Indian Wedding Traditions

Posted on 20 November 2012 by admin

It is estimated by sociologists that over 90% of marriages in India are arranged marriages (Ahloowahlia, 2009)*. This marriage model has survived for over three thousand years, surprisingly steadfast through changes and modernization of the world and the given the overwhelming media influence of Bollywood that celebrates love-marriages. Interestingly, traditional Indian marriage is ranked as having one of the highest numbers of arranged marriages that still exist amongst the various cultures in the world and yet carries one of the lowest in divorce rates (only 1.1% in India as compared to nearly 50% in the USA)**.

So how does this all take place?

The Match

In the absence of a partner of choice, family members meet to discuss the prospects of their children being united in matrimony, should there be an expression of interest on both parties. Prior to that, a matchmaker is appointed with a given match criteria list (this wish list may consist of various criteria such as religion, education level, physically desirable traits, caste, numerology, horoscope, financial status etc.) and thereafter an exchange of photos by the parties.

Pre-Wedding- The Engagement & The Sangeet

Upon the match, the engagement date is fixed by family elders in consultation with the priest. The groom’s party will bring, with a convoy of close family and friends, a gift offering to the bride’s family. Customary, sweets are offered as well as other precious items such as gold and saree dresses. Hereon, the soon-to-be bridal couple will begin their romantic dating period.

During the Sangeet, which is the day before the wedding, there will be a party with song, food and dance, celebrated at the bride’s home where henna based intricate patterns (called mehendi) are applied to her hands and feet. Here, her other female-friends will also have the opportunity to apply mehendi to their hands. 


The ceremony is kickstarted with the arrival of the Barrat, a formal procession that includes friends, family members of the groom and is welcomed at the venue by the bride’s family. The groom is only allowed to enter after receiving the blessing from the bride’s mother, in a ritual called “aarti”, rotating a small earthen lamp around him.




Jaimala” is when the bridal couple exchange garlands and is considered married. Thereafter, they will exchange vows before God, through the chanting of hymns with the priest. Next, they walk around a fire seven times, with a part of their costumes knotted together. Finally, he puts vermilion on the hair parting of the bride, and he puts on a chain around her neck, both of which she is to wear for life.

Finally, the wedding feast is thrown, a lavish banquet with usually over 500 guests in attendance celebrating more than a union of two persons, but that of two families.

*B. S. Ahloowalia, Invasion of the Genes: Genetic Heritage of India, AEG Publishing Group, 2009
** Divorce Rate In India Divorce Rate In India


10 Comments For This Post

  1. Kendra Helin Says:

    I love very much Indian Wedding Traditions Sweets, eggs, and money are woven into to wedding themes of India. They symbolize, respectively, a sweet life, fertility, and prosperity. The Hindu wedding ceremony includes customary rituals to ward off evil spirits.

  2. Sinthia Says:

    Mehndi has a long history in India, the majority centering on weddings. The role of henna goes beyond cosemetic and aesthetic value, and has a much deeper meaning to the women of India. The night before a wedding is known as the ‘Night of Henna” or Mehndi when the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with elaborate designs. The designs are usually floral with some signifying fertility. The grooms name is hidden within the right palm of the bride, and he must find it before he is allowed to sleep on his wedding night.

  3. Traditional Mandaps India Says:

    indian weeding means full enjoyment dance fun

  4. Express Jodi Says:

    Once the prospective bride and groom is selected by the families and their kundlis matched to make sure that they have a happy married life , the big Indian wedding starts unfurling with its numerous unique culture. Marriage will happen to everyone sooner or later. May be you are busy pubbing and clubbing today but for a happy and secure tomorrow marriage is the only way out. Indian Marriages are not only about the couple, they involve the whole family. The Mehndi night is a festive night in the girl’s family where professional Mehndi artists draw intricate designs in henna on the hands of the bride and other female members. During the Sangeet, professional entertainers are brought to regale the guests. The individuals not only marry each other but tie an everlasting bond with each other’s family. The Shagun is exchanged by the prospective families which consist of numerous gifts to the soon to be the wed couples. The wedding rituals start with the Haldi ceremony that is done to purify and ready the bride and groom for their union. Haldi and oil is poured over their body and hair by the family members after which they are forbidden to leave their house. When any one’s marriage is settled, an auspicious day is fixed for the wedding. On the appointed day the bridegroom is taken in a grand procession to the bride’s house. He is generally clad in white silk with saffron spots on it. He wears a crown of flowers on his head. He is seated on a fine mare and is joined by a large number of men carrying different sorts of articles of pomp and grandeur. He is accompanied by his relatives and friends who are attired in their best clothes. The children wear very gaudy dresses. The procession is generally led by a band. At intervals fire-works are let off. When the matrimony procession reaches the bride’s house, shouts of welcome in different forms rend the air. The Swaagat is the ritual to welcome the groom and his entourage by the bride’s family. The kith and kin of the bride come out to receive the bride-groom and his party and conduct them to a hall richly decorated and illuminated for the occasion. The bride watches the arrival from one window of the house, careful not to gaze upon his face and then comes out to welcome him. The guests and visitors take their seats in the same hall where they are served with tea and sweets. Some who are accustomed to smoke are offered hookas. Afterwards they are led to the dining hall where sweets, pudding, puries and other dainties are lavishly served to them. During Vidai, the bride’s brother is entrusted with couple’s care. The Baraat leaves for the groom’s house are announced with drum beats and is welcomed by the women of the family. The wedding reception is the party thrown by the groom’[s family to announce the wedding and this usually takes place a day after the wedding. Marriage involves all-the families! And the best of all, it Creates Generations! So think guys and hail this medium of happily remaining in a long term relationship.

  5. Express Jodi Says:

    An ode to the wedding songs in Punjabi Wedding Punjab is the state of festiveness. It is said that punjabis can groove to the beats of dhol even if there is no occasion. As such, when there is a shaadi in the house, it given them a reason to sing and dance. In Punjab, there are different genres of songs when it comes to marriage songs. There are categories divided on the basis of moods and situations. Some of the most popular categories include: Gharouli de Geet: These are happy songs that are sung when the pitcher is filled for bride/bridegroom’s bath on the day of the wedding. Sehra: As the Hindu priest ties the sehra (flower veil) on the forehead of the groom while chanting sacred mantras, the close family members sing sehra songs to pep up the environment. Suhag: A fairly popular category of wedding songs, the suhag songs are sung by the bride herself as she praises her of her life. Some of these wedding songs also reveal her anticipation of the approaching life in her husband’s home. In some households, bride friends and cousins also sing these songs on her behalf. Jaggo: Jaggo songs are sung a night prior to the wedding. These songs are sung as a celebrative way to invite the neighbours to the wedding. South Indian Melodies Laali: These are songs of praise for the bride and the groom who are seated on a swing in a ceremonial manner and are rocked back and forth. The back and fro motion of the swing in the ritual signifies the waves in the sea of life while the chains represent the eternal karmic link with god. Their movement on the swing depicts that the couple is together in body and mind that they would together cross the ocean of life. Nalangu: During this ritual, the new bride sings and calls her husband to spend time with her. These songs fill the atmosphere with a sense of merriment. The time signifies the breaking of ice between the bride and the groom as there are several other playful activities that take place, subsequently. While family members break papads on the couple’s heads toward off evil, the bride anoints husband’s body with sandalwood and sings to him. The female relatives poke fun at the couple and the in-laws while singing songs. Adding a Zing of Culture A part from the pre-wedding ceremonies that are replete with the sounds of traditional wedding tunes and lyrics, these days marriages are also witnessing a sort of rebound that seem incomplete without these rhythms and libretto. Live performances usually have the popular singers belting out hit numbers some originals, some legendary wedding songs that set the mood for the evening and get the guests tapping to these numbers. Traditional wedding songs are those symphonies that have bouts of emotions hidden behind, that bring people together to celebrate and have fun and that which any Indian marriage is not complete without.

  6. Expressjodi Says:

    Your Wedding Handbook Get Organised Plan your leave from work Apply for leave work as much in advance as possible. Complete all pending tasks and divide the workload between cooperative co – worker. “This way you can get up to speed real quick when you return from your blessed – out honeymoon” Delegate small wedding day tasks Delegate duties in advance – get a couple of close friends to be by your side during the ceremony to calm your nerves and handle the gifts, some relatives (in rotation) to greet guests at the entrance, someone with a list of all vendor contact information. Have a chat with your photographer Decide the theme you want for the marriage pictures and give the photographer a list of moments you want captured. Pack your accessories and wedding night bag Pack a bag with all the accessories you’ll require to get dressed on the wedding day. This includes jewellery, makeup, hairpins, safety pins, undergarments. Leave this bag next to your wedding dress along with your bag of “just – in – case” items. Also, pack a small bag to carry with you to the hotel for the wedding night. This bag should have everything you’ll need. Besides lingerie, make sure to pack a change of clothes for the next morning, your cosmetics pouch and a midnight snack (since no one seems to eat at their own wedding!) Gather Memories Make a DVD of the days leading up to the wedding “What I’m sure I’ll continue to find truly endearing and entertaining in the years to come is the DVD of my wedding preparation – from the sangeet practices to the makeup trails to some heartfelt moments with my family” Maybe you can include messages from your close friends and family as well. Write out ‘Thank you’ notes A lot of people have worked tirelessly, spent lots of money and treated you like a princess in the weeks leading up to your big day. Make some time to write personalized cards for all of them and give it to each one before the wedding ceremonies begin. Look And Feel Your Best Oodles of pampering This is perhaps one of the most essential and enjoyable parts of your pre – wedding routine. Book appointments at least 10 days in advance for your pre – wedding beauty regimen, preferably at a spa you frequent. Make sure to include a stress – relieving massage to soothe those nerves. Get lots of sleep the night before “No matter what beauty regiment you go through in the days before your wedding, unless you’re well rested on the night before the big day, you will neither look nor feel your best,”. “The last thing you need is a headache putting a damper on your mood.” So the evening before your wedding should be a quite one – spend quality time with your family, eat a healthy meal and get at least eight hour of sound sleep. Eat something and use the washroom before the ceremony. You have got a long day ahead of you. Grab a healthy snack before you put on your makeup and use the washroom right before you head out to the mandap” Focus on your husband – to – be If, in spite of your best efforts, things get too chaotic, try this trick : “Every bride will have a moment of nerves, no matter how perfect everything around her is. It’s human nature. When this happened turned complete focus on my handsome fiancé and on the beautiful life we were about to embark upon together. My mind instantly quietened down and I had a lovely smile on my face that made me look even more fabulous in the pictures”. Maybe you could even give his friend a note to slip to your fiancé right before the ceremony. This could pep things up a bit for the two of you and help ease the stress too!

  7. Expressjodi Says:

    Brahmin Shaadi Historically, the Brahmins in india were divided into two major groups based on geographical origin of the people. The Brahmin groups that lived to the north of the vindhyas were referred to as Dravida Brahmins. Each group was further divided into five sections according to the regions of their settlement. Sagaai The Sagaai or the engagement ceremony symbolises commitment However, the South Indian Brahmin do not lay stress on the presence of bride and the groom in their Sagaai, rather it focuses on commitment between the parents of the groom and the bride. ‘Latto’ i.e., ‘engagement plate’ Which consist of coconut, flowers, turmeric, betel leaves and betel nuts hold more importance, in their engagement ceremony. The Maithil Brahmin bride of bihar makes her wedding affair stand apart by receiving the blessing from the Dhobi’s (washerman’s) wife – a compulsory tradition in the Bihari Brahmin wedding. Haldi In Haldi ceremony turmeric powder is mixed with milk, almond oil and sandalwood and applied to the bride and the groom. In Kashmiri Pandit this ceremony has a twist becuase cold, white yoghurt is poured on the bride as an alternative to haldi. ritual is followed by a special custom called Shankha (shell) Paula (coral) in bengali Brahmins, where seven married women embellish the bride’s hand with red and white bangles, the shell is supposed to calm the bride and the coral is believed to be beneficial for health. Mehndi is also applied on every bride’s hands during the Mehndi ceremony. However, a Bengali Brahmin bride applies alta (red dye). Jaimala After the ceremonious arrival of the groom, the garlands are exchanged between the groom and the bride, while the priests chant mantras. Jaimala is the symbol of unifying two souls into one. But in tamil nadu, “Oonjal”, a unique jaimala ceremony is performed and could be best decribed as a tug of war. In this ceremony, the women sing songs to encourage the bride and groom to exchange the garlands while the uncles persuade the soon to be couple not to Exchange the garlands.Before the ceremony of jaimala, the bride makes a majestic entry in Bengali weddings. Mangal Phere Fire is considered the most pious element in the Brahmin weddings and seven circles around that fire holds the seven promises that the nuptial couple make to each other amidst the Vedic mantras. The Brahmin wedding is deemed incomplete without the seven rounds around the sacred fire. Unlike other Brahmin weddings, in Gujarati weddings only four pheras are taken which are called the mangalpheras where the pheras represent four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Miksha (religious, moral, prosperity and salvation). Likewise in Malayalee Brahmin weddings, pheras are taken only thrice. Post wedding ceremony vidaai After pheras, the bride’s family and friend bid her teary vidaai (farewell). The Kashmiri pundits make their vidaai even more special. their charming ritual, “roth khabar” is performed on a saturday or tuesday after the wedding. In Roth khabar, the bride’s parents send a roth (bread decorated with nuts) to their son – in – law’s family. But the bride accompanies She stay with her parents and returns only when someone from in laws comes to fetch her back. Griha pravesh The new bride is greeted by her mother – in – law with Arti and tilak. The bride, who is regarded as the Goddess laxmi, enters the groom’s house after the groom’s house after kicking rice – filled pot. In Kannada Brahmin marriages, the groom changes the name of his wife in the name change ceremony where he decides a name for his wife and inscribes it on a plate containing rice with a ring. In Bihar, a very strange ritual is performs at the groom’s place.

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  9. admin Says:

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