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Indian Weddings

The day that you get married should be a day that you remember for the rest of your life.

From the hymns and verses about marriage in the Vedas, we learn that mature individuals were considered ready for marriage after puberty. In subsequent times however, brides were married even in childhood, perhaps due to a series of foreign invasions in North India. In an attempt to provide security their women from the invaders, early marriages became the norm. According to the scriptures of Manu, divorce and remarriage were not permitted. Most references to marriage in the ancient texts suggest that the Aryans were monogamous. However, some references to polygamy and polyandry have been found in the Hindu epic of Mahabharata. In medieval India, the marriage was compulsory for all the girls except for those opted asceticism. Brahmin girls were married between ages eight and ten from sixth or century onwards up to the modern times. Polygamy was permitted to all who could afford, and it was especially popular among Kshatriyas for political reasons. According to the Manasollasa, the king should marry a Kshatria girl of noble birth for a chief queen though he is permitted to have Vaishya or Shudra wives for pleasure. Today, in India both divorce and remarriage are completely legal, whereas polygamy and polyandry are both criminal offences for Hindus, punishable by law. The Islamic personal law of Sheriat allows up to four wives for a man, and it is legal for a Muslim to have multiple wives in India.

Wedding Varieties

The customs during the wedding ceremony in India are varied and reflect the vast diversity of cultures of the land. The cultures have influenced each other with mutual borrowing of practices. A day before the wedding, the bride and her friends and female relatives gather for the ceremony of Mehendi, in which their palms and feet are decorated with henna. The bride is teased with music and dance, by the other women about her future husband and in-laws An wedding altar or mandapa is erected at the marriage venue on the day of the wedding, within which the ceremony is conducted. The poles of the frame are draped with strings of flowers. On the wedding morning, various rituals are performed on both the bride and the groom in their own homes. Their bodies are anointed with turmeric, sandalwood paste and oils, which cleanse the body, soften the skin, and make it aromatic. They are then bathed to the chanting of Vedic mantras. Today this is done symbolically, if at all, with a token application of turmeric, sandal wood, and oil on the face and arms, before the bath. The bride now wears all her finery, helped by her womenfolk. In the north and east, the ritual of putting Sindhoor, or vermilion powder, in the parting of the bride's hair is performed by the groom.. The husband dips his ring in vermilion powder and traces a line from the center of his wife's hairline to the crown of her head. Brahmin grooms who have not undergone the Upanayana ritual are given a symbolic initiation. Some warrior communities like the Kodavas involve sword wielding rituals in the ceremony. The gathering showers the bride and groom with flower petals ,While the Western societies glamorized and commercialized the flowers, it is only the Indians who have blended their lives with flowers.) and the couple come out of the mandapa. They touch the feet of their elders to receive blessings and are greeted by everyone present. The bride now leaves for her new home, bidding a tearful farewell to her own family. She now belongs to another family and no longer to her parents, for she has been ritually given away. They proceed homewards dancing and singing. When the bride arrives at her new home, an arati is performed for her by her mother-in-law and she is ceremonially ushered into the house. She takes care to enter, auspicious right foot first, gently kicking over a strategically placed measure of paddy as an augury of plenty for her new family. In today's India, the couple then leaves for their honeymoon.


Weddings Attire

In different parts of India, brides wear different kinds of clothes, ornaments, and adornments. The bride's clothes are usually typical of the area. A Rajasthani bride would wear a lehenga, a Punjabi bride would wear a salwar-kameez, and a Maharashtrian bride would wear a nine-yard saree. Most brides wear saris nowadays, usually in shades of red, pink or mustard. A bride sports as much traditional jewelry as her family can muster, for today, she is Goddess Lakshmi incarnate, harbinger of prosperity to her new home. Like her clothes, the bride's ornaments also differ according to local tradition. However, necklaces, earrings, bangles, rings, a nose-ring, anklets, and toe-rings are worn by most brides. Ornaments like armlets, tikas, hathaphula, and waistbands, traditionally important, are optional today and not worn in all areas. Traditionally, the bride was adorned with natural beauty aids. For example, a paste of henna was put over her nails, which stained them red. Her eyes were lined with kajal and scented water was sprinkled on her. Today, however, most brides, both in the urban and rural areas, use branded cosmetics and perfumes. In south India, flowers were, and remain, an important adornment, while the north is now beginning to rediscover this pretty custom. Most grooms in the north wear a shervani with a churidar pyjama, a bandha-gala suit, or a western-style suit. Turbans are also very popular, for the groom and the important members of his entourage. In the South, grooms either wear the traditional veshti (dhoti) and jubba (kurta) or a three-piece suit. North Indian grooms set forth to their weddings adorned with a sehera, a veil of flowers tied to the turban, to screen their faces from the evil eye (scarecrow).

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