UNIQUE WEDDING CUSTOMS & SUPERSTITIONS IN INDIA
By: Shyamli Thakur
Wedding ceremony marks a beautiful union of two people, ready to make the commitment of sharing joys and sorrows for eternity.
From making vows to supporting one another to understanding each other to being best friends, a wedding ceremony is the beginning of a promising venture for the couples ‘till death do them apart’.
In India, weddings have numerous sacred ceremonies that are adhered by the families of bride and groom.
The purpose is to establish a physical, spiritual and emotional union of the to-be-newlyweds.
I’ve master-crafted a list of unique wedding customs and superstitions in India to familiarise you with some traditional practices.
Decide the ‘Muharat’
In Indian culture, a highly-learned priest is consulted for ‘muharat’ (auspicious date and time) that’d be perfect for the celestial union of the to-be-newlyweds.
The date is fixed after the priest carefully refers to the Hindu astrological calendar. This is an age-old custom to avoid any obstacle before and after the ceremony.
Bride with a knife
Sounds very Halloween-y, doesn’t it? In north India, it is customary for the to-be-bride to keep a well-polished and sharp knife in her possession after the engagement.
The natives opine that keeping the knife with her till her wedding day keeps evil spirits at bay.
The logical reasoning of this custom is that the knife will protect the bride’s virtues from the world.
Sing and dance in Sangeet – Indian Wedding Tradition
Sangeet is the most entertaining traditions of an Indian wedding when the relatives groove to the Bollywood-style dance numbers.
Also, there’s a friendly dance competition between the groom’s and bride’s family members to add on to the fun.
Henna-tattooed in Mehendi
Mehendi is a well-cherished Indian custom that’s exclusive to the females.
In this ceremony bride’s arms are beautifully adorned with henna paste.
It’s a prevalent legend that the darker the color of henna more is the love between the couple.
Make sure to try all the techniques you know to darken the henna. After all, it ensures the greater parameter of love.
Perfect glow after Haldi
As per Indian belief, applying haldi (Turmeric paste) on bride and groom kills two birds with a stone.
Firstly, it soothes their skin and gives enviable-wedding glow because of turmeric’s healing properties.
Also, this centuries-old tradition is thought to ward off evil from the couple’s journey to a happy married life.
Pious ‘Ghara Ghoroli’ & the lucky black cat
In this extraordinary ritual of ‘ghara ghoroli,’ a group of women dance delightfully with empty pitchers on their head. They are headed towards a nearby temple.
Once inside the temple, they fill the earthen pots with holy water. The couple are to take a bath in the holy water on the wedding day.
And as per Indian belief, if you happen to see a black cat on the day, it’s considered a very good omen!
Wedding Customs in India: ‘Mandap’ set-up
‘Mandap’ is a beautiful four-pillared canopy that accentuates the wedding ambiance at the venue.
It also holds an important significance as the four pillars represent the parents of the bride and the groom.
Also, if it starts to pour the decorative canopy won’t let the holy fire be put out.
While rainfall is considered a blessing of wealth and fertility, the holy fire can’t be extinguished until the couples circle around the ceremonial flame for seven times.
Perfect Bridal attire
Every bride dreams of wearing the most gorgeous wedding dress on her special day. Some even tap into their creative side to design their own bridal outfit.
However, in India, it’s considered unlucky if a bride-to-be fashions her wedding dress. To do so may attract misfortunes.
Another custom connected to the bridal wear preaches that generosity can land you in trouble, at times!
Due to the sky-high cost of the wedding outfit, it’d be a wise choice to borrow and lend the dress, isn’t it?
Not in India! Why you may ask?
An old-wives’ tale states the answer: The borrower will get showered with happiness and good fortunes. The lender will end up inviting troubles that’ll make her life miserable.
Get rich at ‘Joota Chupai’
‘Joota Chupai’ translates to ‘hide the footwear’ and is a prank played on the groom by the bride’s sisters. While the groom is busy taking the vows, the bride’s sisters smartly hide the groom’s footwear.
In order to get the shoes back, the groom has to pay the money demanded by the sisters.
The obligatory ‘Kaleerein’ fall
This typical Indian wedding tradition shares the same aim as that of tossing the wedding bouquet in the western countries.
‘Kaleerein’ is a traditional Indian golden and red ornament that’s attached to the bangles of the bride.
After the wedding, the bride stands on a raised platform facing a bunch of unmarried girls.
The bride then moves her hands until the ‘kaleerein’ gets parted from her bangles and falls on one of the single ladies.
The Indian belief states that the girl on whom the ‘kaleerein’ lands, is the next in the queue to get married.
Who’s the boss?
This entertaining tradition is supposed to determine who will be the dominant figure between the couple? How you may wonder?
The answer: A ring is dropped in a large vessel that’s filled with milk and flowers to its brim.
The couple competes against each other to find the ring first to win the crown of the ‘dominant partner’.
Giving the daughter away in Kanyadan
Kanyadan i.e., giving the bride away is a super-integral ritual. This because Indians believe that ‘no man can claim a woman until she is offered’. In this ceremony, the bride’s father places his beloved daughter’s hands into the groom’s as a gesture of an offering.
This also marks the completion of the Indian wedding ceremony.
These deep-rooted wedding customs and superstitions in India have been followed by the natives for as long as they can remember.
While many don’t have a logical explanation, they are entertaining and bring the families, relatives, and friends closer together.
By: Shyamli Thakur – also by Shyamli Thakur: Superstitions in India