Hindu weddings are all about colours, flowers, priest chantings, delicious south-Indian food and more. When it comes to hindu weddings, what couple genuinely wants their special day to end? Ofcourse, there will be elaborate, bright and tradition-packed celebrations that tend to go on for a number of days before the actual wedding ceremony even begins. The myriad of traditional and elegant ceremonies is what makes Hindu weddings unique. The rituals and festivities not only brings the families of the bride and groom closer together, but also ensures that no one leaves the festivities without having a good time. Thanks to the fact that many variations of Hindu traditions have been blended into Indian culture, even those who are not will take the opportunity to borrow some of the ceremonies and incorporate them into their special day.
HALDI AND SANGEET
These must-have ceremonies that can be seen before the wedding include: the Haldi – which is a purification of the couple with a paste made of Turmeric powder, the Mehndi – which means the time when the bride is decorated with intricate and beautiful Henna designs and the Sangeet – which is a celebration that takes place about a day before the wedding. This is when family and friends come together to dance and eat delicious food in an exciting pre-wedding celebration. While each one of the mentioned events is wonderful in their own, together they lead up to the most important day – the wedding day, where a beautiful celebration of the joined couple can commence. On this day, breathtaking moments of culture, religion, and unity make up the perfect event to kick off a bride and groom’s new life together.
Now, let’s dive into all of the separate events that make up a Hindu wedding day.
BRIDE AND GROOM PREPARATION
Just like many traditional weddings around the world, Hindu wedding couples tend to prepare for their special day separately. However, this prep time can vary in the fact that it may take closer to 3-4 hours for everyone to get ready as opposed to just one or two. This could have something to do with the fact that, truthfully, the preparation for the bride begins a couple days before the wedding with Mehndi, which is when she and all her female friends and family members gather together in the bride’s home to apply intricate Henna. Once the actual wedding day arrives, outfits, makeup, and hair will be done like most weddings. However, the details are very important, so every little thing will take time to make it perfect!
THE BEAUTY IS IN THE DETAILS (CEREMONY SITE)
There is no doubt that weddings are all about the details when it comes to making the bride and groom’s day special. Hindu weddings are no exception and the wedding site is typically decked out from floor to rafters with majestic decorations. The decor has floral designs, ornate furniture, statues of beloved deities, candles, chandeliers, bright fabrics, and much more! While the idea is to make the entire wedding location elaborate, there is one area in particular where much of the focus and attention will go.
The main centrepiece of the wedding ceremony is known as the mandap and it is where the couple will perform the wedding nuptials. This location is where much of the decorations will reside as it is the primary setting for everything that will take place during the ceremony. Because there are so many details in a Hindu wedding, many couples will opt to have a photographer duo in order to capture as much of their day as possible; one to focus on the main ceremony itself, and the other to focus on photographing all of the little details that go into the decor and set up. Without this extra help, one photographer would most likely miss a lot of important moments and cherished features of the wedding.
THE GROOM ENTRY
Now that the groom has reached the Mandap, this is the time for the priest to invoke the blessing of Lord Ganesh before the wedding rituals begin. This puja, or ceremony, is important for a Hindu wedding, as it is performed with the intention of bestowing good luck upon the couple and their families, in order to ward off any obstacles or hindrance that may get in their way as the couple sets out on their new life together. Interestingly enough, while no Hindu wedding would be complete without the Ganesh Puja, many auspicious ceremonies in the Hindu religion will not commence without a prayer to Lord Ganesh. There is no doubt that this particular god is extremely important to the culture surrounding this huge life-changing event.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE (KANYA AAGAMAN)
Once the wedding site has been blessed, everyone is waiting breathlessly, and now, it is time for the bride to arrive. This ceremony is the bride’s first appearance to the family. Once the bride reaches the Mandap, it is time for the official wedding ceremony to begin. The bride is usually escorted to the Mandap by her maternal aunt and uncle, which signifies the acceptance of the union from the maternal side of the family. Additionally, the bride may be escorted in by her sisters, cousins, and friends, depending on which part of India the bride’s family is from. Not only is such a tradition a wonderful way to get family further involved in the union of the couple, but having family involved also shows their support and love for the bride as she makes the journey to her groom.
THE REVEAL (MUHURTHAM)
Finally, the bride has reached the Mandap and the ceremony can commence, right? Not quite! There are still a couple of rituals set in place that aid in making this joining of the bride and groom all the more special. During the Muhurtham, the couple will see each other officially for the first time.
LIGHT THE FIRE IN MY HEART (VIVAAH HOMA)
Once the Kanyadaan has come to a close, the sacred fire will be lit; signifying the start of the Vivaah Homa ceremony. This particular section of the wedding is designated to be a purification moment for all of the upcoming ceremonies that follow. The priest will contain this fire in a copper bowl known as a kund and use it throughout the remainder of the wedding ceremony.
KNOT ( MANGAL PHERA )
Depending on what region of India the couple is from, or what branch of Hinduism they practice, the bride and groom will continue to circle the fire for anywhere between four and seven times. The groom leads the first circle while the bride leads the final circle. Although this may seem like a drawn out ritual, each circling of the fire actually has immense significant meaning for a Hindu wedding. For example, during a Gujarati Mangal Phera, the four circles are directly related with dharma (virtue), artha (wealth), kama (family), and moksha (enlightenment). When the last circle is finally made, the couple will rush back to their seats to see who will get there first. Traditionally, the one who makes it back to their seat first will be the head of the household!
To wrap up this ceremony, the couple will go through an actual “tying the knot” ritual where the bride and groom will be connected with a scarf, called the dupatta. Typically, the bride’s dupatta, which is worn on her head, will be tied to the groom’s dupatta, which is worn over his shoulder. They are now not only connected physically, but through their fate as well.
When it comes to setting up the wedding day plan, traditionally the family pictures will be taken right after the ceremony before everyone makes their way to the reception area. This plan is the same for Hindu weddings and usually, the best location to capture these photos is right on the Mandap, where the bride and groom can be in the centre and the family can gather around for photos to be taken.
Once the family photos have been taken and all family members have been guided to the reception area, the newlyweds can now have their own time to shine. If a first look was utilised before the wedding, this time after family photographs is perfect for maybe sneaking in a couple of extra photos that capture the bride and groom’s overwhelming love and excitement now that they are a married couple. If there wasn’t a first look, the couple’s session is when all of the photos of just the bride and groom can be captured.
Because Hindu weddings tend to have a lot of outfit changes between all of the different ceremonies, most likely the bride and groom will opt into an outfit change after their photos and before entering the reception area. This outfit change may be something as simple as adding different jewellery or some more comfortable shoes, or it could be a completely new Sari and Suit.
RECEPTION DETAILS/ PERFORMANCES
When it comes to the reception, it’s a time of celebration and socialisation where the families and friends of the couple can come together to have a wonderful time and set the newlywed’s married journey off on the right foot. On average, the reception may have around 300-500 people and the new couple will be in the centre of it all – typically on a raised stage so everyone can see them easily.
Another example of something that makes Hindu receptions unique would be the amount of professional dances and choreography that takes place during the celebration. Not only do friends and family members put on their own shows, it is not uncommon for the couple to have hired professional dance troupes to entertain and liven up the party even further!
Hindu weddings are known for their delicious food, so it’s no surprise to hear that a typical Hindu reception meal can be made up of around 10 appetisers, four or five main entrees, followed by yogurt, salad, naan, and much more! Delicious sweet treats and cookies will round off the meal!
With dances, food and photo sessions, Lipdub, afterparty, “A HINDU WEDDING IS A TOTAL VIBE”!