Hindu Wedding Rituals Of North and South India

By on September 8, 2015

Pre-wedding ceremonies Traditional Indian weddings last a week, and start with pre-wedding ceremonies. Many of these rituals are done in both North and South Indian wedding as many inter cultural weddings happen today. A recent study by Rice University shone a light on the following rituals:

Easy Day - Haldi

Haldi is a ritual holy bath during which turmeric (Haldi), oil and water is applied to both the bride and groom by married women.

The Mehendi ceremony, during which the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with intricate patterns by the application of Henna. On a lighter note, it is believed that, deeper the color of the mehendi (henna) stronger is the groom’s love for the bride. With foot tapping music and dances, this ‘ladies-only’ party lends a break from the otherwise more ritualistic ceremonies. When the bride goes to the groom’s house after the wedding, she is not expected to perform any housework until her mehendi has faded away.

Sangeet means music. As the name suggests, this function is an evening of musical entertainment and merriment hosted by the bride’s family. The main significance of this ceremony is that the bride is introduced to all the members of her new family.

Indian Forums - Seven Promises

Image Courtesy: India Forums

As part of the Tilak ceremony, kumkum or sindhoor is placed on the forehead of the groom by all the male members of the bride’s family. Kumkum is a sign of auspiciousness. Presents are given to the groom and his family, requesting them to take care of the bride.

The arrival of the groom is an important and fun-filled event. The groom, dressed in his wedding attire, leaves his home to the wedding venue on a decorated horse. The groom is usually accompanied by his family members, relatives and friends in a big procession with a lot of pomp and show including music, orchestra, dance and fireworks.

At the wedding venue, the bride waits for the groom, with a Jaimala/Varamala, which is a decorated garland. Soon after the groom arrives, the bride and groom exchange garlands. On a lighter note, it is considered that, whoever puts the garland first on their partner, will have an upper hand in the marriage

Mera Events

Kasi Yatra
In South-India, on the morning on the wedding day, there is a ceremony called Kashi Yatra, during which, the groom dressed simple attire, throws a fit (obviously a fake one), declaring that he has decided to give up the institution of marriage to go to Kasi (Varnasi) to take up sainthood. This is when the bride’s father/brother humbly requests the groom to choose marriage over sainthood, convincing him that the bride will assist him in his subsequent spiritual pursuit. The couple exchanges garlands following this event, during which both parties carry the bride and groom making it tougher for the other to put the garland. This is another fun event, eliciting a lot of laughter.

Kanyadaan or giving away of the bride, is an important part of the main wedding ritual. Kanyadaan is derived from the Sanskrit words kanya which means virgin girl and daan which means giving away. This is performed by the father of the bride, where he gives his daughter to the groom, requesting him to accept her as an equal partner.

The bride and groom are considered wed when the groom ties a mangalsutram/thali which is a sacred thread that symbolizes his promise to take care of the bride as long as he lives. The groom ties three knots when he ties the Thali, symbolizing the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The entire wedding is done around an Agni Homam (sacred fire). Agni (fire god) is considered as the main witnesses to the marriage.


Image Courtesy: Darbar Indian Wedding

Saat Phere
The bride and the groom then circle the fire seven times, in a clockwise direction, called SaatPhere which signifies seven goals of married life which include religious and moral duties, prosperity, spiritual salvation and liberation, and sensual gratification. The bride leads the circle first and then the groom leads them, signifying equality of the two partners and their determination to stand beside each other though happiness and sorrow.

The wedding culminates with the groom applying sindhoor to the bride’s forehead, welcoming her as his partner for life. This is the first time that sindhoor is applied to the forehead of woman, when the bridegroom himself adorns her with it.

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Shibani Nelson is a veteran celebrity stylist who has an unequalled experience of over 20 years in the beauty industry.