When you’re organizing a wedding, there are several main factors which you would take into consideration, like nationality (many people want a wedding in their country’s custom), religion, family traditions, and personal tastes. So, if you’re Hindu, here are a few wedding traditions you can incorporate into your wedding ceremony. And if you’re not, you can just learn a few interesting Indian customs to broaden your horizons.
A Hindu wedding ceremony is so special because Hindus consider marriage to be extremely important. That’s why they organize bright, merry, and long-lasting (for several days) weddings. The event includes lots of decorations and unique rituals. Let’s talk about some of the main traditions that occur at a Hindu wedding.
Coconut offering for wedding guests
The coconut offering is very popular in India and an important part of many Hindu ceremonies. For the wedding, such offering is put in front of the house as a form of welcoming the wedding guests. The coconut actually symbolized the head and the leaves symbolize the hair. But the stand includes not only that but also some other symbolic things, like candles, burning sticks, other fruits, local spices, etc.
Traditionally, Hindu weddings are held at the bride’s home. That’s where most of consequential rituals take place. But these days, a lot of Indian couples choose to have a wedding party at a banquet hall. Of course, this option is for those who can afford to spend more money on the wedding.
First wedding gifts from the bride and groom
When the wedding begins, the bride comes out of her house dressed in a yellow sari provided by her parents. Then, the groom presents her with a red sari, in which she will be actually getting married. This is the first gift from her husband-to-be and it indicates that he is ready and willing to take care of all her needs from now on. In return, she presents him with a shirt.
When the bride comes out, she’s wearing a veil that covers her head and face. It is meant to protect her from evil spirits and to add some element of anticipation to the groom. It’s like he’s going to see her for the first time. Historically, it really was like that because parents arranged the wedding and chose the bride for their son, so he might not have been able to see her before the ceremony at all. The groom will take off the veil and see his bride’s face after she’s become his wife.
Bridal pendant “thali”
A thali is an Indian wedding chain. Originally, it was made from yellow thread and had a piece of turmeric tied at the bottom. Later, it became a gold chain pendant. It represents the god a certain family worships and also displays the caste of the newlyweds. At one point during the wedding, the groom puts the thali around the bride’s neck to show to everyone that she’s taken. Three knots were tied on the thali to indicate the groom’s lifelong commitment to his wife.
Groom’s toe ring “metti”
Of course, if the bride has some jewelry to indicate her marital status, the groom must also get something similar. And there was one thing – a toe ring called “metti”. In the past, Indian women – just like women in many European countries – were treated like a lesser person. So when they were walking past a man, they had to keep their head down. Thus, they couldn’t know if this particular man was married. And metti rings helped a lot, as they were perfectly seen with your head down and showed to the world that this male is taken. Over time, the tradition has changed and now women wear a metti instead.
Stepping on granite stone
On the wedding day, the groom helps his wife-to-be step on a granite stone, which symbolizes that she must be strong in different situations that will happen during their life together and take care of her new family.
7 steps around the fire
For one of the Hindu rituals, the groom takes his bride’s hand, intertwine their fingers, and walks with her 7 steps around the fire. These steps symbolize 7 promises:
- share responsibilities;
- grow together in strength;
- share worldly possessions;
- fill their hearts with peace and happiness;
- raise strong and virtuous children;
- remain faithful to each other;
- cherish each other and the family through sorrow and happiness.
Games at the wedding
As most of Indian weddings traditionally were arranged, the bride and groom often didn’t know each other and felt like strangers. That’s why there are lots of various funny games played at a Hindu wedding to help the newlyweds learn more about each other and get used to one another. Today, weddings are usually not arranged anymore, but games still help reduce the tension and calm the nerves of the couple, because a wedding is a rather emotional event.
Here is one of the games: the ring is dropped into a large vessel and the bride and groom are to put their hands into said vessel and get the ring first. They compete and have fun. But there is a meaning to this game – it is believed that who gets the ring will be in charge in this family.
These are not all the Hindu wedding traditions, there are many more, but at least you now have some idea of what such an Indian wedding ceremony looks like.