First off, I just want to thank you all for your comments on yesterday’s post. I really appreciated all the different viewpoints. I was definitely coming at it from one angle, and your thoughts helped me reframe my thinking a little bit.
Now onto something I’ve been meaning to blog about before it’s too late in the game…the different components of an Indian wedding.
As you read this, please remember that this is all from my perspective and from what I’ve experienced. The thing to understand about the Indian culture is that there are variations to almost everything you do and celebrate based on what region of India you’re from, what town your family grew up in, and what familial traditions were passed down over the years.
The Indian wedding celebration is just that…a true celebration. It can last anywhere from two days to four or five. There’s lots of dancing, singing, praying, laughing, eating, etc. I’m going to break down the components based on what I know we’ll be doing for my wedding. And yes, I know what events I’m having even though we haven’t set a date yet. I’m crazy like that! Let’s start…
Two Days Before the Wedding
So two days before the wedding, we plan on holding a mehndhi (aka henna) night. The bride and groom’s respective families usually hold there own night of dancing, singing, eating, and mehndhi. Think of mehndhi as a temporary tattoo of sorts. The bride and all of her female family and friends get it done as a way to adorn their hands, arms, and feet (usually just the bride).
Vishnu’s not a huge fan of this stuff. He says it creeps him out, but I really don’t care. I’ve been waiting my whole life for bridal Mehndhi…I’m going all out!!!
One Day Before the Wedding
The morning before the wedding my parents will have a series of poojas (prayer events) at our house for me. They are held throughout the morning and early afternoon, and different family members perform different parts of each. For one of the ceremonies, the women of the family put a yellow paste all over the bride’s exposed skin. From what my mom tells me, the whole point is to bless and purify the bride for the next chapter in her life. Symbolism is a huge part of Indian weddings.
The night before the wedding both my family and Vishnu’s family will get together for a garba celebration (a traditional Gujarati dance). In actuality, garba holds a very spiritual significance and is celebrated right after Diwali (I’ll save all this for another post). But the thing to note here is that everyone will come dressed in colorful outfits and will be ready to dance. Personally, I see it as a way for both the bride and groom’s family and friends to get together and have fun. I’m really simplifying it, but in my eyes, that’s the true purpose of it.
This picture is from my best friend’s sister’s wedding a few years back. If I had to choose, the garba is probably my favorite event when it comes to Indian weddings. So.Much.Fun!!!
The Day We’ve All Been Waiting For…
To be completely honest, Vishnu and I need to do a little research and understand what all the different parts of the wedding ceremony mean. Here’s what I do know…again, this is all me…
– The groom and his family arrive and are greeted by the bride’s family. They all get together and dance (we Indians love to dance).
– The bride’s mother then blesses the groom and welcomes him. Then, both the bride’s parents along with the rest of the entourage walk the groom to the mandap (a mini pavilion where the actual wedding ceremony takes place).
– The bride’s parents perform ceremonies for the groom. Then two members of the bride’s family put a sheet in front of the groom so he can’t see the bride arrive.
– The bride is led to the mandap by her maternal uncles. Once she’s in the mandap, the sheet is removed, and the bride and groom see each other for the first time.
– The bride’s parents then perform some more ceremonies. This is called kanyadan. Kanyadan is the giving away of the bride. My mom always says that this ceremony is going to be one of the most important moments of her and my dad’s lives. In the Indian culture, the giving away of the bride is really emotional and symbolic.
– The bride and groom then go through a series of other ceremonies. The most important of which is walking around the fire pit in the middle of the mandap four times. Each circle symbolizes something different, and once the four circles (pheras) are completed, the couple is considered married.
– Dharma – Duty to each other, family, and society
– Artha – Providing for material needs of the family
– Kama – Unconditional love
– Moksha – Striving for enlightenment
– And finally, the bride and groom take seven steps together that represent the guiding principles of married life or Indian vows…
1. Respect for each other
2. Caring for each other
3. Patience with each other
4. Honesty and faithfulness to each other
5. Building a happy and strong family together
6. Traveling the journey of life together with harmony and love
7. Remaining life-long friends
Annnnnnnnnnd…you’re done! WOOT!
This picture is from my cousin’s wedding. Her ceremony was so beautiful and simple. I’m hoping Vishnu and I can recreate something like this for ourselves.
And finally, the reception is just one big party. If you’ve never been to an Indian wedding reception, I suggest you find a way to get yourself invited to one because it’s a blast! More colorful outfits, great food, and dancing that goes on until the wee hours of the morning. I.Can’t.Wait!!!
Well, I hope this super wordy post provided some new, fun insight! I wanted to give you guys some perspective before I jump into the details with my upcoming posts. My goal is to document the wedding planning journey as we approach the big day. And if nothing else, I think it’ll be something fun for Vishnu and me to look back on.
Have you ever been to an Indian wedding? What’s your favorite wedding event (Indian or not)?