Weddings - Different Cultures and Traditions Followed Across India

In a traditional Hindu wedding, the groom and bride are the stars of the show! The rituals begin with the engagement ceremony and end with the Vidai. Scroll down to read all about Hindu wedding rituals step by step in English. We have compiled an extensive list of Hindu pre wedding rituals step by step, along with post marriage rituals. In addition, there are certain Indian culture marriage rules which you will learn throughout this article. Most 5 day Indian wedding ceremonies include a ton of people, who come together to celebrate love, joy, and happiness.

Pre-Wedding Ceremonies

The following Hindu marriage functions list of groom and bridal ceremony will help you gain knowledge about pre wedding rituals in India. These wedding ceremony rituals are followed and celebrated across India amongst different Hindu cultures. Read on to know more about Hindu marriage rituals!

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Engagement Ceremony- In customary Indian wedding traditions, the engagement ceremony is the first ceremony of a long list of events. In this ceremony, the couple's families get together in the presence of a priest who matches the horoscope of the bride and groom. Following this, the families of the couple share gifts, also known as shagun. The bride is also presented with gold jewellery, fruits, sweets, dry fruits, and sarees by her to be in-laws. At the end of the engagement ceremony, an auspicious date is fixed for the wedding. In some customs and cultures, the couple's families prepare for the Lagna Patrika or the wedding letter. This Lagna Patrika is the official or formal declaration of the wedding date. According to some traditions, the groom's father asks the bride's father for her hand in marriage with his son. If the bride's father agrees to this proposal, the two parents mutually agree amongst themselves and make a promise for the marriage known as Wagdaan.

Although in some cultures, the engagement ceremony takes place months prior to the wedding day, in some other cultures, the engagement ritual happens a day or two before the wedding day.

Punjabi weddings usually celebrate the engagement function after the Roka ceremony. Various names are given to the engagement ceremony in various parts of India. In the northern region of India, the engagement ceremony is called Mangni or Sagai. In the southern parts, it is called Nischayam in Telugu and Malayali cultures and Nischitartham in Tamil weddings. In Maharashtrian weddings, it is called SakharPuda; in Bengali culture, it is known as Ashirbaad; in Punjabi marriage events, it is called Kurmai or Shagan, Gujaratis refer to it as Gor Dhana, and in Marwari and Rajput cultures it is called Mudha Tika and Tilak respectively. Some states like Assam do not have designated engagement functions but are now a recent addition to the wedding ceremonies.

Ganesh Puja- Lord Ganesh or Vighnaharta, who removes all obstacles, is offered prayers and sweets in both the bride and groom's houses. Lord Ganesh is requested to remove barriers and bless the wedding. While in some traditions, the puja is held a day before the marriage with close family in attendance, in some cultures, the Ganesh puja is performed over the mandap by the priest on the wedding day. Lord Ganesh is invoked by everyone, namely the guests and the couple's families, who request him to bless the marriage and save the couple from the evil eye.

Various items are presented to Lord Ganesh during the puja. An offering of 21 modaks, his favourite sweet, is made, besides coconuts, flowers like hibiscus, betel nuts, sindoor, and incense.

Haldi Ceremony- One of the most fun ceremonies for the couple and the wedding attendees, the Haldi ceremony is celebrated a day or two before the wedding day. In this Indian marriage function, the couple is applied with a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, curd, and rosewater which is believed to give glowing skin to the bride and groom! Haldi or turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, healing powers and beneficial components.

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The Haldi ceremony of groom and bridal function holds immense significance in Indian weddings and is honoured throughout different cultures. In North Indian weddings of Indian marriage culture, the Haldi ceremony is known as Ubtan; in Maharashtrian weddings, it is known as Halad Chadavne. Jain weddings have Tel Baan as their Haldi function, Pelikuthuru in Tamil weddings, and Pithi in the weddings of Gujaratis.

According to Hindu traditions or Indian marriage rituals, the colour yellow is considered auspicious; thus, everyone is seen to wear yellow clothes in the Haldi ceremony of an Indian wedding. Indian Vedas and traditions are highly important to Haldi and extremely beneficial. The smearing of the Haldi on the bride and groom is believed to not just benefit their skin and give them a much-needed glow but is also believed to keep Nazar or the evil eye at bay. It is also written in the Vedas that Haldi cleanses the body, mind, and soul; and purifies the bride and groom for their holy matrimony. This Hindu marriage ceremony is a special part of any wedding function.

Traditionally, the Haldi ceremony is celebrated with folk songs and dancing at both the couple's houses. Friends and family members of the bride and groom smear Haldi paste on the couple and engage in fun antics. Finally, the day ends with an auspicious bath for the bride and groom, and the couple's skin is now wedding ready!

Sangeet Ceremony- In the Sangeet function, the wedding attendees sing songs, dance and eat good food and sweets! This ceremony is an event filled with love, joy and excitement. This ceremony is a fun-filled ritual where the families spend time together, get to know each other, and connect.

In earlier times, the Sangeet ceremony would be celebrated by playing the dholak and flute, singing traditional songs, and dancing to customary music. Nowadays, although some things have changed, the ritual of Sangeet has stayed the same more or so. These days people refer to event planners to plan this ritual and hire DJs, choreographers, music bands, and wedding management agencies to provide a seamless experience.

Mandap- The mandap or wedding altar is where all the rituals occur to facilitate the marriage. Wedding mandaps are considered the centre of focus and are believed to be sacred spaces. A holy fire is lit on the mandap around which the couple take their pheras or rounds, take their vows for a happy marriage, and exchange flower garlands. These are the Saptapadi ceremony and the Jaimala or Varmala.

Every Hindi ritual has some significance according to Vedic traditions; thus, the mandap is also a crucial part of any wedding.

The four pillars of an Indian wedding are symbolic of the four stages of life, in accordance with the Vedas. The four stages are Brahmacharya or student, Grihastha or Householder, Vanaprastha or Retired, and Sannyasa or Renunciate. Besides this, as per the Vedas, the holy fire or Agni at the centre of the mandap is the witness to the marriage and is known to purify the wedding and marriage.

In the north part of India, the wedding altar is called the mandap, and in the southern regions of India, it is known as Manavarai. This mandap or manavarai has pillars made using wood, bamboo, sugarcane, or young stems of banana trees. The top of the altar is covered with a red or golden canopy, and stacks of brightly decorated earthen pots are placed near each pillar. These pots are called Chori and are symbolic of elements of nature, namely-Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, besides the fifth element- Space. The entirety of the stage is decorated using garlands of banana leaves, marigolds, pots of water, and statues of gods are also present there.

Wedding Ceremonies

Jaimala- The Jaimala or exchange of garlands is a tradition which is a beautiful sight to behold. The couple put garlands around each other's necks amidst some fun antics. It is a sign of acceptance of each other between the bride and groom and marks the first ritual of union between the couple.

Flowers like jasmine, marigold, roses, carnations, and orchids, are commonly used to make garlands for the Jaimala or Varmala. These flowers are symbolic of happiness, beauty, excitement and enthusiasm. In addition, this custom represents the existence of love, commitment, and acceptance between the two individuals.

Kanyadaan- This ceremony is one of the emotional functions that happen at a wedding. The bride's father officially instates his daughter as the groom's responsibility and places her hand over the groom's in return for his promise and assurance to always take care of her and love her. In Hindu traditions, Kanyadaan or donation of the daughter or girl, is considered to be the highest form of donation a father can make in his lifetime. It represents the exemplary relationship shared between a father and his daughter and is a tear-jerking ceremony.

The Kanyadaan ceremony happens just after the Jaimal. During the ceremony, the bride's father places her hand on the groom's hand, and their hands are tied together with the sacred thread while betel nuts, flowers, and betel leaves are placed on their joined hands.

The bride is the representative of Goddess Laxmi, and the groom represents Lord Vishnu, her consort.

The custom of Kanyadaan can also be seen in other religions like Christianity and Jewish, where the bride's father walks her to the altar and gives her away to the groom.

Saptapadi Ceremony- The Saptapadi ceremony is a tradition where the couple takes seven rounds around the auspicious fire and promises to love, cherish, and respect each other in the face of all adversities. This custom is overlooked by a priest who chants holy mantras to bless the special union of the bride and groom. This custom represents the seven vows the couple takes for each other. Saptapadi translates to 'seven steps' or 'saat phere'. The seven vows are adapted and adopted from the ancient Hindu scriptures and are considered an important and sacred part of the wedding. After the Kanyadaan ceremony, the groom's sister ties the loose ends of the couple's attire to each other, along with betel nuts, coins, and rice. This knot is taken from the Granthi Bandhanam ritual and is representative of the eternal bond of marriage between the bride and groom.

  • The first vow is for good health, prosperity, and accepting responsibilities and cultural traditions.
  • The second vow promises to work towards a happier self-existence with each other.
  • The third vow is to always remember wealth's importance and earn it honestly.
  • The fourth vow is about mutual understanding, respect, trust, love, care, and cherishing each other and their respective families.
  • The fifth promise is to seek blessings for future children and healthy, fertile life.
  • The sixth vow is for a healthy and long life.
  • The final vow, or the seventh vow, is a promise of commitment and honesty towards each other.

Vidaai- The Vidaai ceremony is the end of the wedding traditions. In this wedding ceremony, the bride bids farewell to her family, friends and loved ones to leave for her new home. She is accompanied by her loved ones to the exit of the wedding venue, and her parents request the groom to take care of her. Before crossing the doorstep, she walks in front and throws uncooked rice and coins behind her toward her parents, while everyone is seen to shed tears. This act is supposed to be symbolic of her repayment and gratitude to her parents for giving her a happy life. This tearful tradition ends the day, and the bride leaves for her marital home.

Post-Wedding Rituals

The following marriage ceremony rituals under Indian marriage culture are popular amongst all Hindu traditions. In addition, there may be variations from one community to another, but the essence stays the same throughout.

Griha Pravesh- The Griha Pravesh ceremony is when the bride is welcomed to her new home by her mother-in-law, who performs aarti and puts a tilak on the forehead of the couple. First, she is made to overturn a Kalash or vessel of uncooked rice with her right foot that is kept at the entrance of her marital home; then, she enters the house's threshold with her right foot first. While most Indian states and cultures follow just the rice ritual, in some other parts and cultures of India, like West Bengal and Bengali weddings, the bride dips her feet in a plate of Alta water or water mixed with vermillion powder. Then she walks into the house, following which she is presented with the traditional red and ivory bangles called Shakha Pola alongside a metal bangle called Loha. The ritual of Griha Pravesh symbolises the belief that the newlywed bride is Goddess Laxmi, who has come to bless the family.

The overturning of the rice Kalash symbolises the bride letting in prosperity, good fortune, wealth, and good luck within the household.

Mooh Dikhai- The Mooh Dikhai ceremony is where the bride is introduced to all the relatives and family members. Female house members lift the bride's veil, and her face is shown to everyone for the first time after the wedding. The bride is then offered gifts such as jewellery, a holy book, new clothes, money, or things which will be useful to her in her marriage. She is presented with gifts for showing her face, thus welcoming her to the family.

This ritual is crucial to make the bride feel welcome to the family and to make her feel loved.

Suhaag Raat- The Suhaag Raat is the first night the couple spends together as husband and wife. Their room is decorated with flowers, and the newlywed bride carries a warm glass of turmeric milk or Haldi Doodh for herself and her husband. Then, the bride, keeping a veil over her face, is taken to the room by the female members of the family and her Ghunghat or veil is lifted by her husband. The lifting of the veil is also known as Mooh Dikhai, and after this, the bride and groom share a glass of milk with each other.

This glass of milk is considered an aphrodisiac and is believed to enhance the energies of both individuals.

Wedding Reception- After the wedding, a grand function is organised by both the bride and groom's families to celebrate their marriage. An array of cuisines are made for the guests, and everyone is seen to enjoy to their heart's content!

Frequently Asked Questions

Lord Ganesha, also known as Vighnaharta or Destroyer of Obstacles, is invoked before any special occasion to ensure that the ceremonies go smoothly and do not face any challenges. By offering prayers to Lord Ganesha, any event can go smoothly without hassle. Moreover, it is customary to ask Him to bless the couple's ceremonies and holy union.
The engagement ceremony or Roka marks the beginning of a long list of wedding ceremonies. In this function, the couples' families mutually agree on their union and decide on an auspicious date for the wedding, often in the presence of a priest. In this ceremony, an astrologer matches the Kundalis of the couple.
Traditional Hindu Dharma texts classify marriages into eight forms: Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paishacha. The order of the forms of marriages is hierarchical, with Brahma as the highest in order. Brahma, Daiva, Arsha and Prajapatya have approved forms of marriage, while the rest are unacceptable.
A traditional Indian wedding ceremony starts with the Engagement ceremony. This Hindu marriage ceremony sees mutual agreement and understanding between the families of the bride and groom.
In wedding events, a Manda Puja is performed to pay homage to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This ceremony is usually celebrated at the bride’s house and is considered as a pre wedding Indian bride ceremony.
Some post Indian wedding rituals include Griha Pravesh, and the grand wedding reception.
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