An Indian (Pakistani & Hindu) wedding is perhaps the most colourful of all the world’s wedding celebrations, and if you’re lucky enough to be invited to one, you can look forward to bright décor, energy-packed dances, and great food. Behind the aesthetic, Indian weddings include many traditional and symbolic customs that aim to send the newlyweds off into a prosperous and fulfilling new life together.
Traditionally, an Indian wedding will be celebrated over three days. On the first day is the Ganesh Puja, which kicks off the celebrations with a prayer to Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. The Ganesh Puja takes place at home with the couple and their closest friends and relatives.
Day two consists of Pithi, followed by a Mehendi ceremony, and ending with Sangeet. The Pithi ceremony traditionally takes place separately in both members of the couples’ family homes. This ceremony bestows good luck on the couple. Relatives make a paste out of turmeric, rose water, and chickpea flour, which is then spread on the couple’s skin for brightness and blessings.
During the Mehendi ceremony, the bride and her female relatives apply henna to their skin. The designs are symbolic of joy, beauty, spirituality and offering. The artist also hides the bride and groom’s names within the design for the couple to find after the ceremony.
To close the second day of celebrations, the families of the couple will throw a Sangeet, celebrating the evening before the official wedding ceremony. This is where friends and family will perform skits and dances, allowing all guests to mingle in a fun and informal setting.
On the third and final day of the wedding ceremony, the groom traditionally arrives on a white horse, a procession known as Baarat. The bride will then arrive and join the groom at the Mandap—the altar—where a sacred flame burns. This fire acts as a witness, and the bride’s brother will give her three fistfuls of puffed rice, which she will then offer to the sacred fire. The couple goes on to exchange jai mala—flower garlands—which symbolise the partners becoming a part of each other’s families. The couple’s garments are then tied together, and they make either seven steps or seven circles around the ceremonial fire, before racing each other back to their seats. To signify that the bride is married, red powder known as Sindoor is applied to her hair. Once all ceremonies are performed, the reception party begins. Similar to Western weddings, Indian weddings end with a delicious buffet, great music, and of course, a dance floor.
Indian weddings are colourful, fun, and steeped in beautiful traditions. Whether you are a member of the couple, or one of the guests, it will be a celebration you will never forget.
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