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Indian weddings are among the most massive and lavish events on the planet, and they can take place over several days with multiple rituals involving plenty of food, drink, song, and dance, and above all people. It is not unknown for an Indian wedding to be attended by as many as 700 people, and sometimes even more. Just about everyone who is anyone is invited to take part. As a result, an Indian wedding is an expensive time, and it is not uncommon for parents to open a savings account upon the birth of a daughter in order to prepare for this event some 20 or more years ahead.

A typical Indian wedding starts with the Haldi, and during this ceremony a turmeric paste is applied to the face, neck, arms, hands, knees, and feet of the couple by family members, and they offer blessings and songs to the couple. The haldi is the paste itself and is thought to bring good luck and make the skin glow, because it has healing and purification powers.

Party Time For The Girls

The next ceremony is the Mehndi, and this is really party time for the girls. The Mehndi is a type of body art that is applied to the hands, arms, legs, and feet of the bride in intricate patterns. The Mehndi is made up of the leaves of the henna plant and turned into a paste. It requires a skilled artist to apply the decorations, and he or she will often include the name of the groom somewhere within the patterns, so that everyone can have fun trying to find it.

Doing all this takes some considerable time, so while the bride is sitting or lying on her Mehndi stage, the rest of the guests are partying, drinking, and eating traditional Indian foods, while there is also a lot of singing and dancing. The Mehndi ceremony goes back at least 4,000 years, and it is said that the darker the henna colour, the deeper the relationship between bride and groom will be, so the bride is encouraged to relax while the pigments set.

The next event is the Sangeet, and in a typical Indian wedding this will take place on a Friday with the wedding ceremony itself on the Saturday. This can be hard to believe because the Sangeet on its’ own is a huge party complete with more food and drink and singing and dancing, and the family members of the bride and groom will perform highly choreographed dances to wish the couple well in their new life together. Some of the dances are Raas-Garba which are playful and energetic Gujarati folk dances that everyone can join in.

The next day is the actual wedding day, and here the bride and groom meet under the Mandap which is a stunningly decorated canopy where the ceremony takes place. The bride will wear a beautiful sari which is often red, and the groom arrives on a decorated horse or even an elephant, although these days he may arrive sitting on top of a convertible. There are several rituals which take place under the Mandap, and when these are all completed, the bride and groom are man and wife. After this, it is party time once again, and the singing and dancing and food goes on into the night.

All of these ceremonies are conducted with splendid wedding decorations at each step. Colourful flowing draperies are everywhere, as are flowers. Lighting is set up to highlight particular areas of the hall or dancefloor, and a lot of thought has to go into the overall presentation, so that it is a day that everyone attending will remember for years to come.

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