In India, marriage does not mean just matching two people, it means the union of both the bride and groom’s family. A whopping 80% of marriages in India are Hindu weddings. Marriages and pairs are made in heaven according to the Hindu beliefs and once you are married to a person then it is believed that you are bound with that person for 7 lifetimes.
It is considered to be the most important and turning point of someone’s life as they saw it as the second or another phase of their life. For both males and females they become much more responsible not only towards them but also towards their families, society, etc.
Classic Indian weddings are extended for several days, but in the modern era, things are evolving and changing with the time limit it to a day or two. Here in this write-up, our main purpose is to explore all the rituals, customs, or ceremonies in detail.
Hindu Pre Wedding Ceremonies
Arranged marriages are still the primary mode of marriages in Indian culture. Pre-wedding is considered as the base of all the marriage rituals. It starts with finding the perfect match, it can be either through friends, families, professional matchmakers or through trusted matrimonial websites. Even if it is a love marriage, a family union is important. It starts with matching boy’s and girl’s horoscope match, if it matches then it will proceed further. Along with the horoscope matching, family considerations are family backgrounds, educational, financial, and physical matching too. Let’s just not dig deep if it does not match because it will be a separate topic to write (We will for sure write about what if boys or girls stars do not match). A formal announcement of the wedding will take place, generally known as an engagement ceremony.
Below we have briefly explained the Hindu pre-wedding ceremonies:
In different parts of India, engagement ceremonies are called by many names – sagai, Roka, kasamdry, kurmai, etc. In this ritual, rings are exchanged between the bride and bridegrooms to seal the union between the couple as well as for the families. After a Roka ceremony this ritual happens, it can be either after several days or after several months after that ceremony.
Engagement happens at the bridegroom’s home in the presence of both the families and their friends. The bride’s family visits the home with loads of gifts, dry fruits, etc for them. Now, these days tilak and engagement ceremony is combined in which grain of rice and saffron is mixed. After the engagement, a tiny dot of henna is placed on the palm of the bride for good luck.
“Engagement is done to prove the confirmation of marriage”
- Both the families gather at one place, typically the bridegroom’s home.
- Groom’s father requests for the bride’s hand for his son on the approval of the bride’s father.
- Sari and Jewelry are offered by the Groom’s mother to the bride.
- Ganesh Puja is performed.
- Bride and Groom exchange the wedding rings that confirm they will be future partners.
This ceremony is held a day before the wedding. In this ceremony, henna is applied on both hands and feet of the bride (In some parts of India it is applied on Bridegroom’s hand and feet as well). It is followed by music and dance of relatives.
Most famous Bollywood song during mehndi ceremony:
‘Mehndi hai rachne wali, haathon par gehri laali…
Kahe sakhiyan, ab kaliyan, haathon par khilne wali hai’
‘मेहँदी है रचनेवाली, हाथों में गहरी लाली
कहें सखियाँ, अब कलियाँ, हाथों में खिलने वाली’
The bride may call a professional mehndi designer or any family relative to create a design. Professional mehndi designers these days create an animal, Hindu gods, or even brides and groom’s name craft in the design.
“It is believed that the darker the color of a bride’s mehndi, the more love she will get from her husband.”
Modern-day Indian mehndi follows the basics but adding more fun to it like music and well-choreographed dance performance by relatives later joined by the groom to celebrate her upcoming marriage.
It is a women-centric event, where only women participate. It is one of the most enjoyable and fun ceremonies of the Hindu wedding. It is performed individually but in classic or traditional Indian marriage ceremony it is a part of the mehndi ceremony.
It is the time where talented cousins and relatives come into the limelight by showcasing their true dance potential. Although the sangeet ceremony is a part of Punjabi and Gujarati weddings it is adopted by the other parts of India due to the joy and happiness associated with it.
The most memorable and fun events amongst the Hindu pre-wedding ceremony. Before the morning of the wedding day, a paste of turmeric is applied to the body of both the bride and bridegroom. In some parts of India, it is performed just after the mehndi ceremony. Turmeric is applied to beautify both bride and groom for the big day. India is still living in an era where beauty means fair and glow that is why turmeric is applied.
The basics of arrange marriage mostly rely on the physical appearance of the bride (fair and glow are important, that is why the Indian market is filled with beauty creams with big Bollywood stars promoting them.). For the bridegroom is directly related to its financial stability, all the above is not a problem because if we look more closely it is directly related to heredity. The basic task for a female in any animal kingdom is to look for the male from which she can get a good and healthy generation (highly healthy genes that are disease-free) with some sort of financial stability.
“Due to the complex socio-cultural environment, we tend to ignore (which it should be). But it is deep inside our roots, whether people are evolving or building more and more complex society for them.”
Pro Tip >> For Women’s: It is ok to choose a financially stable person, but we cannot ignore the fact that India is a fast-growing country with a full-fledged contribution of females in developing India’s economy. It is time for all women to become financially independent, rather than considering a male as a retirement plan after marriage.
For Men’s: Before the British Raj, Men did not see the beauty of the women in her physical appearance but in her nature. But post British era beauty of a woman means fair skin to the men. This is also the negative the British gave to our society, for sure we will write on “Negative Impacts Left By British On Our Society.
The Roka ceremony has a significance in Hindu marriages. Like engagement, it is an official announcement of marriage, where both the families gather at one place and exchange a bunch of gifts to each other along with some dry fruits.
“Roka Ceremony means the official acceptance of the bride and groom to each other”
Wedding Day – The Main Event
Indian weddings last for 3 days but if you are a guest then you are invited on the 3rd day which is the main wedding, the other 2 days are for the family-related functions.
The first thing that you will see on a big fat Indian wedding day is the groom will come to the ceremony on a decorated horse, typically it is called baraat with band Baja and people dancing around the groom. Once the Baraat reaches, the bride’s family welcomes their son in law at the door. In the mandap, several rituals are performed like Kanya Daan, Saath Phere, etc. Finally, the groom will apply a red powder (sindoor) on the bride’s forehead and tie a black beaded necklace (mangalsutra) around her neck to accept her as his wife.
For the guests who are part of this marriage are served with a variety of foods. If you are attending any Hindu marriage then we would suggest you try every food in the stall, but do not forget to bring an envelope of money and loads of blessings for the newly married couple.
There is a common misconception about Indian Hindu weddings that they are very spicy and all the food is vegetarian, well this is not true. It entirely depends on which state the marriage is happening. Yes, 80 to 90% of Indian Hindu marriages indeed have vegetarian food but let’s just not create a misconception because in some parts and some situations it has non-vegetarian food also.
Hindu Post Wedding Ceremonies
Satyanarayan Pooja is done before the post-wedding ceremony. This pooja is done for the newly wedded couple to have children as soon as they want a family. Joota chupai is held after a ceremony when things are calm, this is done by unmarried sisters or cousins of the bride to hide the groom’s shoes. In return the groom’s sister ransom for money or gift, which they will get from the groom.
It is an emotional event that marks the completion of the wedding and it is the last ceremony of the wedding (from the bride’s family side). Bride leaves the place with eyes full of tears, throwing backward 5 handfuls of rice and coins. This signifies that the bride has paid back whatever her parents gave her in all the years she was with them also it signifies that her house will always have health and wealth. Stepping towards the decorated car bride’s brothers and cousin pushes the car signifying that they help in starting her new life helping her husband. Once the car leaves money is thrown which means to discard the evil spirits.
Parents gave their daughter’s hand to their son-in-law, and request him to take care of her and always be there in support of her.
It is the formal introduction of a newly married bride to the groom’s community. There are no rituals performed at this event, as this is just a formal introduction of the bride to the groom’s family. Those who are unable to come to the wedding due to certain reasons will attend the reception.
This event is packed with dance, songs, and lots of fun.
Dwar Rokai Ceremony
This ceremony is mostly seen in north India and some other parts. When newly married couples enter the home, the sisters or cousins of the groom defy the couple not allowing them to enter the house. The Groom is asked to present gifts or money to them so that after getting it, sisters or cousins allow them to enter the home.
It is a fun ceremony where we can see the light-hearted and sweet arguments between the brother and sister.
Griha Pravesh Ceremony
This is a remarkable ceremony just followed after the dwar rokai ceremony. In this ceremony, the bride is asked to push the jar/Kalash filled with rice with her right foot to enter the house (her first step in the house). This signifies that the family of the groom not only accepted her but consider her as an important part of the family.
In Hindu mythology, girls are considered as the form of goddess Laxmi. When the bride steps into a dish filled with red water and kumkum leaves her first footmark on the house, this signifies that the goddess Laxmi has arrived at the home.
Mooh Dikhai Ceremony
Like other ceremonies, it is also an important post-wedding ceremony. It is just the introduction of the bride to the family and relatives. Families and relatives come to the groom’s home to see the newly married groom. Basically, to see how beautiful she is, remember my last point in the Haldi ceremony (beauty means how fair she is and what is her physical appearance.). In return, the family or the relative gave her gifts or cash.
Pag Phera Ceremony
It’s the last ceremony of a Hindu wedding (Damn so many ceremonies 😒). Brother of the bride comes to her new family and fetches her back to her parents’ house. She has to stay for three days at her parents’ home.
At the end of the ceremony, the groom arrives at the bride’s home. For the groom, it is his first official entry as son-in-law to his wife’s paternal home.
In Hindu mythological literature, there are eight forms of marriage and they differ according to social acceptability. During the wedding ceremonies, several key rituals are performed which has its significance and without them, Hindu marriage is not complete.
I have always fantasized with the 7 phere (Saptapadi), what exactly they mean in Hindu marriages. Although being a Muslim it will never happen in my life I have attended several Hindu marriages, somehow might have heard about each steps meaning. Below is the meaning of Saptapadi:
Step 1. The first oath is a prayer to the Lord for provision and nourishment.
Step 2. The second oath stands for strength and togetherness in any kind of situation.
Step 3. The third oath is for prosperity.
Step 4. The fourth oath is for families.
Step 5. The fifth oath is for progeny.
Step 6. The sixth oath is for health.
Step 7. The seventh oath is for love and friendship.