We love looking at weddings from different cultures, and Indian weddings are one of a kind. While there are so many things we love about them, below are 7 of our favorites:
1. The colors. An Indian wedding typically features bright, celebratory colors. Vibrant colors and tons of jewelry are the trademarks of a traditional Indian wedding. Neutrals are a no-no; eye-catching dresses or saris are the typical attire.
2. The timeline. A traditional Indian wedding is quite the party; it lasts three days! Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to hang around the whole time—the first night is for the bride, groom and their families only, when the priest performs the ganesh pooja. The second day is the mehndi ceremony, which is when brides and their female family members have those intricate henna drawings you might have seen before done on their hands and feet. The second night is when the wedding guests attend; it’s the Sangeet, and it involves a meal and dancing. Day three is is when the main ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception occur. Your invitation will let you know which parts of the wedding you’re invited for.
3. The music. Bhangra, a Punjab folk dance, is an Indian wedding tradition. More traditional weddings may have instruments such as a sitar, dhol, or table playing, but more modern weddings could just as easily have a DJ or Western band. Indian weddings are definitely a party—prepare to be dancing the night away!
4. The food. India is a very diverse country, and different food will be served at different ceremonies, just like a more Western wedding. Samosas (puff pastries filled with savory meats), are traditional Indian wedding food fare, as is naan, a type of bread, and kulfi, an Indian ice cream.
5. The ceremony itself. In a traditional Indian wedding, the groom comes in on a white horse with guests dancing around him to the beat of a dhol, which is an Indian drum. The bride’s family welcomes them with sweets as a symbol of good tidings. The couple exchanges floral necklaces to symbolize their mutual consent, and the priest, bride, groom and bride’s parents sit under a canopy called a mandap. After the bride’s parents symbolically give her away, the couple circles a small fire and then takes the “seven steps” while reciting a set of vows:
With the first step, we will provide for and support each other. With the second step, we will develop mental, physical & spiritual strength. With the third step, we will share the worldly possessions. With the fourth step, we will acquire knowledge, happiness and peace. With the fifth step, we will raise strong and virtuous children. With the sixth step, we will enjoy the fruits of all seasons. With the seventh step, we will always remain friends and cherish each other.
6. The symbols. Indian weddings are full of interesting symbols. One in particular is the sacred fire, which symbolizes light and power. During the ceremony, the bride and groom circle the sacred fire four times while the groom recites some poetic words:
I am the sky, you are the earth. I am the thought, you are the speech. I am the fire and you are the fuel. I am the song, you are the verse; I am the ocean, you are the shore. I am the strength but you are the beauty. I am the Purush, and you are my Prakriti. Let us live together lovingly & bring up our progeny. Let us lead a joyful life of a hundred years. Please ascend this stone and be as firm throughout our married life.
7. The bride’s attire. Indian brides will dress differently depending where their family is from, but it’s often some form of red sari. The bright red is supposed to be celebratory and joyful.
If you’re invited to a traditional Indian wedding, consider yourself lucky! It promises to be an affair filled with good music, delicious food and an opportunity to witness a beautiful cultural ceremony.