(Last Updated on : 06/02/2010)
Indian wedding and its various traditions are vast and they differ with the different regions of the country. This special social ceremony includes several elaborate rituals. The customs and traditions play a significant role in Indian marriages, be it a Hindu marriage ceremony or a Muslim marriage ceremony. The customs and rituals followed during an Indian wedding reflect the rich culture and heritage of this diverse country. This oldest convention of mankind is an important event of one`s life. It involves the practice of exchanging garlands between the bride and the groom. It means the mutual acceptance of the couple in a formal way. Indian culture principally favoured the concept of arranged marriages. In the ancient times, weddings took place in eight different ways and the entire procedure was based upon the Shastric ideas. With passing time, though most of the traditions and rituals have survived, but the stance towards marriages has largely altered.
History of Indian Wedding
Indian weddings have a rich history associated with them. Caste system in India
has a long and prevalent history too. Each and every caste has its own norms that hold special significance when it comes to weddings. Hence, as per the existing norms in Indian societies, the professional duties of a father were meant for the sons who would carry that legacy forward and it also meant that marriages used to take place stringently within the castes. The history of ancient India also has references of polyandry and polygamy. In earlier days, falling in love before wedding was considered as a sin. In the medieval period the concept of `Swayamwaras` came into being. It was arranged by the kings exclusively for their daughters, where the prospective brides used to select grooms after judging the presentation of their capabilities. In that era, for all the girls, marriage was compulsory except for those who chose asceticism. The custom of divorce was rare and even if it did occur, all the possessions were divided proportionately. In the modern period, every sphere of life has undergone a huge change and wedding ceremonies are not exceptional. Nowadays, wedding planners plan and arrange all the requirements of marriage celebrations. The rituals and rites have been made short and very precise.
Traditions of Indian Wedding
In a traditional Indian society, marriages are given utmost priority. The basic rituals involve almost all the colours of merriment and enjoyment. Hindu wedding, Sikh wedding, Muslim wedding, etc. are all different from one another. Hindu marriages involve mehendi and sangeet decorations. It also includes seven important steps and these are Swagat, Tilak, Jayamala, Ganesh Puja, Madurparka, Kanyadaan, Hasta Milapa, Mangal Fera and Satapadi. It is conducted under a decorated covering structure called as `Mandap`. In Sikh religion, weddings are considered as a ceremony of bliss. In this religion, weddings take place before noon and the family of the bride and the groom assemble at Gurudwara. The couple sits before the sacred Adi Granth, a priest tells about the responsibilities of a married life and after that marriage hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib
is sung by the priest. In Muslim weddings, the entire celebrations continue for five days. It is known as Nikaah. It can take place either at the house of the bride or the groom. Law officer or a qazi presides over the entire nikaah ceremony. The common tradition about Indian weddings is that after the marriage of a couple, the bride has to live with the groom`s family and not with her parents anymore. It is the groom who is supposed to look after the bride for the entire life.
Marriages In Different Regions Of India
Each and every region of India has its rituals and traditions as far as weddings are concerned. Weddings of different regions of India differ in terms of rituals and rites including the post marital rituals. In India, weddings are considered as the bonding of not only two souls but also of two different families and their cultures. Indian religious weddings in different parts of the country follow their own norms and rituals. For instance, marriage ceremonies in every region of India have variations according to the customs of different states. In north India, weddings in states like Punjab
may have some similarities but it tremendously differ from the wedding customs of Jammu & Kashmir
. In eastern India, marriages of West Bengal
will vastly differ from the rituals of Orissa. In West Bengal, the basic rituals include welcoming of the groom, shubho dristi, ceremony of mala badal, saat paak and sampradhan. In eastern zone, Maharashtrian wedding will differ from Gujarati and Rajasthani weddings. In Maharashtra
, the pre-marital customs comprise Sakhar Puda, Kelvan, Simant Puja, Halad Chadavane and Seemaan puja. In south India too, the customs differ vastly from the rest of the country. For example, the pre-marriage customs in Tamil wedding include Panda Kaal Muhurtham, receiving the groom, vratham, pallikai thellichal and reading of lagna, etc. India has enormous cultures and ethos and that is why the marriage traditions of its states differ tremendously. But it is the spirit of weddings that binds two different people, their families and culture together.
The feasts, which are a grand part of this ceremony, also differ as per the different regions. Indian weddings remain incomplete songs, music, heavy jewelleries and lavish dresses. These are all basic necessities of marriages. There are six major classifications of Indian weddings. These are arranged marriages, arranged love marriages, love marriages, love- arranged marriages, inter-caste marriages and court marriages. Arranged marriages are the most prevalent category.
Marriage Laws in India
Indian law has legalised the bond of marriage by passing the Indian Marriage Acts. It is followed by the Hindus. Marriage laws in India
hold special significance as they provide a legal entity to the unification of two people. Muslims of India follows the Muslim Marriage Act. In India, marriage rules and regulations are different for different clans and religions. The different marriage acts meant for the Indian citizens are Hindu Marriage Acts, Christian Marriage Acts, Muslim Marriage Acts, Special Marriage Acts and Parsi Marriage Acts. Registration of weddings in India is mandatory.
Indian weddings have charming characteristics of their own. In this country, marriages display a mixture of the rich and vibrant ethnicity and linguistic diversity of India. Marriage is a sacred institution and is the mean through which a man and a woman enter into a relationship for performing the duties of spiritual growth and procreation.