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The delightful details of a Hindu wedding. When it comes to getting married, what couple genuinely wants their special day to end? These elaborate, bright and tradition-packed celebrations tend to go on for a of days before the actual wedding ceremony even begins. While Indian culture tends to practice several different religions, including Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, and much more, the religion that seems to shine brightest in the wedding scene is Hinduism. The myriad of traditional and elegant ceremonies that make up a Hindu wedding not only brings the families of the bride and groom closer together, but also ensures that no one leaves the festivities without having a good time.
Thanks to the fact that many variations of Hindu traditions have been blended into the Indian culture, even those who do not practice Hinduism will take the opportunity to borrow some of the ceremonies and incorporate them into their special day. A few examples of these must-have ceremonies that can be seen before the wedding include: the Haldi - which is a purification of the couple with a paste made of Turmeric powder, the Mehndi - which means the time when the bride is decorated with intricate and beautiful Henna des, and the Sangeet - which is a celebration that takes place about a day before the wedding.
This is when family and friends come together to dance and eat delicious food in an exciting pre-wedding celebration. While each one of the mentioned events is wonderful in their own, together they lead up to the most important day - the wedding day, where a beautiful celebration of the ed couple can commence.
Just like many traditional weddings around the world, Hindu wedding couples tend to prepare for their special day separately. However, this prep time can vary in the fact that it may take closer to hours for everyone to get ready as opposed to just one or two.
Once the actual wedding day arrives, outfits, makeup, and hair will be done like most weddings. However, the details are very important, so every little thing will take time to make it perfect! Unlike traditional American weddings where the bride wears white and the groom is decked out in a tuxedo, Hindu couples are usually covered in colorful fabrics and gold jewelry. It is not out of the ordinary for the bride to have multiple dresses for all of the different ceremonies, however for the wedding itself, the traditional color is either red or pink. The groom will wear a Kafni, a long shirt that extends past the knees and some Pijamo leggings.
To tie the look together, some grooms may also wear an elaborate and beautiful turban to complete the outfit. Hindu weddings are no exception and the wedding site is typically, decked out from floor to rafters with elaborate decorations.
The decor is usually comprised of floral des, ornate furniture, statues of beloved deities, candles, chandeliers, bright fabrics, and much more! While the idea is to make the entire wedding location elaborate, there is one area in particular where much of the focus and attention will go. The main centerpiece of the wedding ceremony is known as the mandap or altar and it is where the couple will actually perform the wedding nuptials.
This location is where much of the decorations will reside as it is the primary setting for everything that will take place during the ceremony. Because there are so many details in a Hindu wedding, many couples will opt to have a photographer duo in order to capture as much of their day as possible; one to focus on the main ceremony itself, and the other to focus on photographing all of the little details that go into the decor and set up.
Without this extra help, one photographer would most likely miss a lot of important moments and cherished features of the wedding. As mentioned before, this location is the centerpiece for the wedding decor and serves as the stage for where the ceremony and all the Indian wedding rituals will take place.
Because of the religious offerings and rituals that are performed by the priests on this structure, no shoes are allowed onto the Mandap at any time during the ceremony. Each of the four pillars holding up the Mandap represents the four parents who worked hard to raise their children into the best people possible. Raised up onto a platform, the Mandap allows every guest a clear view of the couple from the comfort of their seats and almost adds an even more reverent feeling to the ceremony.
Beautiful flowers surround the pillars, garlands of mango and banana leaves adding a wild feel to the indoors. Pots of water catch the light and statues of deities one of which is usually Ganesh, the Elephant god of beginnings, good fortune, and the remover of obstacles make the ceremony site breathtaking. As well, a sacred fire is located on the Mandap so that the priest and couple can provide religious offerings to the flames throughout the ceremony.
Without a doubt, the Mandap is an integral piece to the overall success and beauty of a Hindu wedding. Although this tradition is seen more often in American weddings, some Indian couples may opt for having a first look meeting. These opportunities allow for a very personal and intimate moment between the bride and groom before the flurry of wedding activities ensues. In a moment of silence and bliss, a couple can take each other in and photographers have a chance to capture tears and sweet kisses away from everything else.
Although some couples may want to save their first time seeing each other for their meeting at the altar, a first look can bring out some of the most emotional moments of the entire day. Additionally, capturing these important shots during a first look allows for more time to photograph the family before the reception without them having to feel rushed. Once the first look has taken place, everyone can move into their places in order to get the big day officially started! To kick the festivities off in a Hindu and Sikh wedding, the groom will be led to the wedding venue with a processional and usually atop a regal steed.
Typically, the animal used will be a white horse and is known as a ghodi. A few other options that have been utilized in the past are camels, impressive vehicles, or a rickshaw. Besides the transportation, the Baraat is made up of family members, the groomsmen, and friends also called baraatis. The entire pace of the wedding day is set up by this activity alone, based on the music used and the upbeat tempo that the party is moving too. As can be imagined, the excitement and anticipation is high during this time while the much-anticipated day finally begins.
Perhaps the biggest question that many have in regards to the Baraat has to do with the bride. Where is she during this ceremony? More often than not, she is secretly watching from afar! She cannot participate because traditionally the Baraat is a ceremony specifically deed to welcome the groom and his family to the wedding location.
There is a Punjabi tradition that has been adopted by Hindu weddings known as the Milni. In this ceremony, which takes place before the Baraat, the two fathers from each respective family come to meet as a show of union between their houses. As part of this bonding tradition, the male family members particularly the fathers will exchange garlands, and may even attempt to lift each other up as a fun little challenge to see who can accomplish the feat first! When this ritual is complete, the groom will be escorted to the Mandap to await his beautiful bride. Now that the groom has reached the Mandap , it will be time for the priest to invoke the blessing of Lord Ganesh before the wedding rituals begin.
This puja, or ceremony, is important for a Hindu wedding, as it is performed with the intention of bestowing good luck upon the couple and their families, in order to ward off any obstacles or hindrance that may get in their way as the couple sets out on their new life together. Interestingly enough, while no Hindu wedding would be complete without the Ganesh Puja , many auspicious ceremonies in the Hindu religion will not commence without a prayer to Lord Ganesh.
There is no doubt that this particular god is extremely important to the culture surrounding this huge life-changing event. The wedding site has been blessed, everyone is waiting breathlessly, and now, it is time for the bride herself to arrive. Once the bride reaches the Mandap , it is time for the official wedding ceremony to begin. The bride is usually escorted to the structure by her maternal aunt and uncle, which ifies the acceptance of the union from the maternal side of the family. Not only is such a tradition a wonderful way to get family further involved in the union of the couple, but having family involved also shows their support and love for the bride as she makes the journey to her groom.
Finally, the bride has reached the Mandap and the ceremony can commence, right? Not quite! There are still a couple of rituals set in place that aid in making this ing of bride and groom all the more special. During the Muhurtham , the couple will see each other officially for the first time -regardless of whether they did a first look or not. Where the groom sits on the Mandap separates him from where the bride is located by a bright and beautiful cloth, known as an antarpat.
Now that the cloth has been removed, the bride and groom can stare lovingly at one another, aling that the commencement of their wedding can proceed as planned. Presenting each other with beautiful flower garlands, the exchange between bride and groom will represent the acceptance and union of their ceremony. Once both garlands have been exchanged, the couple can then take their seats on the Mandap besides each other. This is a common tradition in most weddings, but for a Hindu wedding, it is a bit more involved. While their hands are still ed, the mother of the bride will pour sacred water over the palm of her husband, allowing it to fall through his fingers and onto the ed hands of the bride and groom.
Once the Kanyadaan has come to a close, the sacred fire will be lit; ifying the start of the Vivaah Homa ceremony. This particular section of the wedding is deated to be a purification moment for all of the upcoming ceremonies that follow. The priest will contain this fire in a copper bowl known as a kund and use it throughout the remainder of the wedding ceremony. Everyone will participate. However, the bride herself is not allowed to offer the rice with her bare hands to the fire. Because of this, she will be helped through this ceremony by her closest male relative or brother if she has one.
A portion of the blessing will be shared with her groom as the rice makes its way into the sacred fire. Finally, the couple will circle the fire three times together, all the while feeding the fire with rice. Depending on what region of India the couple is from, or what branch of Hinduism they practice, the bride and groom will continue to circle the fire for anywhere between four and seven times. The groom le the first circle while the bride le the final circle. Although this may seem like a drawn out ritual, each circling of the fire actually has immense ificant meaning for a Hindu wedding.
For example, during a Gujarati Mangal Phera , the four circles are directly related with dharma virtue , artha wealth , kama family , and moksha enlightenment. When the last circle is finally made, the couple will rush back to their seats to see who will get there first. Traditionally, the one who makes it back to their seat first will be the head of the household! They are now not only connected physically, but through their fate as well.
Before the ring exchange, the groom performs an extra ceremony with a special little gift for his beautiful bride. These commitments of unconditional love through times of happiness and sorrow are similar to what we see in most traditional weddings all over the world. Each step taken represents one of the seven vows and promises that they make to each other. The priest recites mantras that are specific to each one of the steps as the bride and groom walk together. Although the bride and groom may have already given simple vows of their own during the ring exchange, at this time, they will recite vows based in Hindu tradition, and between each one, they will kick a small item such as a stone or betel nut off a pile of rice.
Some couples may opt to just touch the item with their big toe as opposed to kicking it off the pile of rice. Whichever method they decide to use, this tradition is definitely a physical embodiment of the huge commitment a journey of marriage takes. Similar to traditional American weddings where the bride and groom feed each other cake, in a Hindu wedding the Kansar Bhakshan is an exchange of sweets between the bride and groom. Usually, the couple will fast on the day of their wedding, only breaking it with this tradition.
For those who practice this tradition, the Kansar Bhakshan is an exciting time indeed as they finally get to eat; and something delicious at that! Such a practice is a wonderful way for the bride and groom to share their very first meal together as a married couple. Once the priest has declared the couple as husband and wife, the newly married pair will take a bow to the crowd from the Mandap to thank everyone for attending as well as accept them as witnesses to their union.
Walking through the crowd on their way out of the wedding site, the guests will shower them with something such as flower petals or rice in order to offer their own Ashirward to the newlyweds. This ceremony is a wonderful way for the couple to celebrate their new beginning together.
The ceremony has ended, but the fun will continue! While the couple is leaving the ceremony site, just like in most traditional weddings, friends and family will gather to see the newlyweds off. This fun game usually precedes the recession and negotiations with the groom will take place for the shoes to be returned so that he can leave with his beautiful bride! A reward will usually be offered for the missing shoes and there is no doubt that much fun and laughter is had at seeing how long it will take for the shoes to show up!
When it comes to setting up the wedding day plan, traditionally the family pictures will be taken right after the ceremony before everyone makes their way to the reception area. This plan is the same for Hindu weddings and usually, the best location to capture these photos is right on the Mandap , where the bride and groom can be in the center and the family can gather around for photos to be taken.
Once the family photos have been taken and all family members have been guided to the reception area, the newlyweds can now have their own time to shine. Because Hindu weddings tend to have a lot of outfit changes between all of the different ceremonies, most likely the bride and groom will opt into an outfit change after their photos and before entering the reception area.
This outfit change may be something as simple as adding different jewelry or some more comfortable shoes, or it could be a completely new Sari and Kafni. When it comes to the reception, Hindu wedding goers hold nothing back! On average, the reception may have around people and the new couple will be in the center of it all - typically on a raised stage so everyone can see them easily.
Elaborate decorations, great music, photos, cake cutting, gifts, and more can be seen at a Hindu reception. There are a few other traditions are quite unique to the culture, such as throwing money at the couple while the dance in order to wish them prosperity. Another example of something that makes Hindu receptions unique would be the amount of professional dances and choreography that takes place during the celebration.
Not only do friends and family members put on their own shows, it is not uncommon for the couple to have hired professional dance troupes to entertain and liven up the party even further! Delicious sweet treats and cookies will round off the meal, but no one should worry about the food running out; there will most likely be something available even after the last person leaves the reception hall. Overall, there is no doubt that the cultures of a Hindu wedding are not only beautiful and lively, but also exhilarating. While the support and love for the couple during their special day can be seen across multiple cultures - there is just something about the way Indian families come together.
They celebrate the ing of new lives over the course of a week with individual celebrations like the Baraat, Mehndi and mixed social events like the wedding reception. It is special, beautiful, and an event that is not easily forgotten. Wedding Photography. Indian Weddings. Photography Coverage. Hindu Wedding: Pre-Ceremonies. Details of a Hindu Wedding.
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