Different types of wedding ceremony
A Christian Wedding
A Christian wedding is conducted in church and all relatives and friends of the bride and groom are invited. An Indian Christian bride wears a western-style white gown, a netted veil, and carries a bouquet at the wedding. She walks down the aisle of the church with her father and bridesmaids while the groom waits with his best man. In a Christian wedding the bridal couple exchange wedding bands and marriage vows. The priest reads psalms from the Holy Bible in the presence of the couple and renders a sermon called the Homily. After the Homily, the bride and the groom hold each other’s right hands and make a promise of lifelong loyalty to stay together. The wedding ceremony concludes when the priest blesses the couple and the couple then signs the register. A grand reception party is held afterwards to celebrate the wedding.
A Muslim Wedding
A Muslim wedding in India is termed a “Nikaah” and is performed by a Muslim Priest called “Maulvi”, at either the bride´s or the groom´s place and at any convenient time. The “Maulvi” reads certain verses from the Quran after which Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance) takes place. The mutual consent of both sides is significant for the wedding ceremony to conclude. On the wedding day, elderly members of both families decide the amount of “Mehar” (a nuptial gift). Unlike a Hindu wedding, the Muslim wedding entails the giving of cash by the groom´s father to the bride´s father. Then a legal document called Nikahnama is duly signed by the bride, groom, “Quazi” and Walis for the marriage to be legal. Later the wedding feast takes place with men and women seated separately for dining. After dinner, the heads of the bride and groom are covered with a cloth and they read prayers as per the instructions of the “Maulvi”.
A Gujarati Wedding
Gujarati culture is deeply rooted in customs and traditions. A Gujarati wedding begins with two exchanges of garlands between the bride and the groom. In the Madhuparka ceremony, the groom is given honey and milk to drink and the bride’s father washes the groom’s feet. To conclude the “Kanyadaan” ceremony, the bride’s father gives his daughter’s hand to the groom. “Kanyadaan” is performed in front of a holy fire that witnesses the union of the bride and the groom. Then in Hasta Milap the groom’s scarf or shawl is tied to the bride’s saree. This symbolizes the meeting of two hearts and souls. Meanwhile, the priest chants mantras and seeks the blessings of Goddesses Parvati and Lakshmi for the couple, and the couple circles the sacred fire. In a Gujarati wedding ceremony, there are four mangal pheras. Then in the “Saptapadi” ceremony the wedded couple takes seven steps together and takes seven vows. The wedding ceremony concludes when the couple seeks the blessings of the parents and elders.
A Parsi Wedding
On the wedding day called the ‘Nahan’, the, doorway, staircase and gate are decorated with beautiful “Rangoli” designs. A Parsi wedding is conducted either after sunset or very early in the morning. A Parsi bride dresses in a white, ornate wedding saree, while the groom wears a traditional Parsi dagli and feta and a black cap. The Parsi wedding is called the Achumichu and the groom performs the Achumichu ritual before stepping onto the wedding stage. The bride’s mother then takes a tray with a raw egg, supari, dates, rice, coconut and water and begins the ceremony. In the Ara antar ceremony, the couple sits facing each other with a cloth held between them. Other rituals of a Parsi wedding are Chero bandhvanu and Haath borvanu. In Chero bandhvanu, the bride and groom sit beside each other with seven strands of string binding them. The Parsi priests begin hour-long marriage prayers and at the end the couple is showered with rice and rose petals.
A South Indian Wedding
The ambience of a South Indian wedding includes pine petals at the entrance, plantain trees tied on gateposts, notes of Nadaswaram and beautiful colorful Rangolis at the doorsteps. A branch of a papal tree is kept in the “mandap” and washed by 5 housewives to seek blessings of God on this auspicious occasion. The bride wears the holy thread for protection from evil spirits during “Vratham”. The couple exchange garlands and circle the sacred fire. The bride and groom are made to sit on a swing while the family sings songs to bless them. The groom´s feet are showered in milk and the “Kanyadaan” is done by the bride´s father with the bride sitting in his lap. A South Indian wedding takes place in the early morning, with the evenings reserved for fun. In evenings, guests and family members dress up in fine clothes, sing songs and enjoy the wedding feast.
A Marathi Wedding
Maharashtrian weddings are simple and most rituals of a Marathi wedding are performed in the early morning. A Marathi bride dressed in green or yellow sari worships the Goddess Parvati until she is summoned to the dais. The bride’s maternal uncle then brings her to the dais where “Antarpat”, a silk shawl, separates the bride and the groom. The mangalashtakas are recited and the silk shawl is removed. Then the couple sees each other for the first time and they exchange garlands. Rice is showered upon the couple and they ask their parents for permission to get married. This is followed by “Kanyadaan” ceremony in which the bride´s parents offer their daughter to the groom. After Kanyadaan, the groom ties a mangalsutra around the bride’s neck and applies vermillion in her hair parting. The bride applies a sandalwood tilak on the groom´s forehead. The wedding ceremony concludes with the “Karmasampati” ritual, where the bride’s father, the bride and the groom pray to God for his blessings.
A Sikh Wedding
A Sikh wedding is known as “Anand Karaj”, and the rituals are read from Guru Granth Sahib. On the wedding day, the groom arrives at the bride´s place on a mare, wearing a “Sehra” / veil of golden threads in front of his face. The bride and the groom chant hymns and pray to God to keep the ceremony pure. Then the Sikh priest performs the Anand Karaj (the main wedding ceremony). Writings of the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjun Dev, are read out in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. The wedding ceremony is conducted in four parts. After each part is read, the couple pays obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib and circles the Holy Book. Then rituals of special prayers called Ardaas and Shukrana are held and the ceremony ends with Hukunama − a proof statement that the marriage has been concluded.
A Hindu Wedding
Hindu weddings are elaborate and can last up to a week. According to traditional Hindu wedding customs, the astrologer matches the horoscopes of the bride and groom before the wedding is fixed. This is followed by an engagement ceremony. A shubh muhurat / auspicious time is fixed for the wedding by the priest. A couple of days before the wedding a Mehendi ceremony is celebrated by the bride’s family. On the wedding day, the groom’s family and relatives arrive at the bride’s home in a wedding procession / Baraat, while the groom rides a horse. He is followed by a band playing drums and music. A Hindu wedding or Shubh Vivah is conducted in a traditional manner and the language used is partially or completely Sanskrit. Sometimes, the priest translates Sanskrit shlokas into the local language for the benefit of the guests present at the ceremony. The wedding takes place on the ground under a canopy called the ‘mandap’. The bride, groom and parents of both bride and groom sit on the ground while the priest conducts the wedding ceremony. In the centre of the “mandap” is the sacred fire symbolizing the Lord as a witness to the holy matrimony. The bride and the groom take the wedding vows, repeating them after the priest, and circle the fire. At the end of the wedding ceremony the bride leaves her home to accompany the groom to his place and she throws back handfuls of rice. The bride’s brothers symbolically push her vehicle ahead of them as a blessing to head-start her new life after the wedding.