Hindu Wedding Traditions

Arranged Marriages:

  • arranged marriages have been a part of Indian culture since the 4th century
  • marriage is treated as an alliance between two families
  • 95% of all current Indian marriages are arranged
  • the male's family is responsible for seeking the female
  • today, most people use online matchmaking sites such as shaadi.com and bharatmatrimony.com
  • once a match is found and arrangements are met, the two families meet to discuss dowry, time and location of the wedding, as well as education and the birth stars of the boy and the girl. If the two families agree, they shake hands and set a date for the wedding

Before the wedding:

  • Misri is the ring ceremony or engagement, this event is held to exchange gold wedding rings and the couple welcome each other with garlands and sweets. The bride's family presents the Matli which consists of large amounts of Indian sweets to the groom's family.
  • The Mendhi Party is a festive occasion celebrated by the bride's family. The bride and close female members of her family have henna painted on their hands and feet while the rest of the family celebrates with songs. This signifies the strength of love in a marriage so the bride tries to keep the henna on as long as possible.
  • Ghari Puja is performed on the eve of the wedding day in the homes of the couple. The priest performs prayers with rice, coconut, wheat grains, oil, betel nuts and turmeric. The mother and close female relatives dress up in their finery and carry earthenware pots of water on their head and plant a small stalk in their garden in celebration of the marriage. This is also combined with the cleansing ceremony (Pithi) during which the bride and groom and pasted with powder in a beautfiication process

Outfits and Jewelry:

  • The bride usually wears a red and white (red symbolizes fertility and white symbolizes purity) sari that is embroidered with gold thread, and floral garlands
  • Brides traditionally wear many pieces of jewelry including nose rings, earrings and necklaces along with the henna tattoos that they have on from the Mendhi Party
  • The groom wears traditional white with gold embellishments and floral garlands
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  • Marriage is the 13th cermony out of 16 in a person's life
  • There are typically 13 steps in a Hindu wedding ceremony
  • Many of these steps are similar in some ways to a traditional American wedding
  • Some that I found the most interesting and significant are Mangalashtak, Kanya Aagaman, Hasta Melap, Mangal Phera and Mangalsutra, and Kansar Bhojan.
  • Mangalashtak is when the priest asks all the planets, gods and goddesses to bless the couple with a happy and healthy life together
  • Kanya Aagaman is when the bride is led to the altar by her father and is separated by a white cloth from the groom
  • Hasta Melap is the tying of the hands together which signifies that they are tied together body, mind and soul for the rest of their lives
  • Mangal Phera is the Holy Steps around the Sacred Fire, the bride and groom circle the fire four times to signify the four basic human goals; dhamra (virtue), archa (wealth), kama (family), and moksha (enlightenment).
  • Mangalsutra is the sacred necklace that is offered by the groom to provide lifelong protection and he places red curry powder on the bride's forehead to show his love, integrity and devotion.
  • Kansar Bhojan is the first meal that the couple shares together and each is offered a sweet called Kansar

Works Cited:

"The Hindu Wedding Ceremony." Redhotcurry.com - Culture. The Hindu Wedding Ceremony. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

"Hindu Wedding Rituals." About.com Hinduism. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

"Hindu Weddings." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

"Wedding Ceremony." Wedding Ceremony. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

Much of the information I used on this project was given to me by a close friend of my dad's who lives in India and was recently married, all the pictures were from her wedding as well.