Indian weddings, especially in Hindu culture, is a sacred ceremony that unites two people to start their lives together. In the Vedas (the oldest scriptures of Hinduism), a Hindu marriage is for life and is considered as a union between two families, not just the couple. In general, Hindu marriages involve rituals and pre-wedding parties, which extend over several days but differ from community to community.
Every Hindu pre-wedding ritual prepares the bride and groom, and their respective families, for their big wedding day. These traditional rituals and ceremonies last for at least four to five days until the marriage day. To name the wedding ceremony in order, some of the most important rituals and customs are Sagai or ring ceremony, Sangeet ceremony, Tilak, Mehendi, and Ganesh Puja ceremony, and each of them has its own symbolic importance in Indian weddings.
Read on to know more about pre-marriage rituals in Hinduism and the significance behind Hindu wedding traditions.
1.Sagai (Ring Ceremony)
The Sagai or the Ring ceremony is the first in the wedding ceremony order. It marks the beginning of the wedding preparations and is considered an integral part of Indian weddings. It is celebrated in the presence of a Hindu priest (pujari) as well as close family members. The ring ceremony symbolizes that both the bride and groom are a couple now and willing to embark on their life together.
Typically, the sagai takes place a few months before the Hindu wedding. For the sagai, some families ask a priest to decide the auspicious time for the wedding ceremony. Both families exchange gifts like sweets, clothes, and jewelry as a tradition.
Apart from this, the date of the wedding is decided while parents and other elderly people bless the couple.
2. Tilak (Groom Acceptance Ceremony)
In the wedding ceremony order of events, perhaps the most essential pre-wedding function is the Tilak ceremony (the application of a red paste of kumkum on the groom’s forehead). It holds a significant position among all wedding ceremony rituals and customs.
This particular Hindu wedding ceremony is performed differently across India (depending on the caste of the family). Tilak is mostly held at the groom’s residence and is usually attended by the male members of the family.
In this ceremony, the father or the brother of the bride applies tilak on the groom’s forehead. This signifies that the Hindu bride’s family has accepted him. They consider that he would be a loving husband and a responsible father in the future. It is also customary for both families to exchange gifts during the event. The tilak establishes a unique bond between both families.
‘Haldi’ or turmeric holds a special place among many Indian wedding traditions. The Haldi ceremony is usually held a couple of days prior to the wedding at the couple’s respective residences. A Haldi or turmeric paste mixed with sandalwood, milk and rose water is applied to the bride and groom’s face, neck, hands, and feet by family members.
In general, Haldi holds significance in daily life as well. It is believed that the yellow color of turmeric brightens the skin color of the couple. Its medicinal properties protect them from all kinds of ailments.
Haldi ceremony holds a great significance. Hindus also believe that turmeric’s application keeps the couple away from all ‘evil eyes.’ It alleviates their nervousness before the wedding.
4. Ganesh Puja (Worshipping Lord Ganesh)
Following the wedding ceremony order is the Puja ceremony. It is an Indian wedding tradition to worship Lord Ganesh before auspicious occasions. Ganesh Puja ceremony is mainly performed in Hindu families. It is held a day before the wedding to bless the proceedings.
This puja (prayer) is performed mainly for good luck. Lord Ganesh is believed to be the destroyer of obstacles and evils. The bride and her parents are a part of this Puja ceremony. The priest guides them to offer sweets and flowers to the deity. The ceremony prepares the couple for a new beginning. Traditional Indian weddings are incomplete without Ganesh Puja.
5. Mehndi (Henna Ceremony)
Mehendi is a fun Hindu marriage ritual of Indian weddings that are organized by the family of the Hindu bride at her house. It is attended by all family members and held a couple of days before the wedding. The hands and feet of the bride are decorated in elaborate design with a henna application.
The ritual varies from state to state in India. For instance, in a Kerala wedding, the aunt of the bride begins the ritual by drawing pretty designs on the bride’s palm before the artist takes over.
All the members of the family sing, dance, and make merry during the event. It is said that if the resulting color of the henna application is dark and beautiful, then she will be blessed with a loving husband. After the significant Mehendi ceremony, the bride must not step out of the house until her wedding.
6. Sangeet (Music & Singing Ceremony)
The Sangeet ceremony is all about music and celebration! Mostly celebrated in North India, this one’s especially important in a Punjabi wedding. Of all the Hindu wedding rituals and ceremonies, the sangeet ceremony is the most enjoyable one. Some families organize it as a separate event or even club it together with the Mehendi ceremony.
Indian wedding ceremonies are elaborate and incredibly distinctive! Going beyond decorations and celebrations, they are a union between two families. A traditional Hindu wedding ceremony order of events entails a series of elaborate rituals and wedding events. These are both enjoyable and have great significance before the big day.
A typical Hindu marriage is the coming together of two souls in the presence of God and their families. In Indian weddings, couples finally exchange vows, as they marry, and are united forever.
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Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.