HINDU INDIAN WEDDING EXPLAINED
Hindu Indian weddings are particularly known for their stunning wedding outfits and rich cultural traditions. In this article, I take you through the most important parts of a Hindu Indian wedding and explain the cultural and religious significance of each part.
Pre-Wedding Ceremonies preceding the actual wedding ceremony
Before the wedding ceremony itself, there are a series of pre-wedding ceremonies that take place. Hindu Indian weddings are not just a one-day affair; they are a series of events that span over several days. In the US, we usually have 2-4 day long Hindu Indian weddings. Each ceremony has its own unique purpose and significance, and they all help to prepare the couple and their families for the wedding day. The pre-wedding ceremonies are as important as the wedding day ceremonies as they help to bring the families of the bride and groom closer. These can include the engagement ceremony (sagai), the haldi ceremony (where turmeric paste is applied to the bride and groom to bring good luck), and the mehendi ceremony (where henna is applied to the bride’s hands and feet).
The first pre-wedding ceremony is the engagement ceremony. It is also known as the Sagai or Kurmai ceremony. It’s usually a small, intimate affair, and it marks the official announcement of the couple’s engagement. The groom’s family visits the bride’s family to exchange gifts and blessings. During this ceremony, the bride and groom exchange rings and exchange vows to be together forever.
The Haldi ceremony is an auspicious ritual that takes place a few days before the wedding. In this ceremony, the bride and groom are smeared with a paste made from turmeric and other ingredients. The paste is said to cleanse and purify them before the wedding. It also brings a natural glow to the bride and groom. This ceremony is usually a happy affair, with music and dancing and undoubtedly the favorite of Indian wedding photographers.
The Mehndi ceremony is another pre-wedding ritual that takes place a day or two before the wedding. In this ceremony, the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with intricate henna designs. The designs can take several hours to apply, and they are said to symbolize love, happiness, and prosperity. The groom’s name is usually hidden somewhere in the design, and it’s said to be a sign of good luck if he can find it.
The Sangeet ceremony is a fun-filled pre-wedding ritual that takes place the night before the wedding. It’s a chance for the families of the bride and groom to come together and celebrate. There’s usually music, dancing, and plenty of food and drink. In some cases, there may be performances by professional dancers or musicians.
WEDDING CEREMONY (Including all events or ceremonies takes place under the Mandap including groom’s procession on the wedding day)
The main wedding ceremony, called as the Vivah, usually takes place in front of a sacred fire (agni). The sacred fireh is considered a witness to the marriage. The bride and groom exchange vows and garlands under the Mandap. After that the bride’s father gives her hand in marriage to the groom. Before the ceremony begins, the groom and his family arrive at the wedding venue in a procession known as the Baraat. The groom usually rides on a decorated horse or elephant or in a decorated vehicle. He is accompanied by his family and friends, who dance to music along the way.
The procession is a chance for the groom’s family to show off their wealth and status, and it’s also a sign of their commitment to the wedding. The Baraat procession is the most photographed events in Indian wedding photography.
Welcome Ceremony (Swagatam)
The Welcome ceremony or Swagatam is the first ceremony that takes place at the wedding venue. The bride’s family welcomes the groom and his family with flower garlands, and they are led to the mandap, where the wedding ceremonies will take place.
Once the groom and his family have arrived, it’s time for the bride’s entrance. The bride is usually escorted to the wedding venue by her family and friends, and she is preceded by a group of young girls who scatter flower petals along the way. The bride is usually dressed in a beautiful red or gold saree, and she wears intricate jewelry and a bindi on her forehead.
The Kanyadaan ceremony is the formal giving away of the bride by her father. In this ceremony, the bride’s father places her hand in the groom’s hand, and the groom promises to take care of her for the rest of his life. The ceremony is a symbolic gesture of the father’s trust and confidence in the groom as he takes on the responsibility of caring for his daughter.
The Saptapadi ceremony is the most important part of the wedding ceremony. In this ritual, the couple takes seven vows, each one signifying a promise that they make to each other. The vows are made as the couple walks around a sacred fire, and they are said to be binding for life. The seven vows include promises to support each other, be faithful, and respect each other’s families.
Mangalsutra and Sindoor Ceremony
The Mangalsutra ceremony is one of the most important parts of the wedding ceremony. In this ritual, the groom ties a sacred thread, called the Mangalsutra, around the bride’s neck. The thread is made of gold or other precious metals, and it’s said to symbolize the union of two souls. The groom also applies Sindoor, a red powder, on the parting of the bride’s hair, which symbolizes her marital status. The Mangalsutra and Sindoor ceremony is the last ritual of the wedding. You will see the groom laying the sacred thread around the bride’s neck and applies Sindoor on her forehead. The Mangalsutra is a sacred necklace that symbolizes the bond between the couple. The Sindoor is a red powder that represents the married woman’s status. The Mangalsutra and Sindoor ceremony signifies the couple’s official union as husband and wife.
This is my personal favorite and unquestionably much-loved for all Indian wedding videographers. The bride (by this time the wife of the groom) says goodbye to her family and leaves with her husband to start her new life. The Vidaai ceremony is the most emotional part of the wedding. Expect a lot of tears and crying. During this ceremony, the bride says goodbye to her family and leaves with her husband to start a new life together. The Vidaai ceremony is a bittersweet moment for the bride’s family, as they realize that their daughter is leaving their home for a new journey.
Griha Pravesh Ceremony
The Griha Pravesh ceremony is a housewarming ceremony that takes place when the bride and groom arrive at their new home. In this ceremony, the couple performs a series of rituals to purify their home. Also it ensures that the house filled with happiness and prosperity.
The photography journey has been exciting and we feel so honored to be a part of the most special day of our Indian and South East Asian brides and grooms in the past. Haring Photography has become a specialist in Indian Wedding Photography and Videography over the last ten years. We started with one Indian Wedding several years back and from there Indian Brides and Grooms refer us to their friends and family. The photography journey has been exciting and we feel so honored to be a part of the Indian Wedding Photographers community.