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Some Of The Traditions Of Indian Weddings
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Indian weddings incorporate many different traditions, several of them taking place before the wedding day itself. In fact, Indian weddings are usually held over three days and there are three main ceremonies, but also several other traditions, some or all of which may be included. The three main ceremonies are the Misri, the Sangeet party, and the Mendhi.
The Misri is held first, and is a ceremony where the bride and groom will exchange gold rings, flowers, and say prayers together. The groom’s parents bring a basket of gifts for the bride among which is Misri which is a type of sugar candy or crystallised sugar. In the Hindi tradition, the god Krishna is thought to enjoy butter and misri, and misri is mentioned in many songs in praise of him. It is given to the bride-to-be as a wish for sweetness in her married life.
The Sangeet party is a celebration where the families of both bride and groom get together to sing and dance. Sometimes it is restricted to just the women, and it may also be connected to the Mendhi, but if it is a stand-alone party it may be open to the men to attend as well.
The Mendhi itself is definitely an all-girl affair. This is held the day before the wedding and is the ceremony at which the bride is the centre of attention as she has the back of her hands, palms and feet intricately decorated with patterns with a paste that is made from ground up henna leaves and is a dark brown colour. Over time, the Mendhi will gradually fade, and this is why it is applied the day before the wedding as it is believed that the darker the colour on the wedding day, the happier the marriage will be.
On the morning of the wedding day the groom visits the bride’s parents where the soon to be mother-in-law will wash his feet and offer him honey and milk. While this is going on, his future sister-in-law will try to steal his shoes and if she manages to do so the groom must pay her money in order to get them back in time for the wedding!
There is also the Haldi ceremony where the families get together and spread oil, water, and turmeric over the bride and groom which is believed to bless the couple.
Asian wedding services are nothing if not colourful, and Indian brides tend to like dark red, oranges, and bright yellows and golds. In the Hindu tradition the sari should be brightly coloured and adorned with gold in order to symbolise spirituality, fertility, and commitment. The groom traditionally wears a sherwani which is a long garment somewhat like a coat, and mojari which is a special type of ornate shoe. He will usually also wear a turban decorated with flowers which keeps evil spirits away.
When the big moment arrives, the couple are often married under a mandap. This is constructed on the morning of the wedding and is a four pillared canopy which is decorated with bright colours.
The agni is a holy fire which is central to an Indian wedding ceremony. In the Hindu religion the couple walk round the fire seven times and recite the Hindu pledge of marriage. The fire is also part of the Laja homa where the bride’s brother pours rice into her hands, and the groom has his hands cupped underneath to catch some, while some spills into the holy fire.
If the couple are Hindu, instead of exchanging rings the groom ties a necklace with two gold rings on it around the bride’s neck with three knots. It is called a mangalsutra and is a symbol of a married woman’s status.
Another very emotional part of the ceremony for the bride is the Vidaai where she throws handfuls of rice over her head as she says goodbye to her family and gives thanks to them.
The bride is finally taken to her new husband’s home where the Aeki Beki may take place. In this ceremony a bowl is filled with a mix of milk and vermillion and filled with coins and a ring. Husband and wife take turns to search for the ring and whichever of them finds it four times out of seven becomes the head of the household.
Resource Box: Kenza Creations is a specialist wedding design company providing wedding decorations in the UK. They offer almost all the Asian Wedding Services including wedding stages, mendhi stages, walkway décor, head table décor etc.
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