or the groom, or at any other convenient venue. A Maulvi (priest) conducts the ceremony in the presence of close family members and relatives. The 'Walis' (the father of the bride and of the groom) play an important role in the ceremony. The Maulvi reads selected verses from the Quran. The Nikaah is complete after the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance). Usually, the boy's side proposes and the girl's side conveys her assent. The mutual consent of the bride and groom is of great importance for the marriage to be legal. Neither of them must be forced to enter into the marital contract. It is on the day of the Nikaah that the elder members of the two families decide the amount of Mehar (nuptial gift that is a compulsory amount of money to be given by the groom's family to the bride's).

Nikaahnama - The Nikaahnaama is a document in which the marriage contract is registered. It contains a set of terms and conditions that must be respected by both the parties. It also gives the bride the right to divorce her husband. For the contract to be legal, it must be signed by the bridegroom, the bride, the Walis, and the Maulvi.

Blessing the groom

The groom receives blessings from the older women and offers them his salaam. The guests pray for the newly-weds.

Post-wedding ceremonies

Rukshat - The bride's family bids her a tearful farewell before she departs for her husband's house. The bride's father gives her hand to her husband and tells him to protect and take good care of her.

Welcoming the bride

The groom's mother holds the Quran above the head of her new daughter-in-law as she enters her new home for the first time after the wedding.

Valimah - The Valimah is the lavish reception that the groom's family hosts after the Nikaah. It is a joyous occasion that brings together the two families, their relatives and other well-wishers.


A Sikh Indian wedding

In a Punjabi Indian wedding, the wedding atmosphere sets in a week before the wedding. Shagun is the first ceremony which marks the commencement of activities, where the two families exchange gifts to conform the engagement. An important ritual connected with the bride is the bangles ceremony, where the maternal uncle and aunt of the bride put white and red bangles on the bride's wrists. Light ornaments of beaten silver and gold called kalira are tied to the bangles.

The groom’s procession, the baraat, reaches the bride's house, with friends and relatives dancing to the tune of the music. After the feast, in the late hours of the evening, the actual wedding ceremony commences. Here the bridal couple sits in front of the Granth Sahib. The ardas are read, and the ten Sikh gurus are saluted. The last ceremony is the doli, or the farewell to the bride. As the bride leaves she throws handful of rice over her shoulders.

Article adapted from the Millionaire Bombay website

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