South Asian Wedding Traditions
Love and celebration are certainly in the air at any South Asian wedding. At these weddings, nothing is more important than celebrating joyful and meaningful traditions with family and friends. Marriage is a happy and wondrous experience that every South Asian wedding cherishes every moment of. A few days before the wedding the bride and her female family members and friends will get together for a mehndi. This is where the bride has henna, a temporary tattoo, applied to her hands and feet in floral and paisley patterns. The darker the henna applied, the stronger the marriage. Henna is absolutely beautiful, the graceful and intricate designs are sheer perfection. The bride is truly transformed into a work of art.
A mehndi isn’t the only festivity on the itinerary, the sangeet isn’t too far behind! This is when both sides of the family get together to celebrate the upcoming marriage of the happy couple. A sangeet is usually held the day before the wedding and is one fun and jubilant night. Family and friends play music, sing and dance to honor the bride and groom’s soon–to–be union.
What’s known as a garba may also be a part of the sangeet or a separate event. A garba is a specific dance that is traditionally performed around a lit lamp that is in the center of the room. The happy couple join family and friends to joyfully dance in a circle with beautiful wooden sticks while dressed in colorful celebratory clothing.
The next morning is officially the big day and it’s time for the bride and groom to get ready. Unlike the common western tradition of wearing white, a South Asian bride will wear a vibrantly colorful sari. The sari is draped around her body and is adorned with gold to symbolize her commitment. In addition, kumkuma, a powder, is applied to the bride’s forehead to represent good fortune. The groom, on the other hand, wears a turban. A lengthy cotton garment that is wrapped around his head. He also wears a sherwani, similar to the usual western suit but with much more embellishments and colors.
The groom is then led to the wedding ceremony location in a succession known as the baraat. If he’s really going to follow tradition he will be riding a white horse that is adorned with beautiful accessories. He’ll be accompanied by family, groomsmen and friends as he makes his way to his stunning bride.
During the ceremony, the groom waits for the bride to be walked down the aisle by her father and mother. The groom will be standing with his parents underneath what is called the mandap and is where the holy ceremony will take place. The mandap is a covered structure with four pillars. Each pillar is meant to signify the love, support and blessing from the parents to the future newlyweds. The amount of decoration ideas for a mandap are endless! It can be decorated with flowers, drapery, lights and so much more. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to mandap decor.
Before the sacred ceremony officially begins, the bride and groom partake in what is called the varmala. The varmala acts as the commencement of the ceremony and is a representation of the bride and groom embracing their upcoming union.
They each place beautiful necklace garlands around each other’s necks to demonstrate this. This may not be a common western tradition but it certainly is lovely and quite romantic. After the ceremony is complete, the bride and groom can celebrate their union at the reception. Family and friends gather to eat, drink and dance to provide their blessings for the couple’s marriage.These traditions may vary but each one is significant and stems from absolute and pure love.