TRADITIONS OF INDIAN MARRIAGE
THE COLORFUL INDIAN MATRIMONY
India is the land of diverse cultures and traditions. With age old colorful festivals or “tyohars” people celebrate almost every day as something special. And nowhere in this whole world can a marriage be sermonized like the Indian way. Weddings/ marriages are the most celebrated occasions in Indian families. More than the starting of a new relationship between two people, it is the beginning of the relationship of two families. That is why it is said, that in Indian marriages two families rather than two people are wed locked . With multitudes of religions, custom, traditions and rituals, Indian weddings are definitely the melting points of myriad wedding traditions.
Indian weddings are generally extravagant events that are celebrated over time span of almost a week. And I am talking just about the ceremonies here. The preparation of an Indian wedding lasts from 2-3 months at least. So you can well imagine the fun and frolic that an Indian wedding has. It is full of songs, dance, drama and food. As it is once in a lifetime occasion, it is also celebrated as family reunion by many as long lost relatives and friends turn up on this occasion with their best wishes for the couple.
Indian weddings are generally characterized with amazing food and cuisines. The lavish decor of the banquet halls and resorts also makes the whole atmosphere alive. Apart from these things, there are endless numbers of traditions performed in an Indian wedding. The rituals performed in a particular wedding depend on the religion and customs of the people involved. The traditions and rituals make the wedding more fun filled. Celebrations associated with Indian weddings make them the most admirable event in the world. The experience of attending an Indian wedding is priceless!!
In India it is believed that “marriages are made in heaven” and that “marriage is a lifelong bond of love” between the bride and groom. Basically, it is an extremely sacred ceremony that is usually initiated by the adults of the family. It may sound bizarre to some of you but still most of the Indian weddings are arranged by elders of the house. However with changing times, love marriages and inter cast marriages are also being performed. The pre wedding ritual in a Hindu wedding starts with “ROKA” in which the family of bride and groom take a mutual decision of marriage. Both the families offer some “Shagun” or “gifts” to bride and groom respectively and the weddings bell start ringing.
After this ritual, “ENGAGEMENT” or “MANGNI” takes place in which would be bride and groom exchange rings in front of their families and elders. It is a grand affair just like the wedding ceremony and involves lots of music, dance and delicacies.
Indians are known to be influenced by priests and “pundits”. So before going any further, the birth charts or “kundlis” of bride and groom are matched to see whether they are actually compatible to each other. Also, all the functions of marriage are dated according to the auspicious dates assigned by pundits in order to avoid any mishaps.
The 2-3 days before marriage is full of various functions and traditions. Firstly, MEHANDI ceremony takes place. It is one of the most awaited functions in Indian wedding in which the bride and all her female relatives and friends apply henna on their hands. These days henna designs are applied by professional henna artists. Along with this ceremony, musical ceremony known as “SANGEET” is also organized in which the families and friends of both bride and groom dance to the tunes of traditional wedding songs which are later replaced by Bollywood numbers. Both these ceremonies are also a major feature of the Muslim weddings as well.
Apart from these two functions, “HALDI” ceremony also takes place in many religions including the Muslim Weddings where both the bride and groom are applied turmeric or haldi paste on their face, arms and legs by ladies of their respective families. It is believed that haldi ceremony imparts natural glow to both bride and groom for the big day.
After all this comes the wedding day. The traditional Hindu wedding starts with the “NAVGRAHA PUJA” where both the bride and groom perform puja of all the nine planets at their own places separately. After this ritual, the “BARAAT” proceeds for the wedding venue. Baraat is just the word given to the time when family and friends of groom walk towards to the venue dancing and singing whereas the groom rides on a white mare. After reaching the venue, in some weddings, ‘MILNI” is performed where the male relatives of bride and groom exchange garlands and bride’s relatives offer gift to groom’s relatives. However, in few other traditions, “VARHA SATKAAR” is performed where bride’s mother welcomes the groom.
After these rituals, the bride finally arrives and bride and groom exchange beautiful garlands. There is a big applause for the new couple but the ceremony is still not complete. Then it’s the time for “PHERE” where the bride and groom in the presence of a Brahmin or the priest and close relatives take seven vows in front of fire. The bride’s father performs “KANYADAAN” in which he officially hands over his daughter to the groom. The groom fills vermillion in bride’s hair partition and they become man and wife. After all this, the bride and the groom touch the feet of their elders and seek their blessings for their married life. In the “BIDAAI” ceremony the bride bids adieu to her family and it is an extremely heart warming scene for the onlookers.
Muslim wedding: Nikaah
Muslim Indian weddings; Mehand & Manjiha ceremony
The Muslim wedding or “NIKAAH” is a little different. Muslim wedding can be conducted at any time as there is no question of auspicious time in this wedding. The mehandi ceremony and manjha ceremony are conducted. The manjha ceremony is same as the haldi ceremony in hindu wedding. The Muslim wedding is presided over by a priest or ‘QAZI”. The qazi appoints two witnesses for the wedding from the groom side and two “walis” from the bride’s side. Then, the qazi reads selected verses from QURAN, the holy Book and the wedding is complete by proposal and acceptance by both bride and groom. The mutual consent of both bride and groom is of utmost importance to make NIKAAH wedding legal. After, this Mehar is determined and the wedding ceremony ends with the guests praying for marital bliss for the bride and groom.
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