Indian Wedding Traditions & Rituals, A to Z

A wedding ceremony is not only a celebration of love and commitment but also a reflection of the couple’s culture and religion. Grandeur, style, magnificence, and tradition, define an Indian wedding very well. India, being a home of diverse religions and cultures has its own set of traditions and rituals when it comes to the wedding. An Indian wedding traditionally lasts for at least 3-4 days and during these days several ceremonies are performed.

If you’re going to be a part of an Indian wedding, here is a list of wedding rituals and customs you should expect to see.

The Baarat

Also known as Groom’s Procession, on this occasion, the groom arrives at the wedding venue along with his family and friends. Surrounded by close people singing and dancing in a circle, the groom meets the bride’s parents at the venue entrance. The parents of the bride and other relatives greet the Baarat with a tilak (a red color dot on forehead), akshat (rice), aarti (a plate decorated with lighted lamp), and a garland.

 

The Ganesh Pooja

In Hindu religion, all auspicious ceremonies start with a prayer to Lord Ganesha, the Hindu’s God. It is believed that God Ganesha removes all hurdles as a precursor to nuptials. The Ganesh Pooja involves family and close relatives of the bride and groom. It is performed to be bestowed on to the bride/groom and their families.

The Haldi Ceremony

The Haldi ceremony, also known as Pithi (a mixture of water, oil, and turmeric) is a custom in Indian weddings known to bring good charm. During this ceremony, the Haldi paste is applied on the skin of both bride and groom. It is believed that by applying this paste, bless the couple with positivity and brighten their skin before the wedding.

Kanyadaan

The moment when the bride’s parents handed her to the groom is called “Kanyadaan.” In this ceremony, the parents of the bride put her hands into the hands of the groom as a gesture of giving her away. The parents then pour water through their daughter’s hands which subsequently falls on the groom’s hands.

 

The Lighting of the Agni

After the couple exchanged their garlands under the canopy, the priest (Pandit Ji) lights the Agni or sacred fire. The fire in the center of the Mandap (Agni) symbolizes the witness of viability and divine. Thus, the commitments made in front of this Agni are considered to be made in the presence of God.

The Mandap

The traditional Indian weddings take place under a Mandap (a four-pillared canopy). A mandap is a temporarily constructed structure; decorated with colorful flowers, greenery, crystals, and fabric just for the purpose of marriage. This is the place where the groom waits for his bride.

 

The Mangal Pheras

The Kanyadaan ceremony is followed by ‘The Mangal Phera.’ This is where the bride and groom circle around the Agni seven times by holding each other’s hand. These circles are known as ‘The Mangal Pheras’ or ‘The Seven Sacred Steps.’ Each circle depicts a sacred vow that the couple makes together to spend a joyful, prosperous, and faithful life together.

 

The Mehndi, or Mehendi, Ceremony

Also known as Henna ceremony, this event takes place before the actual wedding day. Basically, this is an occasion for females, where the bride and other ladies gather to apply Mehendi on their hands and feet. The intricate designs of henna symbolize beauty, pleasure, offering, and spiritual awakening. It is also believed that the deeper the color of the Mehendi, the stronger the relationship between the groom and bride.

The brides let their Mehendi dry for at least seven hours to ensure dark and rich color. The henna artist also hides the name of the groom in the bride’s Mehendi for the groom to find later.

Sangeet Ceremony

This is a pre-wedding event which is organized an evening before the wedding day. This is an informal celebration where members of both families come together and dance, sing, and revel in the happiness of the upcoming union.

Sindoor and Mangalsutra Ceremony

After the seven sacred steps, the groom put a red color powder (Sindoor) to the parting-line of a Bride’s hair. Then, he ties a black and diamond (or gold) beaded necklace around the bride’s neck known as Mangalsutra. Both Sindoor and Mangalsutra symbolize the bride’s new status as a married woman. Eventually, the priest offers his blessings to the newly married couple.

Vadhu Pravesh

Whereas, the Vadhu Pravesh occurs at the groom’s house where the groom’s mother welcomes the newlyweds with a traditional aarti. The bride enters the house after displacing a rice container which signifies that she brings a positive spirit to her new family. After this, a lot of games are played between the groom and bride to make the bride comfortable in her new house.

This is how weddings happen in India. All the rituals and customs mentioned in this post specify that Indian weddings are really fun that involves a lot of happiness, togetherness and emotional roller coaster from starting to end.

Vidaai

This is the most emotional phase of the wedding, especially for the bride and her parents. The Vidaai ceremony represents the time when the bride’s family gives her an emotional send-off.