Indian weddings are grand affairs, but they are very different than what an average westerner is used to seeing. They are very regional too. India is a huge country, with many communities, religions, cultures, and languages. So the wedding customs and traditions too will be different, depending on where you are. There will be huge difference in what you will see in the North, South, East, and the West.
North Indian Weddings
In north India, traditionally, the main ceremony is at the home of the bride. But there are several both pre and post wedding ceremonies as well. The most important pre-wedding ceremony is the Sagai or the Mangni, which is the engagement ceremony. The bride’s father will treat the groom with honey and yogurt and welcome the groom’s party to the home. Garlands will be exchanged, which signifies that the bride and groom have accepted each other. This is called the Jaimala.
Agni or the ceremonial fire is lit. Signifying purity, this is an important Hindu ritual. The couple will then offer Rajaham or sacrifice to the fire. Next will be the Gath Bandhan, which signifies the eternal match. Next will be the most important part of the wedding – the Mangal Phere or Saat Phere. The groom and bride will hold hands and circle the fire, taking vows to stay together for life. Elders and the parents will bless the new couple. The Mangal Sutra or necklace is also very important in the north. The groom will put this on the bride and apply vermillion on her head.
- Sagai or Mangni – The engagement ceremony
- Jaimala – Garland exchanged between the bride and groom
- Havan – Holy fire
- Rajaham – Sacrifice offered to the fire
- Gath Bandhan – The eternal tie between the bride and groom
- Saat Phere – Circling the fire seven times
- Mangal Sutra – A necklace put on the bride
South Indian Weddings
As you enter the venue, you will see a fully-grown tree tied to the gate, mango leaves, petals, and festoons. Rangoli designs will be on the doorstep. The groom will visit a temple a day before the wedding. On the day, he will arrive with his parents and a music band at the venue or the Mandapam. There is a formal welcome of the groom party. Lord Ganesha is invoked so that the ceremony goes up smoothly. There are other presiding Gods too. A leafy branch of the Pipal tree is set by five married ladies to please them. The branch is washed with milk.
A dhoti and sari (traditional Indian dresses) are presented to the couple next. The Vratham (vowing) ceremony is conducted separately by the groom and bride. A thread is tied on the wrist of the bride, and the groom promises to be a good Grihasta (responsible husband). The father’s of both the bride and groom will formalize the marriage, with Vedic priest chanting holy hymns. Ancestors of the last three generations will be remembered. The couple will then exchange garlands. The Mangal Sutra is placed over the Kusa, and holy water is poured over it. A new Koorai Sari is draped over the bride. The couple will then pay their honor to Agni, by circling the holy fire.
- Mandapam – The place of wedding
- Vratham – The couple taking vows to love and respect each other
- Kusa – A ring placed on the bride’s finger
- Koorai – A sari the bride has to wear
- Akshadai – Rice grains showered on the couple
Wedding cultures and traditions in India differ from one community and region to another. But the fire or Agni is deemed holy almost throughout the country. It is part of the wedding almost everywhere.
East Indian Weddings
There are many symbolic rituals and rites in the east as well. Bengali weddings are simple and traditional. It starts with the Baran Dala, a decorated plate, which is touched on the groom’s forehead, as a welcome gesture. It is also a blessing. The groom is then offered sherbet and sweets. Next is the Shubho Drishti, where a piece of cloth is slowly lifted from the bride’s face so that the two can look at each other’s eyes. Then there is the Mala Badal or the exchange of garlands, while holy chants are read out. The couple will then do the Saat Paak ritual, where they will circle the fire seven times, symbolizing the union for seven lives. An elderly person, usually, the bride’s uncle will then do the Sampradan, where the groom takes over the responsibility of the bride. Next morning will be Bashi Biye. The groom will apply vermilion on his new wife’s head.
In the Assamese community, the wedding day starts with the bride and groom’s mother visiting a river and collecting holy water. Both the bride and groom then take a bath with this water separately. The reception party with dinner in Assam is before the wedding ceremony. The groom’s party takes out a big procession, but can enter the bride’s home only after paying money.
After this, the bride’s sister will wash the groom’s feet. The bride’s brother will then lift him up and carry him inside the wedding venue. A bride will enter after eating the Panch-Amrit, a mixture of five things – honey, milk, sugar, curd, and ghee. The couple will exchange garlands and take vows while conch shells are blown. The groom will apply vermillion on the bride’s forehead. Relatives and friends will now bless the couple. A groom’s mother will perform Aarti.
- Paka Dakha – Final arrangements of the wedding
- Shubho Drishti – Groom sees the bride’s face on the wedding day
- Sampradan – The girl is formally given to the groom
- Mala Badal – The exchange of garlands
- Saat Paak – Circling the holy fire seven times
- Basar Ghar – Day after the wedding
West Indian Weddings
Maharashtrian weddings are held in the morning, unlike other Indian communities. An uncle of the bride will escort her to the venue on the Shubh Muhurat or auspicious time. Shlokas will be read even as the Antarpaat or the veil is removed. Elders and friends shower rice or Akshata on the couple. Garlands are now exchanged, after which the couple will circle the fire for seven times – Saat Pheras. Laxmi Puja is conducted. The girl’s hand is now given formally to the groom in a ceremony called the Jhal Phirawne.
Gujarati weddings start with a prayer offered to Lord Ganesha. There are Mehndi and Sangeet ceremonies after this. The garland or jaimala is exchanged two times. The groom will be on a higher platform the first time, but next time, they will be at the same level. Next will be the Madhuparka ceremony, where the groom’s feet are washed. He is also given milk and honey to drink. Father of the bride will then offer the girl. Hasta Milap is a ceremony where the groom’s shawl will be tied to the bride’s sari. The bride’s sister will steal the groom’s shoes just for fun. This is called Juta Churai. The groom has to pay money to recover his shoes. Finally, there will be the Pheras where the couple will circle the sacred fire while the priest chants mantras.
In Marwari weddings, there are only male members in the Baraat or the groom’s party. The groom arrives on a horse or elephant. They also carry swords, which show valor. Rajput grooms wear a churidar with an orange turban and gold achkan. Ladies take the party inside on arrival. Aarti is conducted by the bride’s mother. Only one married man, usually a younger brother of the bride, can take the groom to the Mandap. The bride’s face is covered with a veil.
- Goraj Muhurat – Auspicious time of the wedding
- Antarpaat – Veil covering the girl’s face
- Akshata – Rice showered on the couple
- Jhal Phirawne – The bride is formally offered to the boy
- Madhuparka – The groom’s feet is washed with milk and honey
- Hasta Milap – Groom’s shawl is tied to the bride’s sari
- Baraati – The groom’s wedding party
- Griha Pravesh – The bride entering the groom’s home formally
Top 7 Things To Expect In An Indian Wedding
- Lots of People – Almost every wedding in the country will be attended by hundreds, and sometimes, even thousands of people – friends, family, neighbors, and even colleagues from work. Expect a lot of lights, music, and noise. There can be fireworks too. Indian weddings are rarely private affairs. The groom’s party can arrive in a horse or elephant, especially in the north.
- Extravagant Gifts – The bride will be covered from head to toe in gold. The bride’s family and even the groom’s will decorate her. The attending guests too give away exorbitant gifts, sometimes in gold and diamond.
- Lavish Decorations – The bride’s and the groom’s home and the wedding venue will be lavishly decorated with flowers, fountains, lights, and decorative ribbons. There will be music or a live band or DJ.
- 3 Day Celebrations – Most Indian weddings are held over three days. The engagement ceremony or Sagai is a big event at the home of a friend or family, followed by the actual wedding, and finally, there is a huge dinner party organized by the groom’s family. There can be singing and dancing at the party. The actual wedding is organized by the bride’s parents.
- The Holy Fire – Agni or the holy fire is an important part of almost every Indian wedding. The couple will take their sacred vows by circling the fire. In some communities, they will also sit around the fire and chant mantras.
- Colorful Dresses – Indian dress up lavishly for weddings. You will see a riot of colors everywhere, with people wearing lehengas, colorful saris, suits, bangles, and glittering jewelry. Most wear traditional dresses. Many will even buy new clothes for the occasion. Don’t wear white or black, as these colors have negative implications in Indian society. Also, avoid wearing red, as this is the color of the bride.
- Huge Feasts – There are lots of food, from appetizers to desserts, including drinks, both on the day of the wedding and the reception party. In big weddings, there can be more than 100 preparations.
Goa is mostly Christian, so the wedding customs are different than the rest of the country. However, Indian traditions and customs have influenced Goan weddings as well over the years changing them. For instance, many Goanese people now wear red, and the girls are seen wearing bangles. A traditional Goan marriage is now referred to as a ‘white wedding’. But most men and women still wear western style dresses.
In earlier times, a ‘raibari’ or ‘mali’ used to arrange everything, by carrying the proposal to the girl’s or boy’s family. Families now arrange directly. The engagement ceremony is usually at the groom’s home with exchange of rings. It is done in the presence of relatives, parents, friends, and priests. The groom’s ring has an Infant Jesus statuette. The bride’s family places the dowry in a box, which an elderly family member counts.
- Raibari – A person who carried the proposal to the groom’s or bride’s family
- Utor – Promise to marry the girl or boy
- Yezman – An elderly person who counts the dowry
- Zoti – Special commemorative songs
- Roas – Ceremonial bath of the bride and groom
- Bicareanchem Jevonn – Lunch to honor the ancestors
The wedding bann is read in a church on 3 consecutive Sundays, informing everyone of the wedding. Next, the bride will wear the Chuddo, as she goes for lunch at her maternal uncle’s home. She is also made to wear green and yellow bangles here, as zoti songs are sung. The bangle seller receives bananas, coconut, rice, and some money in exchange. The bride and groom will next take a bath separately in coconut water, a ceremony called Roas. The Bicareanchem Jevonn special lunch is held to honor the ancestors.
On the wedding day, a close family member of the groom will help the bride dress. Everyone will bless the bride just before she leaves for the church. They will arrive at the groom’s house from church, where his mother will put a gold chain on her neck. Prayers are sung or recited.
Top 6 Wedding Venues In Goa
There are many great wedding venues in Goa. Here are some of the top ones.
- The Zuri White Sands – This right on South Goa’s Varca beach. There are outdoor beachfront facilities, manicured gardens, and banquet rooms, spread out over 37 acres. There are even planning resources, projectors, audio-visual materials, and lights too. There are 4 venues to choose from, 2 of them outdoors. Guests can also play casino games here.
- Zeebop by the Sea – A restaurant in South Goa’s Utorda beach, this can also be a very good destination wedding venue. The open sandy strip can accommodate 100 guests. The second venue is for 300. Both the venues can be merged for a bigger party.
- The Lalit – In South Goa’s Rajbagh beach, there are banquet halls, a poolside, and 8 landscaped gardens that are designed by French landscape artists. The Lalit also offers professional event planning. There are 11 venues here, including 8 outdoors. Guests can enjoy the golf course, poolside bar, gym, Jacuzzi, archery, water sports, and more.
- Leela Kempinski – This is India’s only river and beachside luxury resort, located at the confluence of the Sal River and the sea in South Goa’s Mobor beach. There are garden, poolside, beachside, and banquet halls in this 75 acres property. Even planning includes beauty treatments, mehendi, transportation, fireworks, food, and décor.
- Cidade De Goa – A beachfront location with rolling hills make this a good wedding destination in Goa. There are 7 venues to choose from here, including 5 outdoors. There is an outdoor pool and spa for the guests.
- Holiday Inn Resort – This too is in South Goa’s Mobor beach. Here, there is the beachfront lawn for 600 people, the main hall for 400-500, and a third lawn, which is good for 500 guests. There is a fitness center, ayurvedic spa, sports courts, game room, and a play area for the kids.
Top Wedding Villas In Goa
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For details about wedding ceremony in Goa, please contact Art Goa wedding agency.
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