South Asian Weddings: What You Need to Know

Marriage is one of the most important events in a person’s life. It is coming together of two individuals, two souls and two families. In the Indian context, the importance and sanctity of the wedding institution can be gauged from the fact that a number of rituals are performed to accomplish it. South Asian weddings are performed with utmost care and in accordance with ancient practices.

Some of the Important Parts of a South Asian Wedding

Pre Wedding Ceremonies

Roka (end of search) – This ceremony marks the beginning of a formal relationship between the families of the bride and the groom. This is a relatively small family tradition to secure the commitment to the relationship. The families involved exchange sweets and gifts (generally traditional clothes and jewelry). This exchange is symbolic of welcoming the bride’s family to the groom’s and vice versa.

Chunni Chadana Ceremony (Gifting of a scarf to the bride)Chunni chadana is similar to an engagement in the western tradition. The groom’s parents and close relatives visit the bride’s house. The groom’s sister or sister in law presents the girl a red sari or suit, as a token of acceptance of the girl in their family. Thereafter, the girl wears the clothes given by the boy’s family. The main ritual of the ceremony is when the girl’s soon-to-be mother-in-law places a red chunni or scarf on the girl’s head and gives her traditional jewelry. The ceremony comes to an end with the exchanging of rings between the prospective bride and groom.

Mehndi CeremonyMehndi is an important pre wedding ritual for Sikh, Hindu and Indian weddings. Mehndi is taken to the girl’s place by the boy’s family. This Mehndi is then applied to the girl’s hands and feet in beautiful motifs. The gifts for the girl with the mehndi also include dry fruits, specifically dry dates.

The Wedding Ceremony

Milni Ceremony – The bride’s family welcomes the groom and his family when the baraat (wedding procession) arrives at the wedding venue. The girl’s relatives offer shagun (a token of good luck) to the groom’s close relatives. It is a ceremony symbolic of the coming together of both families.

Religious wedding Ritual – This ceremony involves the recital of sacred verses from the holy text of the bride and groom’s religion.

In the Hindu tradition, this is called Lanyadaan and Phere, the bride and groom take seven rounds along a small fire. Fire is symbolic of sacred energy and the seven rounds are symbolic of promises made by husband and wife to each other. The Bride’s give her hand into the hands of the groom. This symbolizes that the bride is a part of the groom’s family.

In the Sikh tradition, this ceremony is called Anand Karaj. The Bride and Groom, their families and relatives go to a Gurdwara where sacred verses are recited, and the bride and groom take four rounds around the Holy Book followed by Ardas.

Reception Ceremony

The groom’s family often throws a reception party following the wedding day. It is an occasion, where the newly wedded couple is given a warm welcome by all who are invited at the wedding. A more relaxed atmosphere is observed at the reception and families celebrate the successful completion of the wedding.


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