Indian Wedding Ceremony

couple getting married and hold hands

What happens during an Indian Wedding?

There is a wide variety of cultural customs and traditions from other countries can be irritating to Westerners. Anyone who has ever seen an Indian wedding knows that following certain rules and rituals is important there.

The wedding season in India is from January to February and anyone who only thinks of a simple ceremony and a subsequent honeymoon at a wedding has never attended a Hindu wedding. For Indians, marriage is considered the high point of life and a special kind of social event, so that the ceremony and celebration cannot be lavish and pompous enough. It is therefore not surprising that an Indian wedding can take several days to complete.

The wedding season in India runs from December to February – Indian weddings usually take place in this time frame. Indian weddings are still very traditional, and it is particularly important for Indians that the many wedding customs are followed. Most of these customs come from Hinduism. In Hinduism, marriage is a holy sacrament in which two separate people merge into one person.

But even if a wedding is especially important for the Indians for religious reasons, there is another reason why they attach such great importance to the wedding. Because the Indian wedding is the perfect opportunity for the bridal family to show everyone their prosperity. Traditionally, the bride family organizes the wedding ceremony as well as the subsequent wedding party.

The costs for an Indian wedding are not insignificant – there are usually between 300 and 1000 guests present. For this reason, it is customary in India to start saving for the wedding as a child – there are even extra “wedding savings plans”, which are becoming increasingly popular.

How are Indian Weddings Celebrated?

The Indian wedding is very traditional to this day and most wedding customs come from Hinduism. Their marriage is considered a holy sacrament that allows two people to become one.

An Indian wedding is not only about the bride and groom saying yes to each other, it also offers an excellent opportunity to publicly demonstrate the wealth of the bride family, which according to tradition must organize the wedding ceremony and the subsequent celebration.

The Ceremony Process

There are many different wedding rituals and traditions in India, but the most common type today is the so-called Brahman wedding, which is very complex and often lasts several days due to its numerous customs, such as the purification rites.

The wedding takes place in the courtyard of the bride family. A priest recites various Sanskrit mantras, which are repeated by the participants and then the father of the bride hands his daughter over to the groom in a ceremony.

After that, women tie the bride’s sari with the end of the groom’s shawl, symbolizing the marital union. The climax of the ceremony is the saptapadi, during which a fire is lit, around which the couple has to dance around seven times.

At the seventh orbit, the marriage is then considered to be legally binding. Now there is not only an intoxicating celebration, but also another fixed ritual that belongs to an Indian wedding: the bride’s parents cry loudly for hours at the loss of their daughter.

Wedding Customs and Rituals

There are many rituals and traditions involved in Indian weddings. The most widespread nowadays is the so-called Brahman wedding, which is very complex due to the purification rites and a variety of other customs and therefore often lasts several days.

In the course of the wedding, the priest recites various Sanskrit mantras, which have to be repeated by those involved, for example the bride and groom.

The highlight of the wedding ceremony is the saptapadi, where a fire is lit, around which the bride and groom have to dance together seven times. When they circled the fire for the seventh time, their marriage is considered final.

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Rituals and Customs Before the Wedding

Setting the Date for the Wedding Ceremony

To find the right time for the wedding, the horoscopes of the bride and groom are consulted. This calculates the best time for the Indian wedding.

But the horoscope is usually used to check again whether the two are really meant for each other. Only when this turns out to be positive, nothing stands in the way of the marriage.


Mehndi Ceremony All women of the bride’s family meet at the beginning of the celebrations, around a day or two before the actual wedding, in their family home. On this day the bride receives her mehndi. To do this, the female family members of the bride decorate her entire arms, hands, lower legs and feet with henna in a lengthy procedure.

In some families it is also customary to incorporate the groom’s first name or first letter into the henna decoration. The groom then has the task of finding this out. If he can do that, it is considered a good omen for the marriage.

After painting, the body jewelry must dry thoroughly, because it is said that the darker the mehndi, the more the groom loves his bride and the more affectionate the relationship with the future mother-in-law will be. Once the paint has dried enough, it is washed off. The henna will now stay on the body for several weeks. The henna is not only used as a body ornament, but is also supposed to bring happiness to the bride after her wedding – traditionally the newly married woman only has to start housework when the mehndi has faded.

Every other woman present also receives a henna tattoo. In contrast to the ornamentation of the bride, these are very simple and plain.

Rasam of Haldi: Purification Ceremony

The day before the actual wedding ceremony, the bride and groom usually spend separately with their respective families. Since the wedding is the most important day in life, her appearance is extremely important to the bride.

For this reason, the Rasam of Haldi is carried out, as it gives the bride a beautiful, shiny complexion. Because the medicinal plant turmeric works against skin problems and gives the complexion a golden, beautiful note.

A pasta is made from turmeric powder, sandalwood powder and oil or milk. All family members apply this paste to the legs, arms and face of the bride and groom.


The purpose of the paste is not only to beautify the bride and groom, but also to protect the couple from evil spirits. The ritual is musically accompanied by the sounds of drums and rattles as well as traditional chants and dances. In addition, this ritual is a sign of love, which should grow after the wedding.

Wedding Attire and Outfits

On the morning of the actual wedding, there is a lot of hustle and bustle in the bride’s house. This is how she is styled and made up for hours.

In India, the bride does not wear a white dress to the wedding, but instead a red sari – because in India red is considered the color of happiness. The sari is the typical wedding dress in India and is either bought new or inherited from the mother. It is made of a heavy material and is richly embroidered and decorated.

As an alternative to the sari, many Indian brides opt for a lengha, which consists of a blouse (choli), a skirt and a long scarf (dupatta). This is much easier to wear than the heavy saree and yet just as festive. Because the lengha is also richly decorated with embroidery and pearls.

Paalikai: Sow the Seeds

Paalikai is a fertility ritual. Paalikai refers to clay vessels that are traditionally filled. Bael leaves and Harili grass are distributed on the bottom of the clay pots. Then Sumangalis, married women, sow nine different types of vegetables in the clay pots.

When the wedding celebrations are over, the sprouted seedlings are put into a lake or river. This ritual is intended to lead to a healthy life and healthy offspring, for blessings are requested from the eight directions and the protective angels.

Vratham: Holy Vows

The Vratham is performed before the actual wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom are separate from each other.

The bridegroom conjures up various gods such as Agni, Chandra, Soma and Indra. He then prepares to begin a new phase of life soon – as grihasta, i.e., head of the household. Because he now has to say goodbye to his celibate bachelor life, the Brahmacharya.

The bride, on the other hand, knots the sacred thread, called kappu, on her wrist in the course of the vratham. This is supposed to symbolize a kind of protective shield and drive away the evil spirits.

Baraat: Guiding the Groom To the Wedding

Traditionally, the groom is brought to his wedding ceremony on a decorated horse or even an elephant. Nowadays, however, it is more common to use decorated cars as a means of transport.

Usually, the groom makes his way to the bride’s house on the wedding day. He is accompanied by relatives and friends who make music loudly, sing and dance. When he arrives at the bride’s house, he is first greeted with a ritual drink, which consists of yogurt and honey, among other things.

Rituals and Customs During the Wedding Ceremony

The actual wedding ceremony usually takes place in a marquee or a festival hall. In the middle of this is a splendid pavilion where the priest awaits the bride and groom. There is also a small fireplace around which the bride and groom, the families of the bride and groom and the priest sit around.

Vara Satkaarah

First, the groom and his groomsmen are received at the entrance. The priest now says some mantras, i.e., prayers. The mother of the bride also blesses the groom with the help of tumeric and vermilion powder and rice.


This custom denotes a blessing of light of the Hindu faith for the bridegroom. For this purpose, a piece of cloth that has been soaked in ghee is ignited in a bowl. This bowl is then given to the gods on the altar of the temple.

At the wedding ceremony, Aarti is used to ensure that the bride’s family and friends welcome the groom and his family in the form of the blessing of light.

Madhuparka Ceremony

Now the bridegroom is received at the altar. In addition, he receives gifts from the bride’s father.

Ganesh Puja and Sankalpam

In Hinduism, it is a tradition to worship Ganesh or Ganapathi, the elephant-headed, supreme god that exists in Hinduism, before every spiritual event. The purpose of this is to keep obstacles away.

The worship of Ganesh serves to clear the mind and to be able to carry out the next courses of action successfully. The Ganapathie Puja is a special prayer that is only said at Hindu weddings.

In addition, in this step, the groom also calls the nine planets to ask them all for their blessings on the marriage of the two.

Vara Puja & Kanyadan

In this ritual, cooked rice is formed into mounds, then swiveled in circular movements and then thrown away in order to reconcile the evil spirits.

Now it is time for the father to hand over his daughter, who is sitting on her father’s lap, to the bridegroom. During this time, sacred mantras are spoken.

The bride gets a ring, which was woven from the sacred Kusha grass or Darbha, placed on her head. In addition, a golden chain, Mangalustra, which is called Thaali, is placed over it.

In addition, the bride’s father puts the hands of the bride and groom together over a jug. Then he wraps his hands in a red cloth and a garland of flowers. Then he blesses them with water, which at best comes from the river Ganges.

In addition, a mantra is sung, which translated means something like: “May this gold double your wealth. May this water purify your married life and let your success grow. ” The bride’s father prays for God’s help and calls out the name of Ganesha and the name of Kamas, who is the god of love.

Now it is customary for the groom to assure the bride’s father three times in total that he will be the bride’s companion forever, not only in good but also in bad days and not only in this life but also afterwards.


Indian groom dressed in white sherwani and red hat with stunning bride in red lehenga

During this ritual, the bride and groom give each other jaggery, i.e. unrefined raw sugar, as well as cumin seeds. This is supposed to activate the highest energy, since according to Hinduism the center of the head is the main energy point of the body and thus also the place of the supreme god.

Mangalya Dharana

This wedding tradition prescribes that the groom ties the so-called Mangal Sutra, which is a blessed and therefore lucky thread, around the bride’s neck. He has to make three knots in the thread. These three knots symbolize the blessing of the three holy Hindu gods: Maheshwara, Vishnu and Brahma.

As he ties the knot, the groom says something like: “I will marry you with this ornament in support of my life. We will both be friends and together we will accomplish the four goals of life, Kaama (family and love), Artha (wealth), Moksha (spiritual awareness) and Dharna (righteousness). “


The Vivah-Homa is a sacred fire ceremony. This serves to dispel all doubts so that the wedding ceremony can be carried out in a spiritual and pure atmosphere.


Now the groom takes the bride’s right hand in his left hand. In doing so, he accepts her as his rightful wife.

Shila Arohan

The mother of the bride helps her daughter to step on a stone slab next to the fire. She gives her valuable advice for her new life as a wife.

Laja-Homah: The Wedding Fire

The wedding fire represents not only the sanctity of the ceremony, but also the divine best man. The bride makes an offering in the fire: dried grain, called Laya Homa, and puffed rice, which are supposed to provide prosperity. The sacrifice of food should also ensure a long life for the man. This is what the woman does while holding her hand over the groom’s hand.

Now the bride looks at her bridegroom and says, “I put this grain in the fire. May it bring me health and unite you with me. Let Agni listen to both of us. ” As the bride speaks the words, a cousin of the bride bows her hand to make the offering fall into the fire. He says: “This woman here, who is throwing the grain in the fire, prays: Bless my husband. May my relatives always fare well too. “

Parikrama / Pradakshina / Mangal Fera

Then the bride and groom walk around the fire seven times, called Agni Parinayai – seven is an important number in Hinduism. While the two walks around the fire, they make offerings in it. They also touch each other’s hearts, praying that their spirits and hearts will be united. In addition, the two perform Vedic hymns for the gods in the form of intercessions, which are supposed to bring them loyalty, happiness and wealth.

Note: According to Indian Law, the Marriage is legalized when going around the fire.

Saptapadi: The Ritual of the Seven Steps

The wedding knot is tied at the Saptapadi. To do this, the bride’s sari and the groom’s shawl are knotted together. This symbolizes the marital bond – the bride and groom are now forever linked.

The Seven Steps ritual is one of the most important things in the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom walk seven steps around the fire and pray for a blessing. Below are the seven vows or petitions that symbolize the seven steps:

May God Guide Us So That We Can:

1. Achieve just prosperity,
2. Take care of and protect our household,
3. To find mutual respect and love as well as satisfaction,
4. Develop mental and physical strength,
5. Achieve long life and self-control,
6. Have good and healthy children and
7. Be loyal, honest, and lifelong companions for one another.

The ceremony ends with the two praying that they will be united for a lifetime. When the prayer is said, the bride and groom are declared husband and wife.

To do this, the bridegroom puts his hand on the bride’s heart and says something like: “I keep your heart in serving comradeship. My mind follows your mind and mine follows yours. You have been connected to me by God, Lord of all creatures. “