An Indian wedding is a festival in many rights. It usually comprises a week-long celebration with traditions and ceremonies that are specific to that community or region. However, there are some standard quirks that you’ll see at every Indian wedding, irrespective of which caste, creed, region or tribe you belong to. And, these are what make an Indian wedding an affair to remember.
Let’s take a look at a few:
The Shehnai is the quintessential wedding instrument for Indian festivities and ceremonies. It is a popular aero phonic, double-reed wind instrument used in North Indian music. The sound of the Shehnai is intrinsically associated with Indian wedding music and retains its charm to this day. It is predominantly associated with celebration and happiness, and no wedding ceremony is complete without a seasoned bandwala churning out heart-wrenching music from this peculiar-looking descendent of the Persian surna.
The marigold flower, also known locally as ‘the Genda Phool’, is another classic element in Indian weddings. Marigolds have forever been associated in India with prosperity and good fortune, and no larger-than-life celebration is complete without the presence of these sun-kissed blossoms in decorations and important ceremonies. In fact, they even hold religious significance in Hindu ceremonies. In addition, marigolds come in bright and cheery colours such as orange, yellow, and reddish-orange, which have made them a favourite with wedding decorators and event planners. They are often used for torans, draped on walls and pillars, in mandap decorations as well as in wedding garlands or they’re simply used to add colourful touches to the wedding venues.
If you haven’t been to an Indian wedding yet, attend one just for the food. Food is an integral part of festivities in any part of the world, but Indians take this concept to a whole new level. Indian cuisine is a diverse mix of regional staples from across the country, infused with their own cultural, religious flavour. However, Indian weddings usually house a host of cuisines from across the globe and not just the country. Apart from your average Indian spread of chaats, curries, breads, pulavs and biryanis, these days you’ll usually be treated to lip-smacking desi versions of Italian, Chinese, Thai and Mediterranean food as well. To experience a meal at an Indian wedding is one for every bucket list!
‘Haldi’, known around the world as turmeric, holds an important place in Indian wedding festivities. Though weddings in the country are generally religiously diverse, the haldi ceremony is a typically Indian tradition for every caste and creed. Known among different communities as haldi, uptan, peethi, mandha, roce and many other names, the essentials of this ceremony remain pretty much the same. In the ceremony, a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, rose water and other goodness is applied to the bride and the groom’s body before their wedding to give them that added pre-nuptial glow. In short, it’s like your very own ancient Indian spa day!
The baraat is the most fun-filled Indian wedding ceremony, and Indian weddings deserve a separate category for how fun and entertaining they are. This is basically the groom’s procession of all his colourful and festive relatives and friends that commences from his house up to the wedding venue. The spruced up groom is perched on a mare (or elephant, if you’re going for the truly regal feel) in all his royalty and escorted to his eagerly waiting bride. The highlight of this ceremony is the crazy dancing the relatives indulge in during the procession. It’ll truly make you feel like Indians are the happiest people on this planet (at weddings at least).
Sangeet, or music, is synonymous with festivities in India, be it the shehnai at the wedding reception, the bhangda at the after party, the dholakwalis at the mehendi, or the sangeet ceremony before the actual wedding. The tradition, as the name suggests, is all about dance, music, and merry making. This is usually a grand, elaborate affair, encompassing the real spirit of the big fat Indian wedding. In addition, it’s a great opportunity for the wedding party to relax, unwind, enjoy the festivities, and celebrate their happiness together. It short, the sangeet is great to break the ice between the bride and groom’s families.
The Saree is one Indian trend that’s garnered attention worldwide. This long, seamless fabric worn by women varies in design, colour and significance in different regions in India. The South Indian kanjivaram is poles apart from the Gujarati panetar and bandhani sarees and Mangalorean sados. Each saree is symbolic of a different tradition and ritual. Banarasi, Nauvari, Chiffon, Chanderi, the list is endless. Needless to say, you’re bound to look elegant in this gorgeous garment as it suits any body type, skin tone, and age group!
Safas, pagris or turbans are known for their elegant, regal look and are a significant detail in the Indian groom’s attire. It is basically a long piece of unstitched cloth that’s wrapped around the head. Available in bright colours such as fuschia, red, orange and so on, they add a touch of grace and vibrancy to the ensemble, and can be paired brilliantly with a suit, jodhpuri, sherwani or any other traditional wedding attire.
Lots and lots of Gold
Indians, in most parts of the world, are considered gold crazy. This isn’t far from the truth, largely because this precious metal holds a special place in Indian tradition and society as a whole. Gold purchases are also thought to be auspicious on festivals such as Dhanteras, Onam and Durga Puja. From the Indian perspective, gold not only brings good fortune, but can be an investment, a status symbol, a great ornament, a thoughtful gift item, a cherished heirloom and a religious contribution. Indian brides are usually adorned in beautiful gold jewellery as a sign of prosperity and happiness, which bodes quite well for the global gold industry.
After-meal refreshments are quite popular at Indian weddings and are the perfect end to any meal. Paan and mukhwas have been used for years by Indian royalty and locals alike as a digestive and palate cleanser. Mukhwas comprises an assortment of aromatic colourful seeds and nuts coated with various flavours. Paans basically consist of saffron, gulkand (rose jam), sweetened cashews and almonds, and other minty elements wrapped in a betel leaf. These refreshments are usually set towards the exit of the venue or near the food counters so guests can help themselves after the meal. All we can say is that these minty surprises at the end of the meal are totally worth the wait!
These little quirks and peculiarities truly help make Indian weddings memorable affairs. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what the Indian wedding scene has to offer. The details is what makes these festivities a true experience for any wedding lover.