Wow, what a fantastic few weeks it has been, I’ve just got back from an amazing four day wedding and I’m buzzing with excitement. I love a big fat Indian wedding, I always have a huge grin on my face on the day and then when I start editing that wedding too, I love re-living those fun moments. It’s just a sheer joy.
By now you’ll no doubt be up to date with Sikh weddings and all the pre-wedding rituals it entails. Similarly Hindu weddings have a varied set of pre-wedding events and ceremonies that take place.
I’m a Hindu Gujarati myself and had a massive wedding in Tanzania, with all the rituals, I must say they are long long days…with lots of prayers, but also lots of FUN. The Hindu religion is steeped with tradition and customs, and every pre-wedding ritual has it own importance and meaning. Whether it be for peace, asking for blessings or just for some fun.
This is a guide about Gujarati Hindu weddings, there are other types of Hindu wedding ceremonies such as the Tamil Hindu wedding ceremony which has it’s own customs and traditions.
So as with the Sikh wedding guide, I’m going to break this down for you in two parts, there is just way too much information, and I certainly don’t want to overload you with it.
This signals the start of all the wedding festivities, it’s a small ceremony where Lord Ganesh (the elephant God) is invited to be present to remove all obstacles and provide the newlyweds with happiness and prosperity. The ceremony involves the couple and their parents and is held simultaneously at the respective residences of the bride and groom, usually the day before the wedding.
A Hindu wedding takes place under a wooden canopy called a mandap, in the olden days this would be put up outside where you would need to dig the ground for the structure to stay in place. This ceremony asks for the blessings of Mother Earth for the digging to start. These days you will see that the priest will ask for some sand to be brought into a small pot into which they will insert a decorated wood log to mark that the significance.
This is perhaps one of the most important puja’s (rituals) before a Hindu wedding. The puja is to seek blessings from the nine planets, and it is important because in Hinduism everything revolves around the sun, moon and the planets. So as to remove all the obstacles that may harm the marriage and to ask for peace and protection for the bride and the groom, this puja is conducted both at the bride and grooms homes usually straight after the Ganesh puja and mandvo.
The Yellow stuff! Yes you see this all the time in Indian wedding photos, the bride or the groom are covered in yellow stuff that makes them look like a character out of the Simpsons. Well it ain’t the Simpsons, I tell you! This ceremony is so much FUN! I love watching the bride and groom getting plastered in the yellow stuff and then when they are all done, the bride and groom can apply it on the family members too, this is where all the mischievous cousins have a good time plastering each other with the haldi. I’ve even had it come flying onto my forehead!
Pithi, also known as haldi, is a paste made of turmeric, chickpea flour and rose water. On the same day as the Ganesh puja and sometimes straight after it, the family members of the couple will apply the paste on the bride or grooms skin.
This haldi paste is meant to brighten and even the skin tone, so that the couple may have a glow on the wedding day.
Some believe, that if the bride or groom rub haldi on someone who is not yet married, it increases the possibility them getting married!
In Gujarati, mama means mums brother, so a mameru (meaning from the maternal uncles) is simply a ceremony where the bride receives gifts from her maternal uncle that includes the traditional panetar (the bridal silk sari with red border) and bangles.
Mehndis or henna nights as some may know them as, as fun events to celebrate the wedding. These are held usually a couple of days before the wedding and there is a lot of dancing and fun involved. This is when henna will be applied on the bride and other women in the family.
The Sangeet ceremony, as the name suggests, is all about dance and music. It is one of the most enjoyable ceremonies before the wedding and is sometimes held as a joint event with both bride and groom being present at the same time. It is seen as a time for joy and merriment amidst the hectic hustle and bustle before the wedding. There is a LOT of dancing that happens on this day.
As you can see the Hindu wedding ceremony is steeped in tradition and custom, there is a lot to take in, but there is a lot of fun to be had too. Every time I have been to a Hindu wedding, I have loved capturing these ceremonies, there is a kind of inner peace that you get from watching them being performed, and there has never been a dull moment either, there is so much happy chaos at these events, that without it, it wouldn’t feel like a wedding house!
I’m always greeted with a cuppa chaa everytime I go to these events, so that’s me sorted!
Have a great weekend!
Indian Wedding Photography by Bhavna Barratt
Profile picture by Tux & Tales Photography