Marriage is regarded as the most important social as well as religious event in Indian culture. The concept of marriage can be traced back to Vedic times. Even now, it is considered to be the most sacred and vital affair in one's life. An Indian wedding, as known to everybody, is extremely elaborate and intricate affair. The wedding related rituals begin days before the wedding ceremony in forms of pre-wedding rituals. One of the most important pre-wedding rituals amongst them is the Engagement Ritual. Though most of the people believe that this trend of 'engagement ceremony' came from the west but if you look deep in to the Indian traditions, the engagement ceremonies exist in one form or the other in different communities of India from a long time. It is known as misri, ring ceremony, aashirwad, and mangni in different Indian communities.
Engagement ceremony is almost celebrated in the same manner in almost all the religions except for certain variations according to their community and family rituals. Generally, the engagement ceremony is organized at the bride's place or some banquet hall. The family and relative of bride and groom gather to celebrate the first formal party of the forth coming wedding ceremony. Both the families exchange gifts, sweets and good wishes. A formal ring ceremony is then done to solemnize the engagement ceremony. The prospective bride and groom are then introduced to each other's family. A lunch or a dinner (depending up on the time of function) is organized for all the family members and guests present at the ceremony.
In some castes (Hindu social groups), members of the groom's extended family - including father, brothers, older relatives, and close friends - will visit the bride's house. In other castes, the practice is reversed, with members of the bride's family visiting the groom's house.
During a sagaai, the bride's eldest brother or father places a tilak (a red mark) on the forehead of the groom, and presents him with a coconut, a gold ring or coin, and some other ornaments, depending on the financial status of the bride's family. Gifts for other members of the groom's family may also be presented.
The groom's family then presents the bride's family with gifts. These include garments, jewellery, and cosmetics. They must include mehandi (henna), glass bangles, hair oil, and a comb. Traditionally, unmarried females were not supposed to use cosmetics, so this gift symbolises the bride's graduation into womanhood.
Once the marriage date is determined, a formal wedding invitation is sent to the grandparents of the bride and groom. It is then distributed to the rest of the extended family and friends.
Mehendi is considered to be an ancient Indian body art. It is used in creating elaborate ethnic or contemporary designs and exotic patterns on various parts of the body; traditionally mehendi was applied on the hands and feet of Indian bride and women preparing for special festive ceremonies. Today men are finding it a nice alternative to permanent tattoos. But now both men and women enjoy the temporary tattoo. The art of applying henna in this manner is called Mehendi, it is an ancient ritual and art form No Indian wedding is ever complete without the mehendi ceremony. The ritual of mehendi is followed in every part of the country where the hands of the bride are adorned with the lovely red hue of the mehendi. Henna designs can be used as armlets, bracelets, anklets, and general designs on hands and feet. Various kinds of designs can be made depending on the occasion. In wedding ceremonies mostly traditional Indian designs are made on the hands of the bride. These traditional designs are elaborate and detail. Other than the ethnic and conventional designs for the bride you can opt for contemporary designs, which are sleek and fashionable. Today brides also opt for Arabic designs, ornamental designs and tattoo designs like necklace tattoos, navel tattoos and anklet tattoos.
Henna is a natural product. Its leaves are dried and grounded to make the henna powder. Since it is a natural product, there are no known side effects. It usually takes many hours to get a good henna stain on the skin, and that stain is quite harmless. The shade varies according to the quality of the henna powder. Your henna design should last at a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 4 weeks depending on the thickness of the epidermis of your skin and on where the design is located. To have a good result leave the henna paste for eight hours and more. The longer the paste is kept on, the darker the design will be. The less exposed to water, soap or rubbing, the longer the designs will stay. For the wedding day try to go for simple and detailed designs on your hands and feet. The designs should not be overdone it should look pretty.
In an Indian Hindu wedding it is not just the coming together of two person or two souls. The wedding rituals not only involve exchange of vows and rings between the bride and bridegroom but it also establishes the bond between two families and their cultures. The marriage ceremony is a colorful and joyous event, which is spread over a couple of days. It is a large gathering of family, friends and relatives. One of the important and fun ceremonies is the arrival of the groom on the day of the wedding at the wedding venue. The groom's family members, relatives and friends accompany him to the wedding venue in big procession. Groom's friends and relatives are called the barati. They are welcomes and received by the bride's family. The groom normally goes in a grand procession to the bride's place. He sits on a decorated horse. But nowadays people prefer to travel by decorated luxury car because of the distance and traffic rule on the road. The bride's parents and elder members of the family welcome the groom. The mother of the bride performs the aarti when the groom enters the house. And the other member of the bride's family welcomes the guests from the groom's side and introduces each other. The introduction is known as milni. The barat procession may consist of many people, both men and women. Earlier married women were not allowed to go but nowadays-close women relatives go and even dance in the procession.
The barati who comes in the procession are garlanded and seated. Cold drinks, snacks, and sweets are offered to them. They are also invited for dinner as the guests of bride's parents. All the expenses of the barat reception, marriage ceremony and the dinner, etc. are born by bride's parents in most of the cases. The tradition of the ghori is becoming popular once again. In the past the mare was used as a means of transport to the wedding venue. It is adorned with decorations and ornaments. The groom dressed in his wedding attire sits on the horse. Along with the groom his 'best man' usually a younger brother, cousin or nephew who acts as his caregiver sits. Although these days the customs are not seen any more as most grooms like to travel by luxury cars. But still many wants to go by the traditional way and as the groom rides his horse, the baratis are engaged in singing, dancing and fireworks.
Varmala - A garland for the groom and bride
A varmala (also known as jaimala) is the wedding garland symbolic of the popular marriage ceremony. Following regional traditions, the varmala might be made of rose flowers and other ceremonial stuff decorating it. The additives range from Rupee notes to other flowers to other family based traditions.
Exchanging Varmala is the sign that makes the beginning of an Indian marriage. Wedding Garlands are exchanged between one another and is a traditional way to welcome guests.
Varmala - The word meaning ' garland for the groom', comes from the ancient times when the bride, garland in hand would choose her groom from a swayamvar. The varmala was actually a proposal by the bride and acceptance thereafter. The varmala or jaimala ceremony has been adapted from the celestial weddings depicted in mythology and epics. The swayamvar of Sita in the Ramayana and Draupadi in the Mahabharata are classic cases in mythology.
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Wedding Stage Decorations could include various beautiful fresh flowers and other shimmering embellishments. Lovely lightings and plants are also included in recent times. The Wedding Theme and the colors should be matching and contrasting. The various colors of the flowers alter and set the atmosphere at wedding. Seasonal flowers are used for wedding stage decorations. Conventional and ethnic propositions are also used for decorations. Kalash of various shapes and designs are often used with beautiful drapes. A cultural look could be given to the pillars of the Kalash. The sitting arrangement for bride and groom could be made on traditional dangle decorated with netted drapes and lovely, bright flowers. The Wedding Stage Decorations pass on an overall attraction to the entire ceremony.
The tradition of Seven Vows / Saat Phere has had a wealthy historical extravaganza to it. There are a total seven swears made throughout the Saat Phere - the seven rounds. In the first round or phera, the couple prays to God for abundance of nutritious and pure food. They pray to God to let them walk together so that they will acquire food. In the second round or phera, the couple prays to God for a well and affluent life. They ask for the physical, religious and mental health from God.
In the third Phera the couple prays to God for affluence. They ask God for the strength for both of them so that they can share the pleasure and ache together. In the fourth phera the couple prays to God for the raise in love and esteem for each other and their own families. The bride and groom together pray for the beautiful, gallant and dignified children from God in the fifth step. In the sixth holy round around the fire, the couple asks for the nonviolent long life with each other.
In the last seventh round the couple prays to god for friendship, togetherness, allegiance and sympathetic among themselves. They inquire God to make them friends and give the adulthood to carry out the amity for lifetime
Traditional Hindu wedding is full of rituals and custom. On the main day the wedding lasts for hours, there are a number of ceremonies that are usually held on separate days preceding the wedding. Among all the main day wedding rituals Kanyadan is a vital and significant ritual. Kanyadan is a ritual in which the bride's father entrust her daughter to the groom.
Before the wedding is held the bride's parents have to promise to give their daughter away and the groom's parents have to accept the girl as their son's wife. On the main day of the function consent of the parents is obtained for the wedding to proceed. In the ritual of Kanyadaan the bride's parents normally her father and in his absence any elderly relative give their daughter to the groom by putting the bride's right hand into the groom's right hand (Hastamelap, which means joining of hands) while reciting sacred verse.
Kanyadan ('gift of a maiden') is the giving away of the bride by her parents, and Panigrahan is the acceptance of her hand by the groom. In the Hindu belief system, the giving of a daughter to the groom's family is considered to be the greatest possible dana (sacred gift).
Kanyadan is performed by both parents of the bride. They place both hands of their daughter in the hands of the groom. He formally accepts her hands in marriage. Then the bride and groom place a garland around each other's neck and recite prayers. After this ceremony, responsibility for the bride is transferred from her parents to her husband and his family.
The curtain separating the bride and groom is then removed and then the couple exchange flower garlands. When the father of the bride gives away his daughter to the groom, followed by the offering of gifts and presents. Then the elders of the family place an auspicious white cotton cord around the couple's shoulder's to protect them from ill omen since cotton signifies unity, the bride and the groom shower each other with rice. This ritual is a symbol of couple's bond and love. The groom holds the bride's hand and they both take vows to love, be loyal, committed and protect each other throughout their life. Hindu wedding is all about tradition and rituals. And each of the rituals and customs are followed with utmost dedication and faith.
Types of Wedding Games : Some common wedding games are Hiding the shoes, Pillow talk, Fishing the Ring and Unknot knotted string.
Hiding the Shoes
In every Hindu wedding, the groom is directed to remove his shoes prior to entering the mandap, where holy rituals are performed. The bride's sister or the maids accompanying her, on finding suitable moment, grab the groom's shoes and hide them. After the marriage ceremony, groom's sister-in-law or maids demand a ransom amount from the groom to return the shoes. In this sweet prank, bargaining and negotiations happen between them and the deal is finalized at a handsome amount.
Regarding this game, the recently married couple is made to sit back to back. A pillow is held between them by a third person and then, both bride and groom are asked questions about each other. The answers to these questions are replied, not by speaking but by nodding the head. Providing ample of fun and laughter to everyone around, Pillow Talk checks the compatibility between the couple.
Fishing the Ring
In this, the couple is made to sit facing each other and with a bowl of milk in front of them. A ring is dropped in the bowl and the newly weds are asked to find the ring. Whoever gets the ring first is declared as the winner. As per the beliefs, the winner of the game rules the roost for the entire life.
Unknot Knotted String
This game had been practiced to forecast the future relationship of the couple. Knotted string is a kind of bracelet tied on the hands of, both the bride and the groom. In this too, fun and frolic becomes part of the sight. The couple tries to unknot the complex knots of the string by using one hand.
The ritual of vidaai is marked as one of the most emotional aspect of the wedding. It is a very emotional episode for the bride's family members, friends and relatives as she leaves her parents home and goes to her husband's home to start a new life with new dreams and hopes. It is a new beginning for her as she bids farewell to her parents and goes to build a new life with her husband and his family. Vidaai comes just when the marriage ceremony is complete and newly married couple ready for leave to Groom's home.
It is emotionally worded and evokes an outburst with the bride and her family weeping at the time of bride Vidaai (departure). Crying reminds everyone of the changing relationships.It also arouses in the mind of the bride the need to adapt and adjust to new surroundings and relationships of her husband family.Vidaai is directed at the bride,the emotional outpouring creates a deep influense on the groom, making him aware how his wife is leaving behind old relationships of her parents home.It also creates awareness for the need of his becoming more understanding and tolerant towards her.
Leaving the parent's home after having lived there for over 20 years is invariably a difficult situation.But it is a way of life. Every girl must one day leave the parental home for her husband's house to raise a family. As the couple leaves, the bride carries rice in her hands and throws it over her head. Her parental family walking behind her catches the rice in their outstretched clothes.