Father Of The Bride 2 How Old Are The Parents Wedding Customs Around the World – North and South Indian Weddings

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Wedding Customs Around the World – North and South Indian Weddings

Indian weddings are easily among the most colorful, elaborate and vibrant in the world. Unlike the West, where the bride and the groom are the prominent characters, in an Indian wedding, it is the immediate and extended families on both sides who are the star players! Marriage is a social affair, and heralds the union not only of the couple but also of their families. So, it should not come as a surprise that most of the young people comply with their family’s wishes even today and enter into arranged marriages.

A typical Indian wedding consists of three broad segments – the pre-wedding ceremonies (which are almost as elaborate as the actual wedding itself), the wedding and some post-wedding rituals.

India is a vast and diverse country, with the North, South, East and West each having their own distinctive languages, cuisine, customs and traditions and wedding rituals.

North Indian weddings

A traditional North Indian wedding takes place at the home of the bride and groom. North Indian weddings are characterized by several pre-wedding and post-wedding ceremonies. The most important pre-wedding ritual is that of the Mangni or Sagai (betrothal ceremony). The boy and the girl exchange rings in the presence of a religious priest and family and close friends.

On the actual day of the wedding, the boy’s family leaves for the girls’ house in the evening amid much cheering, dancing and general merriment. The groom mounts a brightly decorated horse, usually with the youngest boy of the family sitting in front with him. He is preceded by a crowd of his male and female relatives, and friends, dressed in all their finery and accompanied by a musical band. His face is covered with a curtain of flowers (the sehra that is tied by his sister). The noisy, procession, with the band singing the tunes of the latest Bollywood chartbusters, makes its quiet way past residential houses, busy streets before finally arriving at the girl’s house.

The groom and his family are warmly received by the girl’s family, new members greet each other by exchanging flower garlands.

Finally, the groom and the bride, seated on a dais, rise to exchange garlands in the Jaimala ceremony – one of the most important of North Indian wedding traditions – amid much good-natured cheering.

The next part is the most symbolic – the Saat Pheras (or the seven steps) that the couple take around the ceremonial fire. This usually happens very late – usually after 12 midnight – long after the guests have feasted and left and only the very close relatives on both sides remain. Both of them circle the frightened fire, making vows to love and honor each other for the rest of their lives. The groom then applies a stripe of vermilion to the bride’s head, after which they become legally married.

The bride then receives a tearful send-off from her family as she leaves with her new husband to start a brand new life.

South Indian weddings

The biggest difference between North Indian and South Indian weddings is that the latter takes place during the day instead of at night. The basis for the rituals is the same except that they are performed in a different way.

The wedding venue is usually a hall where the wedding mandap (small covered enclosure) has plantains tied to both the gate posts, overhead festoons made of mango leaves strung together, and Rangoli designs (intricate designs made with colored powder) at the entrance.

The evening before the actual wedding day, the groom is led in a flower-decorated procession from a temple by the bride’s parents to the wedding Mandapam (hall). Once there, the formal wedding ceremony takes place. The elephant-headed god Ganapati, the God of Initiation, is invoked, and is asked to keep away all obstacles away from the couple.

The ritual is followed by presenting clothes to the couple. Interestingly, the wedding ceremonies are performed separately by the couple.

The wedding ceremony is formalized in the hall by a Vedic priest who sings ancient hymns and verses, remembering the names of three generations of ancestors of both, the bride and the groom first of all who gathered to witness the marriage. The bride and the groom exchange garlands as they are hoisted onto the shoulders of their respective uncles.

The bride then sits on her father’s lap for the “Kanyadan” (giving away the daughter) ceremony to the groom. The bride is presented with a Mangalsutra (the dreaded necklace that signifies her married status) as well as a new saree that is draped around her by the groom’s sister.

After that, the groom walks seven steps with his bride, holding her hand in his. The seven steps are the most important part of the wedding ceremony.

The wedding is followed by an elaborate and delicious wedding feast, usually vegetarian.

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