If you have never been to an Indian wedding and you are invited to one, you may be in for a surprise. In fact, it would be fair to say that you will be in for a surprise. An Indian wedding is quite simply one of the most lavish (and often very expensive) affairs that you will ever see. In fact, it can be so expensive that many couples will open a savings account upon the birth of a daughter in order to have sufficient funds to pay for her wedding 20 years or more later.
It is not unusual for an Indian wedding to have guests in the hundreds, because not only are close family and friends invited, but also virtually every relation, including distant cousins who may never have met the bride or the groom. Furthermore, at most Indian weddings there is no expense spared in order to make the big day one that every person attending will remember for years to come. In some instances, it is almost a competition to see if the parents can make the day a bigger one than the last family wedding that took place!
The happy couple are king and queen for the day and are treated as royalty would be. And it is not just the wedding day, either. Indian weddings typically begin several days earlier with the Haldi which is a ceremony during which the couple have haldi – which is a yellow paste made from turmeric – applied to their face, neck, arms, hands, knees, and feet by members of their families who sing songs and offer them blessings. The haldi is thought to provide healing and beautification properties, and the paste makes the skin glow and is believed to bring good luck.
That’s Just The Beginning
But that is just the start. The next event is part ceremony and part party time for the girls. Or at least it used to be just for the girls, but these days, the groom and other family members also often attend. It is called the Mehndi and is a ceremony where the hands and arms and feet of the bride are painted with intricate patterns using henna paste which is derived from the henna plant and is applied by a skilled artist.
Creating these designs can take quite a time, and in the Mehndi the bride sits on a luxurious couch or seating on a Mehndi stage which we can design and provide for you at Kenza Creations. The process can take several hours, so the stage is decorated with beautiful materials and flowers and is in some ways similar to the wedding stage, except that it is just for the bride.
It is believed that the darker the henna appears on the skin, the deeper the relationship between bride and groom will be, which is why the bride has to sit there as the henna dries on the skin. Meanwhile, the girls party on, with singing and dancing, food and drink, while the bride has to stay on the seating.
One fun aspect of the Mehndi is that the artist will often include the name of the bridegroom hidden within the intricate designs, and everybody has fun trying to find it.
The next party is the Sangeet which is usually on the Friday before the wedding on the Saturday, and it is a full-fledged affair with great décor, and – as you might guess – more singing and dancing and eating and drinking, even though it is all going to happen again tomorrow! During the Sangeet, there is the Raas-Garba which are a series of energetic and fun Gujarati dances in which everyone can participate to wish the bride and groom well in their life together.
Then, of course, comes the wedding itself, and this is yet another very big ceremony where the bride joins her groom under the Mandap which has an Indian wedding backdrop, and is a beautifully decorated canopy supported by four posts which are usually covered in flowers and other decorations, and where there is seating for the bride and groom, the pandit, and the bride’s mother and father. This is the solemn part of the ceremony which culminates in the pair becoming husband and wife.