Wedding Venue with a ring!
Indian weddings are very bright events, filled with ritual and celebration, that continue for several days. They are not small affairs, often with 400-1000 people attending (many of whom may be unknown to the bride and groom). Though many Indian marriages are arranged, some couples have love marriages. The true Indian wedding is about two families getting wedded socially with much less emphasis on the individuals involved.
Hindu wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted at least partially in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted. The local language of the people involved is also used since most Hindus cannot understand Sanskrit. They have many rituals that have evolved since traditional times and differ in many ways from the modern western wedding ceremony.
Crazy crowds gone wild
Hindus attach a great deal of importance to marriages and the events leading up to and following the ceremony.
The Groom's party arrives before the wedding ceremony and walks in a procession to ceremony location. It’s almost like a parade of sorts, with musicians, dancing and fireworks. The atmosphere is lively and charged with energy. The groom rides on a horse drawn carriage to the ceremony location where the bride's mother applies kumkum to his forehead. The application of kumkum to the forehead is a traditional Hindu practice that relates to the spiritual belief that this is the most holy part of the body (the sixth chakra or third eye) and it is here that human beings open spiritually to the divine. The groom is then escorted to the mandap, or large canopy erected outdoors.
Enter the Bride
Seating is provided surrounding the mandap for the party of the groom and bride. The bride herself is then escorted in a palkhi, which is is a covered sedan chair (or litter) carried on four poles. This is done quite slowly and ceremoniously and there is time to appreciate the beauty of her wedding wardrobe, which is traditionally a red or red and white sari. This is one sensational sari too! These are some beautiful moments as she is escorted in. Before proceeding to the mandap, there is some time spent where the bride and groom stand before the crowd (for photo opportunities I assume). The family also joins them after a time (again for photo opportunities I assume). At one point during this time, flower petals were shot into the air and cascaded down.
Wedding Ceremony I
It was quite a visually striking scene. Eventually the bride and groom make their way to the mandap. I don’t know all the details of the ceremony that takes place from here, but it lasted a couple hours I think. There is a Hindu priest there who conducts part of the ceremony in Sanskrit. It is all very ceremonious and steeped in tradition. It was the kind of event where you could watch for a while, then walk about and socialize or have refreshments, come back to view for a few moments and so on. In the sections I watch there always seemed to be something different going on. I think what I appreciated about it was that it was very different from a wedding where people sit and just watch. This seemed more like a social event for people to mingle around and watch as much or as little as they chose.
Eventually the couple is joined together and everyone adjourns to the reception area for the post- wedding gathering. The bride and groom receive guests there and there is much in the way of photo opportunities. Meals and drinks are served during this time and the bride and groom eventually depart to change clothing and then come back for the speeches in tribute and dancing that follows. There is a party atmosphere until eventually things wind down and people begin to disperse. The wedding day comes to an end, leaving one with warm and happy feelings for the day spent in joining the couple in marriage.
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