East Indian wedding ceremonies are some of the most exciting and colorful wedding celebrations, and are a sure way to add a unique flair and some important rituals to the special day. Any bride can choose to plan an Indian wedding theme for the rich colors and meaningful traditions, regardless of background and culture. Weddings can be as creative as the imagination of the bride. Simple variations and modifications of this theme can easily accommodate the disparate religious customs and cultural influences of each unique bride.
Decorating an Indian Wedding
Red and gold are the traditional colors of an Indian wedding. Blue and yellow are often incorporated into the decorations. Traditionally the bride's and groom's homes are decorated with colorful balloons and vibrant decorations on the ceilings, walls and floors. A bride might consider having the reception hall filled with colorful balloons to incorporate this element. Red table runners, gold and red chair sashes, and gold candelabras accent this theme perfectly. Colorful uplighting can create an added effect to the decorations and celebrations. Roses, marigolds and orchids are flowers typically used at Indian wedding celebrations. Bright colorful flowers line the aisle and surround the mandap.
Traditionally, the bride is adorned with gold jewelry and henna. The bride typically wears a silk red sari that is embroidered with gold threads and beads. The groom wears a long jacket (sherwani), and trousers (churidas). The groom's attire is commonly gold and white, and is usually color coordinated with the bride. His loafers (mojari) are usually made of leather.
Rituals of an Indian Wedding
Pre-wedding and post-wedding rituals and celebrations of a Hindu wedding usually last for several days, but this can be modified to suit the bride. A Hindu wedding begins with Baraat. The Baraat is the groom’s celebration, and is dedicated to welcoming the groom’s family to the wedding venue. The groom is accompanied by family members, friends and groomsmen to the wedding venue in a procession. Traditionally, the groom arrives on a white horse. However, a modern variation of this tradition is for the groom to have his Baraat entrance in an extravagant limousine. Upon arriving at the venue, the groom is greeted by the bride’s family, and tilak or red colored paste is applied to his forehead to ward off an evil eye. The groom continues into the venue to meet with the male relatives of the bride.
Music and dance are a significant part of every Indian wedding celebration, and are as dynamic as a Bollywood musical production. The music can be modern, traditional or any variation, as long as it is upbeat and festive for the occasion.
The Varmala ceremony is the moment when the bride and groom meet before the wedding. At this important ceremony, they exchange a garland of flowers, symbolic of acceptance of marriage. The ceremony hall should be decorated with colorful roses, marigolds and orchids. This ceremony signifies the beginning of the wedding rituals. The Groom makes his entrance to the wedding venue first, and awaits the mother of the bride. After the mother of the bride applies tilak on his forehead, he takes a seat at the mandap and awaits the bride to exchange the garland.
The rituals and process of the actual ceremony vary; however, there are three universal key rituals to incorporate into an Indian wedding. The key elements of the ceremony are Kanyadaan, when a father gives away his daughter, Panigrahana, when the groom takes the right hand of the bride, and Saptapadi, the seven steps around the fire.
Kanyadaan is a ritual that occurs after Varmala. It is a ceremony to symbolize the father giving away his daughter. The father takes his daughter’s right hand and places it into the grooms, and requests that he take his daughter as an equal partner. As the kama-sukta (hym to love) is recited, the groom accepts.
The Kamasukta verse is:
Who offered this maiden?, to whom is she offered? Kama (the god of love) gave her to me, that I may love her Love is the giver, love is the acceptor Enter thou, the bride, the ocean of love With love then, I receive thee May she remain thine, thine own, O god of love Verily, thou art, prosperity itself May the heaven bestow thee, may the earth receive thee
After joining their hands, the mother of the bride pours water over the palm of her husband’s hands, allowing it to trickle over the bride’s and groom’s hands. A dividing curtain between the bride and groom is lowered, and the meeting of the bride and groom or the Kanyadaan occurs.
Panigrahan is an important part of an Indian wedding. The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife. Sometimes the bride and groom sit holding hands while their hands are covered with a cloth to ward off an evil eye. The groom faces the west and the bride sits before him with her face looking towards the east, as the Rig vedic mantra is recited:
I take thy hand in mine, yearning for happiness I ask thee, to live with me, as thy husband Till both of us, with age, grow old Know this, as I declare, that the Gods Bhaga, Aryama, Savita and Purandhi, have bestowed thy person, upon me that I may fulfill, my Dharmas of the householder, with thee This I am, That art thou The Sāman I, the Ŗc thou The Heavens I, the Earth thou
Saptapadi signifies the union of the bride and groom. The marriage is not complete, unless the bride and groom take seven steps clockwise around the holy fire. This represents seven promises or vows to each other. The groom takes the bride by the hand and leads her four complete circles around the holy fire. Then the bride leads the groom the remaining three circles around the fire. With the completion of the seventh step, the marriage ceremony is complete.
If you are dreaming up a red and gold Indian wedding, dream no more. The Crystal Ballroom can create your unique version of a traditional Indian wedding to accommodate all the colors, customs and décor you envision.