Full of color, joy, and beauty, an Indian wedding ceremony is one of the most elaborate affairs in the world. Each is unique, drawing on national, regional, and family traditions that may date back thousands of years or just a few generations. From flashy dance numbers to plentiful gift exchanges, these lively celebrations are also full of deep symbolism. Here are explanations for five customs that will make you laugh, cry, or just say, “Aww!”
The Beautiful Meaning Behind these 5 Traditional Indian Wedding Customs..
The Sangeet Ceremony
Usually hosted by the brides’ family, Sangeet is essentially a giant party the night before the wedding. If you’ve watched YouTube videos of Indian wedding dances, you’ve probably seen parts of Sangeet. While throwing a big party may not seem very symbolic, these events happen so that the bride’s and groom’s families can get to know each other before joining together. In fact, Sangeet literally means “sung together”, and focuses on song and dance numbers performed by various family members. The party is symbolic not just of the joy of love, but also the familial bonds that are formed when a couple joins together.
The Tilak Ceremony
Tilak is also a ceremony that welcomes two different families together and is usually held at the groom’s home. The bride’s male family members assemble various gifts, such as fruit, clothing, and other goods and present them to the groom as a celebration that he will be joining their family. In return, the groom’s family will send gifts to his fiancé’s family in thanks.
An Indian wedding ceremony is actually made up of many different ceremonies. Together, these rituals can last several hours and include dozens of symbolic and spiritual gestures. One of these gestures is the exchanging of garlands during Jai Mala. The bride and groom give each other garlands of flowers, much like couples in Western cultures exchange rings. The act expresses the desire of each person to join with the other.
Another ceremony that symbolizes the joining of the couple is Saptapadi. Saptapadi is a ritual in which couples have their clothing tied together. In the Southern Indian tradition, the couple walks together in this way for several steps to signify their friendship, which the Indian concept of marriage is based upon. In the Northern Hindu tradition, the couple makes seven trips around a ceremonial fire together, each trip a request for a specific blessing from the gods.
The Vidai Ceremony
In India, a wedding is a joyous time of new beginnings, but also the end to a bride’s life under her parent’s roof. Traditionally, a married woman will move into her husband’s household, but because girls represent prosperity and wealth in Indian culture, a bride’s departure from her family can be a precarious time.
To combat negativity, the Vidai ceremony is held. The day after her wedding, a bride will say goodbye to her family in the doorway of their home. She’ll throw rice and coins back into the house to signify she is paying her parents back for everything they have given her, and that she is leaving them with prosperity. The bride’s father then takes her by the hand and walks her to her husband’s car, which will carry her to her new home.
Indian wedding ceremonies may have a reputation for being glamorous affairs focused on material things like parties and gifts, but each part of the days-long tradition has a beautiful meaning behind it.Planning a wedding in India means choosing which ceremonies to include.
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