A Look At The North Indian Wedding Rituals

The religious proceedings during a wedding ceremony are taken very seriously in India and Indians place a lot of prominence on following traditions and rituals during the ceremony. Indian wedding rituals that tie the couple in holy matrimony are performed with faith and devotion to make the marriage last a lifetime. Even the ceremonies during the run up to the wedding have their own significance, deeply rooted in the culture of the country. Depending on the region in which the wedding is taking place, the rituals and customs are different. Today, we tell you what are the rituals that are conducted during a North Indian Wedding and also tell you the significance of each ritual. 

Sagai

Sagai is an Indian wedding ritual that precedes the wedding. It is nothing but the engagement ceremony where the couple exchanges rings and the date for the wedding is announced to the guests. The ceremony can take place a couple of months before the wedding or as is the case nowadays, a day or two before to save time and effort. The ceremony is like a official announcement of the impending nuptials and is akin to telling people in advance to ‘save the date’.

Haldi

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Haldi ceremony is an Indian wedding ritual that takes place a couple of days before the wedding, in the respective homes of the bride and groom-to-be. Haldi or turmeric is auspicious in Hindu texts and is said to ward off the evil eye. During this particular Indian wedding ritual, a fragrant paste of turmeric with rose water is applied on the face, hands and legs of the couple-to-be. It also works wonders on the skin, fighting blemishes and making it glow!

Sangeet

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The sangeet ceremony is not an Indian wedding ritual of a religious significance per se, but is more of a get together meant for fun. A ladies-only event, the sangeet ceremony involves the women of the family getting together and making merry two nights before the wedding day. It is more of a stress-buster, with lots of music, dancing and great food.

Mehendi

Mehendi, the temporary tattoo made with henna is said to be one of the sixteen adornments that a bride needs to wear for her wedding. For the same reason, the mehendi ceremony is held before the wedding. During this Indian wedding ritual, elaborate henna designs are applied on the hands and feet of the bride amidst music, dance and general merriment. Sometimes, the mehendi and the sangeet ceremonies are held together for convenience.

Baraat and Tika Ceremony

On the day of the wedding, the bridegroom and his family arrive at the venue in a formal procession called the baraat. The groom arrives on a horse or a slow moving convertible car with the party surrounding him dancing to beats. They are welcomed at the entrance by the bride’s family with a traditional tika on the forehead. This Indian wedding ritual is the last formality before the actual proceedings of the nuptials begin.

Jai Mala or Var Mala Ceremony

The bride arrives at the mandap, flanked by family after the arrival of the groom. They exchange garlands and are made to sit next to each other. This Indian wedding ritual is called the Jai Mala ceremony.

Kanyadaan

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This is the most important Indian wedding ritual which is similar to ‘giving away the bride’. The bride’s father gives her hand to her husband-to-be and pours water over it. From that moment on, the girl is said to belong to the husband and his family.

Pheras

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Soon after, the bride and the groom sit amidst chanting of hymns that invoke the blessings of the gods in order to tie the couple together in matrimony. The groom ties the mangalsutra or the holy necklace around the bride’s neck and applies sindoor on her forehead, signifying that they are married. Just as the western weddings have ‘vows’ or promises, Indian wedding rituals include the ‘Phera ceremony’ where in the couple circumambulate around the holy fire and make promises to each other. Once 7 rounds are completed, the couple is said to be wed to each other.

Vidaai

Post the pheras, there are other small Indian wedding rituals that vary from caste to caste, but broadly, the pheras are said to indicate the end of the wedding ceremony. The bride is then sent away to the husband’s home to start a new life. It is a very emotional moment, where the parents of the bride tearfully wed her adieu. She symbolically moves into her new phase by throwing some rice or coins towards her parents house, without turning back. This Indian wedding ritual is to ensure that the bride’s parent’s house remains prosperous even after their daughter, considered to be their ‘Lakshmi’ leaves home.

This brings us to the end of the Indian wedding rituals that are observed in North India. It is quite possible that we missed a ceremony or two, given the number of rituals that are observed among different parts of North India, that vary from community to community. In case you are aware of any major ritual that we missed, we’d love to hear from you!

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