India, a land of extensive cultures, languages, religions, festivals and traditions brings along with it weddings, similarly rich in history and a subject worth immense exploration. Its true, more literally in India, when they say you don’t just marry your partner, you marry his/her family as well. Indians believe very strongly in the faith of ‘marriages being made in heaven’ thus arranged marriages make up the larger portion of Indian weddings than love marriages where the latter in many cases involve a bond between two different religions or cultures. A country where family values, love and respect for parents and elders still marks as an important foundation for growing up, youngsters yet observe the dedication to give the responsibility of finding a bride or groom to the elders. Though this is a more prominent occurrence, Indian weddings have evolved over the years and youngsters are opting for a partner of their own choice.
Indian weddings involve bringing together two families, they are organized with pomp and grandeur and are characterized by umpteen rituals, ceremonies, decked halls, conventional customs and functions that inevitably involve more than 400 to 450 guests. Toll of guests rising up to 2000 and above is also not rare. It is interesting to note that Indian wedding functions differ across the country and are very culture and religion specific. As this South Asian peninsular involves many religions, it also comprises of several castes and sects and each group have their own rituals for weddings. The north, west and east of India prominently comprise of weddings that have an agenda of a minimum of 3 days to functions that last for up to 10 days. Likewise weddings in southern India last for a few hours to a maximum of 2 days.
It’s exhilarating and fun to attend an Indian wedding, you are bound to witness individuals adorned in traditional colourful attires, mostly the sari, socializing in an elegantly lit property while loud music and delicious Indian food do their rounds. Another hallmark of the Indian wedding is a mehendi ceremony (applying henna on the hands and feet for the purpose of decoration). A ladies sangeet (party for ladies only), the main wedding day and the reception are the foremost functions among the other several small rituals and celebratory events. Music from bollywood films play a vital role in the entertainment of guests and the very famous music called the ‘shehnai”, typical to Indian weddings is an aerophonic instrument that is believed to bring luck, is played on many of these occasions.
The family values and system, steeped in emotions, bring in an extra bond and attachment to people. This is seen in the wedding rituals where each ceremony symbolises something. The main wedding day in a Hindu wedding involves the “saath pheras” (7 rounds) that the couple circumambulate around the holy fire and the priest chants out holy mantras. Every round symbolizes something where the couple invokes God to bless them. The “bidaai” ritual which is one of the last rituals on the main wedding day, involves the father giving away his daughter to the groom, where this moment is considered to be sad for the girls family. Muslim weddings have their own traditions as well. The couple is solemnized married only after pronouncing “qabool hai” (I agree) 3 times independently to the Muslim cleric with the presence of 3 witnesses. Christian weddings are similar to the western ones, with the ceremony in the local language being the only probable difference.
Indian weddings are an ocean of study in themselves. Wrapped in sentiments and bonding coupled with jubilant celebrations.
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