Alexis Jenson SCU ’18
India is a place rich with diversity. Naturally, it fits that their wedding customs and traditions would follow this diversity. You might think that there’d only be three main types of weddings in India; Muslim, Christian, and Hindu, however, that is not the case. Indian weddings vary from religion, north and south, and even city to city. For this blog post, I am going to be talking mainly about bridal attire and focusing on Hindu ceremonies.
Brides within Hindu ceremonies typically wear a sari or a lehenga.
The color of the sari has significant meaning. Often brides will wear red, yellow, green or white. Red is most common because it has profound significance. Red represents prosperity, fertility, and is connected to the rising sun.
The bride will wear “ornaments.” Traditionally gold or precious stones. Her jewelry, or “ornaments” will also have great significance. When I interviewed Thomas and Rachel Chancy, who are both from southern India, they told me that the more gold a bride wears, the more money she’s thought to have. Though Rachel said, “No matter what the ornaments always compliment the colors of the dress.”
In Northern India, it’s very common for a Bride to wear a veil as well. This veil is known as a ghunghat and is worn to show respect for the elders and deities that may be present. The “Ritual of Mehndi” is a big celebration for the bride and her family. One night before the wedding the mehndi, or henna, is applied to the bride’s hand and feet. After her henna has been applied the rest of the night is enjoyed with music, dance, and dinner. It is thought that the longer the bride’s henna lasts, the more love and affection she will have within her marriage.
Before the ceremony, the bride waits at the venue with a Jaimala/Varamala or a decorated flower garland, for the groom. Once the groom arrives, they exchange garlands. It’s lightly considered that whoever puts the garland on their partner first will have the upper hand in the marriage.
By researching this topic, I’ve learned a lot about what is important in Indian dress, and by extension what is relevant within their culture. I’m super excited to see how the symbolism of color and jewelry are present in Indian society, especially when it comes to their streetwear.
Gullapalli, S., & Raju Sagi, A. (2009). Indian Wedding Traditions. Rice University Office of International Students and Scholars. Retrieved December 26, 2016, from https://oiss.rice.edu/content.aspx?id=116.
Real Weddings. (2015, February 1). Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://www.bigindianwedding.com/real-weddings
Team BollywoodShaadis. (2012, December 11). The Eternal Connection of Red and Indian Brides. Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://www.bollywoodshaadis.com/articles/the-eternal-connection-of-red-and-indian-brides-1565
Editorial Team. (2012, February 1). Significance of colours in an Indian wedding. Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://www.bigindianwedding.com/Article/Planning-Ideas/Wedding-Rituals/Rituals-by-Community/Significance-of-colours-in-an-Indian-wedding/
Gupta, P. (2010, January 3). Significance of Henna or Mehendi. Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://www.matrimonialsindia.com/blog/significance-of-henna-or-mehendi.htm