As usual Indian weddings have lots of celebrations preceding the wedding day and all are full colour, splendour and excitement. There are countless customs and many sub-cultures that I will only deal with a few as a guide for you. Remember his is a summery from a wedding photographers point of view.
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These events are extremely important to Indian weddings and are deemed to be necessary events for the pending wedding.
Listed below are couple of the rituals that are observed by the Hindu community, even here in London.
This is kept the night before the wedding and normally it’s the ladies on the bride’s side celebrate this ritual.
A professional mehndi artist and talented relatives will apply henna in very sophisticated designs to the hands and feet of the bride and other women family members would like to have the henna done.
These designs are meant to signify beauty, a spiritual awakening and joy.
Guests at the event dress in bright colours after all it an Indian party, and there will be singing and dancing to traditional wedding songs.
This ceremony is performed for good luck. Usually the bride and groom have separate pithi ceremonies at the respective family homes.
Pithi is a paste made primarily from turmeric (haldi) and water, some time rose water is used too.
Members of the family and well wishers of the bride and groom will administer this paste on the groom/bride’s face and feet.
This pithi ceremony occurs a day or two before the wedding and is believed to even the skin tones and brighten the skin for the special day.
Indian Weddings London and The Ceremony Explained in Short:
This wedding ceremony is essentially a sequence of sacred rituals that join the bride and groom as husband and wife. Indian see this as joining of families too and for most part, the families play a major part in lifestyle of the bride and groom here for support and guidance.
Baraat: The wedding ceremony begins with the arrival of the groom’s procession with droll players, traditionally on a horse or an elephant. In London a wedding car will have to the substitute.
Milni is the meeting of the families, where the bride’s family greets the groom’s family. In some communities garlands are exchanged.
Traditionally Ganesh Puja would take place, this is the prayer to the Lord Ganesh and the start of the ceremony. However, in 2018 most Londoners have this ceremony the day prior the wedding.
Kanya Aagaman is the arrival of the bride escorted by family members, for hindu’s this is the mama (the bride mother’s brother) or the brother
Jai Mala is the exchanging of flower garlands by the bride and groom.
Kanyadaan and Hasta Melap is when the father of the bride places her hand on the groom’s hand and pours holy water over both hands. The groom’s scarf is then tied/attached to the bride’s wedding sari to embody an eternal bond of marital life.
Vivah Havan is when the priest lights the sacred fire or Agni to represent it’s holy presence as a witness and it is believed that promises made in the presence of Agni are made in the presence of God.
Mangal Phere is when the bride and groom circle around the very sacred fire four or seven times (again regional variance where the family come from from back in India) each circle representing their aspirations in life.
Saptapadi is the seven sacred steps the bride and groom take with each step making a special sacred vows to each other.
The bride and groom then return to their seats and the bride then moves to sit at the groom’s side taking the place closest to the groom’s heart.
The groom then offers his lifelong protection putting a necklace made of gold and black beads around her neck.
Sindoor or red vermilion powder is put by the groom on the bride’s forehead, this ritual now signifies the bride’s status as a married woman.
Wedding rings: At some Indian weddings, the rings may be exchanged and they feed each other some sweets.
Aashirvaad is the final blessing of the married couple and and generally a total of four ladies of the two families whisper blessings into the bride’s ear.
Blessings of the Indian Priest and Parents:
The couple bows down to the priest, and their parents to receive their final blessings.
The wedding is now complete and lastly the guests shower the newly married couple with flower petals and rice as a way of wishing them a happy and long marriage.
Hope you can find this summery of the cultural tradition of indian wedding ceremony wonderful to make your day even more special.
Bipin Dattani has a great passion for wedding photography and in particular likes to capture creative wedding and fine-art photos without breaking the bank. If you ‘d like to see more of Bipin’s Indian weddings london photography, then you can go to his portfolio page.