INDIAN WEDDINGS EXPLAINED
Have you been invited to a Hindu Indian wedding? Are you at an Indian wedding right now and you are confused what is going on? Don’t worry, you are not alone! Let me explain what a Hindu Indian wedding consists of. I will illustrate all the separate elements with real Indian wedding photos below:
Whether you’re religious or not, participating in Hindu wedding is an experience of a lifetime! I always get excited to photograph Hindu Indian weddings because they’re filled with colors, fun activities, crazy dancing, performances and of course the world famous Indian food!
The first item you usually notice at the traditional Hindu Indian wedding ceremony site is a large, colorful, decorated wedding structure. It is called the mandap. The mandap is integral part of the Hindu ceremony. ceremony. It’s sacred and a symbol of love. In Hindi, the word, mandap means covered structure with pillars. Similar to Jewish weddings, the structure serves as the altar.
This is the first activity on the day of the wedding. This usually happen in the morning. The groom’s party and family members arrive at the venue and are welcomed by the bride’s family. Traditionally, the father of the bride embraced the older brothers of the groom and offered a lota (a brass cup) of water with coins and flowers as a sign of welcome. Traditionally, the groom rides in on a decorated horse or elephant.
….or flies in in an airplane….:
Today, a fancy sports car is preferred. As an Indian wedding photographer, I always recommend an open vehicle like a convertible so I can take great photos of you and your family members. In this photo, my groom used a famous DeLorean (time machine) from the movie: “Back to the future”.
As you can see the doors open up and give the photographer an open view. closed vehicles are not the best because the camera only sees your head. The baraat involves a lot of dancing and singing as he enters with a parade of his family members and friends.
The bride’s mother and female relatives welcomes the groom by offering aarti and gifts.
The groom is escorted to the mandap and opening prayers are offering on his behalf. The brother of the bride will further welcome the groom.
A ceremonial offering of honey, and dahie is offered to the groom wishing him health and strength. The groom performs puja and havan with the bride’s father under the mandap.
The bride enters and prayers are offering on her behalf. Under the mandap, at the beginning of the ceremony, the bride sits on the opposite side facing the groom.
The bride is officially given in marriage to the groom. The ceremony involves the bride holding a loya of flour in her hand assisted by her parents and her brother offering a lota of water in a slow continuous stream over their hands and into the hand of the groom. In the end, the groom formally accepts the “gift” of the bride.
A sacred yellow cloth is joined to the clothing of the couple as a symbol of their spiritual union together. The bride is then escorted to sit on the right side of the groom. They perform havan to mark their first worship of God as husband and wife.
The bride’s family and friends offer their blessing to the couple by ceremoniously washing their feet performing aarti and giving them gifts.
The couple walks around the fire and altar seven times together. The bride leads four times and the groom leads three times. Agni (fire) serves as a witness to the marriage and they ask the blessings of the devatas by ceremoniously walking around the altar. After, the bride remains seated on the right side of the groom.
The couple exchanges their vows pledging their economic, social, moral, and religious commitment to each other. The bride then moves from the right side to the left side of the groom.
Sindhoor is the red powder Indian grooms put on the forehead of their brides close to the end of the traditional Hindu Indian wedding ceremony. Long time ago, The groom applies sindhoor to the forehead of the bride under the privacy of a cloth covering the couple. Today, brides and grooms do it openly so everybody can see it. The wearing of the sindhoor by married women is a symbol of their wedded state. This is probably the most important element ot the ceremony. It is the symbol of matrimony similar to Christian and Jewish wedding ring. Sindoor, the red powder, is first put on the bride by her husband on the day of her wedding. It signifies her never-dying love and devotion towards her husband. As an Indian wedding photographer, I always love to capture this sindoor for every Hindu Indian wedding.
Mudrika (ring) Dann
Rings are exchanged. The couple also gives each other a garland of flowers.
A Mangal Sutra (auspicious necklace) is offered to the bride by the groom. This ritual has been incorporated from Western wedding traditions. The original Hindu wedding ceremony didn’t include a ring exchange.
The groom’s elder brother welcomes the bride to the family by presenting her with a simple woolen necklace and a gift. He pledges his support to the couple.
The bride’s father on behalf of his family will offer his thank you to everyone. The couple is blessed and prayers offered on their behalf by the pundit and guests.
This is my favorite part of the Indian wedding ceremony. I love emotions and a little bit of drama. My camera loves these moments! This is the most touching moment of the ceremony. This is the time when the bride officially says goodbye to her parents and joins the grooms family. Traditionally, the brides leaves her family and becomes part of her new family. It is essentially the Indian bride farewell ritual.