Weddings mark new beginnings and bring together two people and their families in a bond that lasts a lifetime. The beauty of Indian weddings is that each community, each state has its own unique set of customs and rituals that set them apart from each other and yet all of them endorse the idea of a strong relationship and a bond that only strengthens with time. The next few scrolls will take you through the different wedding customs followed by the many Indian communities. Enjoy the read!
Bengali Weddings: What sets a Bengali wedding apart are the rituals of Saat Paak and Shubhodrishti. Considered to be among the most sacred rituals, these also add a whole lot of fun to the wedding ceremony. The Saat Paak custom is when the bride circles around the groom seven times as her brothers lift her up during the same. It is followed by Shubhodrishti, literally translating into ‘auspicious sight.’ This is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on the day when the former removes the betel leaves from the front of her face. Immediately after this, the blowing of the conch shells by all the family members begins.
Marathi Weddings: Kelvan, Shakhar Puda and Pheras are the three main elements of a Marathi wedding. Kelvan mostly involves the bride/groom’s family or friends inviting them over for dinner, performing the Handi-Kumkum ceremony (especially for the bride) and showering them with blessings and gifts for the wedding.
Shakhar Puda is a small engagement ceremony held some hours prior to the wedding. It is also often referred to as Waangnischay, which translates into a ‘verbal agreement.’ The wedding day begins with a Haldi ceremony, followed by Ganpati Pooja, Seemant Pooja, Gaurihar Pooja and finally, the Lagan. This is when the bride and the groom wear the recognizable mundavalya on their heads. The wedding ceremony begins with a big silk cloth being drawn between both of them, and it is removed only after the chanting of the Mangalashtak. A few more rituals and blessings from the parents then lead to the pheras.
Punjabi Wedding: On the day of the wedding, the bride’s side of the family gets together for a very emotional ceremony where the bride’s maternal uncle makes her wear the auspicious red bangles (Chooda). The bride’s sisters and friends tie pretty golden ornaments (Kaleere) on to the bride’s bangle. The bride then shakes the Kaleere on top of every unmarried girl’s head and in case a part of it falls on any girl, it is believed that she will be the next one to get married.
Early in the afternoon, both the households host a simple Haldi ceremony, followed by an interesting, fun-filled Ghadoli ritual where the sister-in-law of the bride/groom carries a pitcher of water from the nearby temple to the house. It is considered lucky for the bride/groom to bathe with that water on the day of the wedding.
The evening mostly involves a grand affair where all relatives and friends bless the couple as they begin their journey together.
Kashmiri Wedding: It all begins with a formal engagement ceremony called Kasamdry. Once the date is decided according to the Hindu calendar, both the families meet and exchange flowers to mark the celebration. It is then followed by the pre-wedding ritual of Livun, when both families clean their respective houses with mud and water, and the Waza (or cook) sets up a mud-and-brick oven for the upcoming festivities.
Devgon, an important and unique custom in Kashmiri Pandit weddings, marks an end to the Brahmacharya period for the bride and the groom through an elaborate Pooja. This leads to the main wedding functions, a feast, the pheras and the vidai.
Telugu Wedding: The wedding day rituals begin with the groom performing the Ganesh Pooja before the bride enters the mandap. Before heading for the wedding, the bride also performs the Gauri Pooja at her home.
Once both of them are at the mandap, a curtain is drawn between them as the mantras are recited. Signifying an unbreakable bond between the two, the bride (in a saree with a red border) and the groom (in a white dhoti with a red border) apply a paste of cumin and jaggery on each other’s hands. After this, a ritual requires the bride’s father to wash the groom’s feet and then hand over his daughter to him. It is only post these customs that the curtain between the bride and the groom is removed.
After the tying of the mangalsutra, the bride and the groom pour rice grains on each other’s heads as the priest continues with the holy chanting. During the rest of the ceremonies and the pheras, everyone blesses the couple by showering flowers and turmeric coloured rice on them.