We had a fantastic response last week to our first post from resident Indian Wedding Expert Bhavna Barratt and we’re thrilled to be able to share another rather enlightening post with you today! So without further ado we’ll hand the blog over to Bhavna to fill you in on the facts…
So, you’ve been dating for a few years and your boyfriend has proposed, woohoo you’re engaged! Well, for most people this would classify as an engagement and where the whole wedding process starts… Eh-Uh. Not if you’re a South East Asian.
Forget the proposal**, the process for us starts when we introduce our boyfriend to our family. As soon as we do this, our parents will ask:
‘So when are you getting married?’
‘Shall we speak to his family?’
‘When are we meeting his family’
‘Has he not proposed yet?’
‘What is he waiting for?’
Once we get through the questions stage, we get to, the meet the parents stage. This is when both families meet and discuss the way forward. Yes, you read right, discuss.
To explain this whole meet the parents and discuss scenario, in our culture, marriage is not just the union of two individuals, but of the coming together of two families, and everyone in between. So the level of involvement that you get not just from your immediate family but from your extended family, is immense.
The Asian culture is diverse, and within it are many customs and traditions that vary from sect to sect and from one family to another. So, like a Jain wedding will have its own rituals as will a Tamil wedding, both are Hindu, but both have their own customs. Similarly a Bohri wedding will be totally different from example, a Persian wedding, yet both are Muslim.
So, because of this diversity, it’s important for the parents to meet, to determine compatibility between the two families and their customs and traditions and then to discuss the wedding itself. How it will be performed, what it will involve, set dates for the engagement and then the wedding.
For a Hindu couple, the parents speak to the priest who will find the most auspicious dates for the engagement ceremony (also known as Sagai). The ceremony itself can be a big event, with it’s own little traditions and can take weeks of planning. It is here when the rings are exchanged and the couple are ‘officially’ engaged.
For a Sikh couple, the parents set a date for a ‘roka’. This officiates the relationship between the two families. The wedding date can also be set on this day. As with the Hindu engagement ceremony, this can be a big event, although most couples prefer to share this with just their families and then have a larger pre-wedding event later.
For a Muslim couple things are slightly different, as in Islam, an engagement does not hold any real significance. Traditionally, the proposal is taken by the boys family to the girls family and once the families accept the proposal, the couple are deemed committed. This can vary too though and depends much on the diaspora and background of the couple and their families. Some Muslim couples will have an engagement party to announce that the families have accepted the proposal.
**This is not always the case, after all we are the Bollywood generation and there are some wonderful proposal stories that I have heard in my job. Many couples will class themselves to be engaged as soon as the boyfriend proposes, although tradition has it that it is the norm for the parents to meet and take things forward as per the customs.
Oops… talk about information overload! Well don’t worry hopefully it sets the scene for what I’ll be talking about over the next few weeks – I’ll take you through each wedding type, the pre-wedding ceremonies and the full shebang!