India is a tapestry of diverse cultures and joyous traditions. At the very epicentre of this vibrant kaleidoscope is the big fat Indian wedding. A spellbinding spectacle of love, laughter and festivities, this unforgettable experience is a sensational fusion of customs and celebrations. In Sanskrit, we call it “Vivaha,” meaning a sacred union of two souls and the merging of two families. Grand in scale and splendour, the Indian wedding is more than just nuptials; it’s a divine overture of life and love.
For centuries, the Indian wedding has been a vibrant extravaganza, closely tied to the tradition of arranged marriages, where parents lead in choosing a perfect match for their oﬀspring. Many elements are considered to ensure a good match, including religion, caste, social status, horoscope compatibility and family values. While love may not be the initial basis for the marriage, an emotional bond is expected to develop over time as the couple gets to know each other.
Interestingly, the Indian wedding is a large canvas collaborative masterpiece for new close-knit relationships between family members, relatives, and friends. The Indian wedding is about kinship and community.
Most families believe in selecting the “Muhurat,” or an auspicious time for the ceremony. Astrologers are called in, celestial bodies are consulted, and the stars are aligned to determine the perfect date and hour for the marriage. The “Muhurat” isn’t just a convenient time; it’s a magic wand that is believed to shape the destiny of the wedding.
Threads of tradition
The wedding is time for a stunning display of traditional attire. Families start shopping for elaborate trousseaus several months in advance. Brides adorn themselves in resplendent silk sarees, intricately embroidered designer lehengas, and opulent gold jewellery. Grooms don traditional outfits like sherwanis or suits accentuated with turbans, swords, or brooches. From jewel tones like reds to soft pastels, each outfit is a work of art. Often, the trousseau includes family heirlooms like Banarasi and Kanjeevaram silk sarees, exquisite pashmina shawls and vintage jewellery. History and sentiment link families across time.
The wedding is a dazzling spectacle spread over five to seven days. While there are regional variations, the event mostly starts with pre-wedding rituals like the “Haldi” ceremony (applying skin-purifying turmeric paste) and “Mehndi (henna). In an elaborate “Sangeet” ceremony, family and friends celebrate through song and dance. Dholak beats, traditional folk music, and infectious melodies of Bollywood tunes fill the air as everyone joins the festivities. On the wedding day, the couple takes “Saat Pheras” (seven rounds with seven vows) around the holy fire, guided by the family priest, pledging to be life partners. The “Mangalsutra,” a sacred necklace, and the
“Sindoor” (vermillion powder) on the bride’s forehead are essential elements of the ceremony. In a poignant “Kanyadaan” ritual, the father gives away his daughter to the groom. After an emotional “Vidaai” (farewell), the bride is welcomed at her new home with a “Grihpravesh” ritual, which is followed by a series of ice-breaker games with the groom.
In the grand tapestry of India’s heritage, the wedding is unique in every way. From exquisite attire and large gatherings to lively music to meaningful rituals, it is an unforgettable, deeply immersive experience. Have you witnessed an Indian wedding yet?