14 Indian Wedding Traditions & Customs – Ultimate Guide
Indian weddings are a feast for all the senses. A marriage in India is a fusion of festive galas and traditions infused with colours of the festival and music, dancing, embellished wedding attire, and sumptuous meals. But Indian weddings are special for more reasons than just the sights, sounds, and smells. Every marriage in India is unique, embedded in centuries-old customs and rituals that have been passed down for generations.
Wedding customs can vary from region to region and community to community; their true beauty lies in this diversity. From pre-wedding rituals to post-wedding customs, we can explore how religion, culture, and geography shape Indian weddings. Join us as we take you on a journey through the many facets of Indian weddings, from the elaborate preparations to the joyous celebrations.
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Indian Prewedding Traditions
1. Roka Ceremony
The Roka ceremony, which can be called a prelude, is an official announcement. This is an Indian engagement ceremony that balances age-old customs with modern zest. Usually, the event is held at the family home of the bride and begins with a sacred puja or prayer. Hindu weddings mostly start with the Ganesha puja, where the families of the bride and groom come together for the ritual.
They gather together for the well-being and prosperity of the bride and groom. This is followed by the ring exchange ceremony, which implies the love and commitment of the couple. This grand ceremony is an event where the families can come together and bond as they get ready for the upcoming nuptials.
2. Haldi Ceremony
The Haldi ceremony is gaining more prominence these days and is often planned and organised at both the family homes of the bride and groom. This is a private ceremony and is attended by a close-knit circle. The elder women of the family would prepare the golden turmeric paste, which is anointed on the faces and hands of the couple. It was believed that applying Haldi not only cleanses the skin, gives a glow, or just acts as a purgation agent but also wards off the buri nazar.
Some also mix sandalwood, rose water, or other auspicious ingredients while preparing the paste. These days, the Haldi ceremony is well celebrated as a splendid event with the help of the popular event management coordinators, who can help us take the event to the next level by integrating pre-wedding décor themes, programmes, and other fun activities.
3. Mehndi Ceremony
The Mehndi ceremony is an integral pre-wedding ceremony that is held in the evening or just before the wedding night. This customary ceremony was traditionally conducted to safeguard the bride from the evil eye and is applied by close friends and relatives. This ceremony is most popular in all Indian, Muslim, and Sikh cultures, and the bride is the main focus of the ceremony.
The bride’s hands and feet are adorned with intricate henna designs that include flowers, leaves, and even geometric patterns. Nowadays, we can also avail ourselves of the help of professional henna artists, who can help us create beautiful designs.
4. Sangeet Ceremony
The Sangeet ceremony is a cheerful ceremony that typically takes place at the home of the soon-to-be bride and is well celebrated with dancing and music. This pre-wedding ceremony is a must-have event in most Hindu weddings, Gujarati weddings, and Punjabi weddings.
Conventionally, the event was celebrated only by the female family members of both the bride and groom and was organised to help the bride and groom relax and enjoy themselves. Now things have changed for male members of the family. The Sangeet ceremony helps strengthen the bond between families and friends.
Indian Wedding Day Celebration
5. Baraat Ceremony
The Baraat is an Indian wedding traditional ceremony. It is the most vibrant event that airs every now and then and lets the good times roll. It is among the most energetic and lively processions that mark the entry of the bridegroom to the wedding venue. The sprightly Baraat Indian wedding procession is often encircled by rhythmic dhols, bands, trumpets, live music and dance, and other add-ons.
The baraat ceremony was a multiday affair in the days when limited conveyance facilities were available. People used to take their groom’s baraat on elephants, horses, or camels, but now things have changed. Now the Bhaar in Indian marriage has been abridged to an hour’s time or so, and people are doing their best using other transportation facilities available.
6. Jaimala Ceremony
The Jaimala ceremony is often confused with the Varmala ceremony. This Indian wedding tradition kindles the beginning of Hindu weddings. The Jaimala event marks the union of two souls and can even be seen in the age of the great Indian epics. Here, the garland made of fresh flowers like marigolds, roses, or jasmine is exchanged by the bride and groom before the mangal sutra ceremony.
This signifies the couple’s acceptance of each other and their readiness to get started on the matrimonial journey together. This ceremony marks the beginning of the matrimonial odyssey, with the promise of love.
7. Varmala Ceremony
The Varmala ceremony is again similar to the Jaimala ceremony and is most common in any Indian wedding. The word Varmala comes from the Hindi word “var mala” which means “garland of flowers”. In some regions, people plan the Jaimala and Varmala exchange ceremonies as a single wedding ritual, which mostly takes place on the arrival of the bridegroom at the wedding venue, accompanied by a live procession.
The bride and groom would stand with each other and exchange garlands with each other, indicating their bond and acceptance of each other as partners, and they would be together forever.
8. Mandap Ceremony
The wedding Mandap is a four-pillar structure that denotes the four elements of nature, or in some traditions, it represents the parents of the bride and the groom. It is a consecrated space that gives an auspicious setting for the marriage ceremony and is typically adorned with wedding flowers, colourful draperies, leaves of banana, mango, coconut fronds, flowers, etc.
In Hindu or Jain wedding ceremonies, we could see statues of gods, a sacred fire, pots of water, earthen pots, etc., and the decors can differ according to regional customs and traditions as well as personal preferences. Usually, the mandaps are made of metal or wood, and these days, we can get assistance from professional event planners who provide modern mandaps that can be customised to go well with the wedding theme.
9. Kanyadaan Ceremony
Kanyadaan means giving away the daughter and is an event that holds a special place in the hearts of the bride and groom. This event is a selfless act of giving and is a main part of any Indian wedding. Witnessing the Agni, amidst the holy chants, prayers, and blessings of elders, the parents of the bride give away the beloved daughter to the bridegroom and entrust him with all her responsibilities.
This is indeed a heart-touching moment, indicating love, dearness, and affection. The groom takes on the responsibilities, and this shows their enthusiasm to get started on the matrimonial journey.
10. Saptapadi Ceremony
Etymologically speaking, the word sapta means seven, and padi means seven, so the word saptapadi means seven steps taken together by the newlyweds during the wedding ceremony. Saptapadi is considered the most important ritualistic rite of a Hindu wedding and is just after the Kanyadaan ceremony. During this ceremony, the bride’s father places his daughter’s right hand in the groom’s right hand, reciting prayers.
Chanting prayers, the bride’s mother pours theertha or holy water on the father’s hand, holding the hands of the newlyweds together. Seeking the prayers and blessing of the guest, the couple takes seven steps together around the Agni in the Mandap. They will be moving in a clockwise direction, promising they will be together for each other through the hills and valleys, and the ceremony is followed by the Mangalsutra ceremony.
11. Sindoor and Mangalsutra
The sindoor, known as vermillion and the mangal sutra are the primary symbols of most Indian wedding scenes. The red sindoor denotes the feminine energy of Parvati and Sati as per Hindu mythology. A dash of red sindoor is put on by the groom on the hairline of the bride during the wedding, signifying the beginning of her matrimonial journey.
Mangalsutra is known by different names in different cultures, such as Maangalyamu, Minnu, Pustelu, Ramar Thaali, Mahar, Thali, Bottu, etc. While the design, pattern, and type of Mangalysutra differ according to religious beliefs or regional customs, there are communities that do not follow the same. Wearing sindoor or mangal sutra stands as a symbol of matrimony, and people nowadays go with custom designs other than the yellow thread, a long gold chain with knots, a chain with black beads, or diamond pendants, and it purely depends on their likes and preferences.
12. Ashirvad and Bidai
The word Ashirwad means blessings. The Ashirwad is a Hindu wedding ceremony distinct from the Bengali ashirwad ceremony. So you may be wondering what the ceremony of Ashirway is. The bride and the groom seek the heartfelt blessings of everyone.
Prior to the departure of the couple from the mandap, parents, grandparents, elders, relatives, and all the guests gathered at the wedding would bless the couple, showering them with flower petals and rice as acceptance and confirmation of this happy union. They all wish the couple a happy and prosperous journey together.
Guess what follows? The Bidai ceremony. This is the last ceremony on the wedding day and holds significance as an integral part of Indian weddings. Bidaai in Indian weddings, also known as Vidai, Vidaai, Bidaai, or Doli, is an emotional moment where the parents of the bride bid farewell to their dear daughter. Unlike other ceremonies that weave the tale of happily ever after, this emotional custom of Bidaai can be bitter as it airs the feeling of separation.
Before leaving the parental home, there is a customary practice where the bride throws rice and coins backward over her head into the home. This Indian wedding tradition implies that the bride pays off her parents for bringing her up with great love and care. The bitter-sweet Bidaai ceremony marks the beginning of a new life, and the family wishes the bride to embark on a new chapter alongside her groom.
Indian Post-Wedding Traditions
13. Grihapravesh Ceremony
The Grihapravesh ceremony denotes a fresh start for the bride at her new marital home. The event marks the formal entry of the bride and groom after marriage and also denotes her integration. A jar or Kalash filled with rice is kept at the entrance of the home, and the bride has to push and topple it with her right foot while entering the home.
This is a ceremony that not only welcomes the bride to the new home but also imparts a sense of unity and wholeheartedly integrates her into the family. In some communities, this customary wedding ritual is followed by stepping into a plate with Alta. As the bride walks into the new home, auspicious red footprints are left, which symbolise the arrival of Lakshmi into the home.
There are some fun banters we can expect in a Grihapravesh ceremony, like the Dwar Rokai ceremony, where the sister of the groom does not let the couple enter the house unless her brother meets the demands for gifts or cash. There are other traditional wedding games like Aeki-Beki, Mooh dikhai ki rasam, etc. All the post-wedding games are performed just to make the bride comfortable in her new home.
14. Wedding Reception
A wedding reception in India serves as a sign of hospitality for those who have attended the marriage. It is commonly a celebratory gala that fuses tradition with modernity. Guests can enjoy the magnificent decor, mouthwatering cuisine, and riveting entertainment. Dances, talks, and music brighten the mood as they begin their joint existence.
The wedding celebration reflects their journey into a future that brims with love, friendship, and shared goals. With music, laughter, vivid decorations, and mouthwatering fragrances, it’s a sensory feast honouring the couple’s new journey.
North Indian Wedding Traditions
A North Indian wedding is made up of a big and joyful mixture of traditions. The celebrations frequently begin with the vivacious Sangeet ceremony, which is characterised by song and dancing. The beautiful bride moves beneath the exquisite Sehra as a symbol that her groom will soon arrive while wearing gorgeously embellished wedding attire.
Vedic chants are performed while vows are exchanged in front of the sacred fire during the Agni ceremony. The pheras, circling the fire, indicate eternal union. Post-wedding, the jovial Bidaai signifies the bride’s emotional departure to her new abode. These traditions are emblematic of North India’s rich heritage, steeped in time-honoured rituals and exuberant festivities.
Enveloped in the grace of Southern India, wedding traditions resonate with profound sanctity and grace. A South Indian wedding ceremony get starts with vrathams both by the groom and the bride. Weddings in south India which usually start with Gauri Ganesh Puja are a mesmerising blend of rituals that underscore spiritual significance. The bride’s resplendent Kanchipuram saree and intricate temple jewellery mirror her timeless elegance.
The striking Maalai Muhurtham marks the exchange of floral garlands, an emblem of acceptance. The Kanyadaan ceremony signifies the father’s trust and the bestowing of responsibility. The binding Thali ceremony unites the couple in the divine presence. The groom’s gesture of tying the thali around the bride’s neck signifies eternal togetherness. Amidst melodious Nadaswaram tunes, the couple takes seven steps in the Saptapadi, vowing lifelong companionship. South Indian weddings, steeped in tradition and piety, embody the region’s cherished cultural legacy.
East Indian Wedding Traditions
East Indian wedding traditions weave an enticing tale of awe and tradition. An East Indian marriage celebrates ethnic nuances that define its own appeal, while its essence is defined by simplicity and warmth. The Aiburo Bhaat, a ceremonial feast honouring the bride’s farewell meal at the family house, strikes off the prelude.
The Gaye Holud ceremony involves applying the paste of turmeric to the bride and groom, signifying blessings and purification. When the groom arrives on the wedding day, it is celebrated with a soborjayon, which is followed by prayers. The newlywed couple pays homage to their elders and seeks blessings from the Anjali ritual.
The bride is welcomed into her new family during the concluding Bou Bhat. East Indian weddings glow with heart and legacy, encapsulating the area’s enduring traditions, set to mesmerising Bengali music.
West Indian Wedding Traditions
Western Indian wedding traditions include toasts, first dances, and cake cutting. They are a reflection of the region’s energy and sense of identity. A Western Indian wedding is a stunning occasion with incredible customs and traditions. The vibrant Mehendi event, which is a celebration of love and beauty, praises the bride’s unique henna designs.
The baraat parade is headed by the groomsmen and goes with the merriment of singing and dancing. Just like other wedding traditions, the mangal sutra and distribution of garlands, or varmala, and even the saptapadi are well integrated in a way that echoes the colourful personalities of the area mirrored in West Indian wedding traditions.
Fusion Wedding/Blending Traditions
A fusion wedding, just as the name indicates, celebrates beauty with diversity. It is a ceremony where love transcends cultural barriers to create an event that resonates with warmth and acceptance. Here, we witness the way multiple customs have been ingeniously knitted throughout to create an exclusive and genuine celebration.
The festivities have additional appeal as a result of the diverse fusion of cultures. The seamless integration of traditions from multiple cultures reflects the shared journey of the bride and the groom. Whether it is a fusion of Eastern or Oriental and Occidental traditions, between northern and southern Indian ceremonies, or a worldwide potpourri, the fusion wedding reflects love and harmony and represents the happy union of the couple.
Indian Weddings: A Celebration of Love, Family, and Tradition
Indian weddings are a celebration of love, family, and tradition. They are a beautiful blend of cultures and traditions, and they capture the spirit of unity, diversity, and enduring love. If you are planning an Indian wedding, or if you are simply interested in the beauty and richness of cultural traditions, contact Symphony Events, the No. 1 luxury wedding planner in Sydney.
Symphony will help you design a harmonious wedding that matches your unique style and lets you enjoy the beauty of each moment without the stress of the wedding day. Contact Symphony Events today to start planning your dream Indian wedding!