Indigenous Indian wedding food contains elements of spice in it but in this case, non spicy refers to the fact that the ceremonies are yet to be spiced-up by western wedding practices. As other cultures willingly embrace western style weddings, traditional Indian weddings have remained uniquely admirable and cultured.
If anything it’s the western communities who incorporate elements of Indian traditions into their ceremonies. The most imitated element is the dress code.
The groom’s attire is colorful but not as intricate as that of the bride. His famous shoe is called Mojari and his clothing is known as Sherwani.
The bride on the other hand, will wear a combination of clothes, jewelry and make up known as Solah Shringar, which contains 16 pieces. Her garments are supposed to be red in color to signify fertility and prosperity.
Besides the dressing the other customs and traditions of an Indian wedding include:
In Hindu tradition, instead of the exchange of rings, the groom ties a Mangalsutra around the bride’s neck. A mangalsutra is a necklace which contains two pendants. Culturally the groom is supposed to tie three knots to represent a strong bond that will last a hundred years.
At the wedding ceremony the bride’s brother pours rice grains into his sister’s hands. The grains pass through the groom's hands placed below hers and into a sacred fire known as Agni.
The ceremony takes place under a Mandap, which is a structure made up of four pillars. It is similar to the Chuppah which is essential for Jewish weddings.
On the morning of the wedding a tradition known as a haldi ceremony is observed. It is believed to bless the couple by moisturizing their skin is performed by family members of both sides. They concoct a mixture of turmeric, oil and water and apply it to the couple’s clothes and skin.
A day before the wedding, select women paint designs on the bride’s feet and hands in a Mehendi ceremony. Mehendi is another name for henna and it represents the bond between a wife and her husband.
Women from both families together with the bride attend a Sangeet party where they enjoy dancing and songs. When the Mehendi and Sangeet party are combined, the women bring the bride gifts. The Sangeet party is similar to a bachelorette party in a western style wedding.
The first ceremony in an Indian wedding is where the groom’s parents offer the couple gifts and solid sugar known as Misri to wish them sweetness in their future. The ceremony is called Misri and it’s where the couple exchange rings, flower garlands and prayers.
A common fun ritual at an Indian wedding is when the saalis or bridesmaids hide the groom’s shoes. If he is unsuccessful at finding them, tradition dictates that he pays up for the shoes.
Among many other rituals, another fun tradition involves the couple drinking a mixture of sindoor, a red powder, milk and water that is drowned in coins and a ring. Whoever finds the ring first will rule the new household.
Differences With An American Wedding
A common purchase for an Indian wedding not found in a western wedding is a sari. A sari is a female drapery dress.
The mandap is an important structure at an Indian wedding because it’s where through rituals the couple becomes officially married.
Days before the main ceremony, both families hold a puja, which is an event where the families pray to Lord Ganesha for protection from any obstacles to the couple’s life ahead.
Led by a priest the couple and their parents sit under the mandap. The first ritual observed here is kanya daan, when the bride’s parents give her away. The next ritual is mangal phera which involves the couple taking seven steps called saptapadi around the sacred fire, agni. They take the steps as they recite their vows to each other. The ceremony culminates with the groom tying a black beaded necklace around the bride’s neck and applying a red powder on her forehead. She is now a married woman.
The Wedding Party
A Punjab folk dance known as bhangra is among the main performances at the wedding. It is complemented with more traditional Indian song and dance.
Common foods include samosas, pakoras or fritters, a variation of curries served with a flatbread known as naan. The mouthwatering dessert is usually Indian ice cream called kulfi, nut sweets and cakes.
Before the bride becomes a wife, it’s her family’s responsibility to cater for all expenses for the ceremonies leading up to the main one. The groom’s family pays for the reception part of the wedding. They will also cater for ceremonies after the reception since the bride has joined their family.
Recently both families work harmoniously to split the wedding costs but the traditional arrangements are still common.
An Indian traditional wedding is a series of colorful religious rituals, tasty dishes, dance and song that is not going to be spiced up by western wedding practices anytime soon. Over the years imitations have tried but they have yet to scratch the surface of a cultural Indian wedding.