Islam is one of the noble religions in the world with billions of zealous followers of the religion. By the holy Quran, wedding is one of the primary duties of a Muslim and an integral part of Islamic culture.
Sunni Muslims and Ismailis are the two Islamic communities having different faiths and beliefs. Sunni Muslims follow the teachings of the last prophet while Ismailis believe in the seven Imams, and therefore is called the “Seveners”. Though the practices of both communities are technically a sect of Muslim, many Muslims don’t consider Ismaili as Muslims. And because of differences in their beliefs, their weddings are also a little bit different.
Like most weddings, Muslim wedding has two aspects, one is religious and the other is social. The wedding ceremonies are usually short and sweet. Nikah which is the significant ceremony of the wedding takes less than an hour.
In this ceremony, the bride does not present herself rather sends her two witnesses to the drawn-up agreement. The ceremony is officiated by a Muslim cleric and involves reading from the Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad. The vows are exchanged in front of witnesses for both bride and groom.
Since the marriage is declared publically, a large feast is served to guests.
Similar to a Muslim wedding, the Nikah ceremony is an important part of every Ismaili wedding. Islamic custom has the bride and groom sitting in separate spaces, not together. They are approached by the person who recites the Nikkah, who is known as the Qazi. The bride is approached first and is asked if she accepts the marriage. If she says “Kabul” no less than three times, then this indicates she has accepted the marriage. This ritual is then repeated for the groom in exactly the same way.
Witnesses aren’t as important in an Ismaili wedding as they are in an American one. However, alimony is! Part of the Qazi’s duties is to inform the groom that, in the case of divorce, he must pay the bride a sum of money called the “Mehar.”
Both weddings are the same to some extent, however, the major differences are between their religious beliefs.
Is it your first time attending an Indian wedding? You must be curious to know what’s going to happen there. Being a part of an Indian wedding ceremony and that too for the first time can be an exciting and joyful emotion. You are going to witness a wide array of vibrant ceremonies, customs, colors, dance, and food blended together in a long celebration. Be it a Sikh, Hindu, or Muslim wedding, you’ll be overwhelmed by the etiquette, rituals, and traditions of an Indian wedding.
This post is your go-on guide to know the basic rituals of an Indian wedding before you actually become a part of it. Read the post and keep things in your mind to make this wedding ceremony a memorable event of your life.
Get Ready for a Three-Day Celebration
A traditional Indian wedding often lasts for at least three days, which makes them more happening. The first day is dedicated to Lord Ganesha Poojan. The second day of the wedding is reserved for Mehendi & Sangeet ceremony. And the last day involves the actual wedding ceremony where both the bride and groom tie a knot.
The Ganesh Poojan to Remove Obstacles
This is the very first custom of an Indian wedding and is the beginning of celebrations. In Hindu traditions, it is believed that by worshipping Lord Ganesha, all obstacles will be removed. In this event, the family of the bride and groom worship the Lord Ganesha. The Pandit (Indian Priest) will honor the deity with some offerings and mantras. The prayer (Poojan) is performed for good luck as Lord Ganesha is believed to be the destroyer of evils and obstacles. An Indian wedding is incomplete without Ganesh Poojan.
Mehndi & Sangeet Ceremony
Mehndi ceremony also knows as Henna ceremony is fun-filled and the most important ritual in Indian weddings. Basically, Mehndi designs on the bride’s hands symbolize luck, blessings, love, and joy in her upcoming life. As per the Indian tradition, the deeper the color of henna on the bride’s hands and feet, the happier and brighter her married life will be. The Mehndi ceremony is followed by the Sangeet ceremony, which is all about music, dance, singing, and celebration. This is the most enjoyable and entertaining event among all other wedding ceremonies.
The Wedding Ceremony Venue
Indian weddings mostly take place at Hindu temples or banquet halls. Apart from a wedding venue, the most crucial arrangement is – Mandap. It is a four-pillared canopy-like structure that is decorated with fabric and flowers. All the wedding rituals like pheras, kanyadan are held under the Mandap.
Groom’s Grand Entry (Baraat)
Whether you are from the groom’s or bride’s side, this is something you should not miss. Also known as “The Baarat,” this is the time when the groom arrives at the wedding venue with his family, friends, and relatives on a decorated white horse. This is an hour-long process that includes dancing and singing around the groom in a circle. In the end, the bride’s parents and close relatives welcome the groom and his relatives with an Aarti Thali (a plate that holds a light lamp, red powder, rice, and some sweets).
The Holy Fire Tradition
The priest, known as Pandit Ji, lights a holy fire or Agni under the Mandap. All the rituals from Kanyadaan (where parents give away their daughter to the groom) to seven sacred steps (the couple moves seven times around the Agni) to Sindoor (the groom fills red-orange powder to the bride’s middle hair partition) and Mangalsutra ceremony (the groom ties a black and gold beaded necklace on the bride’s neck) takes place in front of the Agni. The whole ceremony lasts for about two to four hours.
A Food Fest
Indian weddings are also known for their mouthwatering food and unlimited buffets. The latest trend is to have as many cuisines and food stations as possible. With several appetizer stations, cocktail hours, dinner buffets, and dessert stalls on every event over this multiple-day occasion. It is recommended that you taste a bit of everything to enjoy different Indian delicacies.
After the wedding ceremony, the families of newlyweds throw a splendid reception for all the guests to enjoy the gala event and bless the couple. This celebration includes a section where the close relatives and friends of the couple, raise a toast for newlyweds to wish them good luck for their new beginning.
Indian weddings reflect a high-spirited attitude of Indians towards their culture and traditions. For Indians, including Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups, a wedding is a celebration where a couple and their family accept each other in their cultures.
So if you are invited to an Indian wedding, be prepared to enjoy a wedding full of colors, dance, music, and rituals. Take your favorite Indian outfits and jewelry out of your wardrobe and get ready for an enjoyable and amusing experience.