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Beautiful Indian Weddings

October 11, 2011

Indian weddings involve many rituals and traditions. The ceremony is based on vedas, similar to the bible,  which are spiritual scriptures that divide life into four stages (studentship, householder, retirement, and self-realization). Marriage, considered a sanskara or sacrament, is the transition from studentship to householder. Hindu marriages are not entered into lightly and the decision is not considered solely by the couple but rather by the joining of two families along with the bride and groom. An astrologer determines the compatibility of the partners and an auspicious date for the marriage. Hindu weddings in general are considered very important and celebratory; they are colorful and extend for several days. Some pre-wedding events include: engagement, mehendi event, sangeet, garba event, grashanti and vidhi puja (religious ritual). In addition, many traditions and rituals are incorporated within the wedding ceremony itself which is called the Lagna Vidhi.

Bridal Hair, Makeup & Accessories – Traditionally, the bridal outfit should incorporate red, white and green.
Bride’s mehendi (henna) with colorful bangles. It is said in the hindu culture that the darker your henna turns out the more intense your husbands love is for you.Bride in front of the Mandap, widely known as the wedding alter (a decorated canopy under which the bride and groom are married)
Bridesmaid’s bouquets with flower girl.

There is cultural meaning behind every little detail in hindu weddings, right down to the symbolism of the couple. For example, the groom represents Lord Vishnu, one of the trinity of Hindu Gods- Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu the Sustainer and Lord Shiva the Destroyer. The bride represents his wife Lakshmi, the goddess of well-being and wealth. The priest uses many ingredients during the ritual including: fresh flowers to signify beauty and joy, coconut to symbolize fertility, rice grains and fruit to signify nutritional food for the sustenance of life and Ghee(melted butter) to feed the holy fire representing light and warmth. The ceremony begins with the Ganesh Puja which is done in the beginning of every auspicious and religious occasion. Lord Ganesh is worshipped to provide prosperity, and protect from any obstacles which may arise during the ceremony and in married life. The ceremony then goes on to the welcoming of the groom (Var Agaman), welcoming of the bride (Kanya Agaman), exchange of the flower garlands (Jaimala), tying of Garments & Sacred Garland (Granthi Bandhan & Varmala), presenting the bride & joining of hands (Kanyadaan & Hasta Milap), the blessings (Akhand Saubhagyavati & Ashirwad), placing of sacred red powder & necklace (Sindoor & Mangal Sutra) and the bride’s farewell (vidaii).

Welcoming of the bride – The bride is accompanied by her mama’s (maternal uncles) to the Mandap.
Here, a curtain is suspended in front of groom while the bride arrives, which symbolizes traditional barriers.

In the above two pictures the bride and groom exchange garlands, expressing respect for each other, promising to share everything in life.
Bride’s parents place a Basil leaf in her right hand and in presence of God and holy fire (Agni), give her away to groom by placing her hand in his. Up to this point, the bride’s parents have had the responsibility to feed, care, protect and love their daughter.  These responsibilities are now passed on to the groom as he accepts her hand and vows are taken.
The primary witness of a Hindu marriage is the fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni, and by law and tradition, no Hindu marriage is deemed complete unless in the presence of the Sacred Fire, seven encirclements have been made around it by the bride and the groom together.
In the Hindu culture, the tradition of wearing Sindoor is thought to have been prevalent for more than 5,000 years. Sindoor is a red or orange color cosmetic powder that is applied in the parting of the hair by married women.

The word mangal sutra literally means “an auspicious thread”. It is usually a gold pendant strung from a yellow thread prepared with turmeric, a string of black beads or simply a gold chain. It is comparable to the wedding ring of the West. A married woman is expected to wear the mangal sutra until her husband’s death. It is tied around the neck of the bride on the day of marriage symbolizing the union.

These are just some of the many rituals and traditions that take part in an Hindu Wedding. Most hindu weddings in India extend for a whole week and it’s celebration is known throughout the town. The wedding usually takes places outdoors and many guests are invited. For more information on hindu weddings, feel free to email me!

Special thanks to my friends Hiral & Shamik for sending me these beautiful pictures from their wedding!

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