Everything You Need to Know about Indian Weddings
Indian weddings are a phenomenon! Don’t believe for a second, though, that there’s just one kind of Indian wedding. Based on religion, region, culture, caste and much more, there are so many different kinds of weddings in this country. There are undoubtedly similarities that exist across kinds of wedding, but they’re unique in their diversity.
For someone who’s never been to an Indian wedding before, it can be overwhelming. Bright lights, grand decor, sparkling outfits, a lot of people (and we mean a lot!) and a huge amount of traditional food.
Since the majority of the Indian population is Hindu, let’s discuss traditional Indian Hindu Marriages. Though arranged marriages are still common, the times, they are a-changing. Even when the partners choose each other (also known as a ‘love marriage’), the wedding ceremony typically follows tradition.
Going way back, there have been different criteria for choosing a life partner. For example, the bride’s parents once looked for a groom based on the good deeds he did, the nature of his family, education, societal behaviour, etc.
Eventually, this evolved into matchmaking based on horoscopes. An astrologist revealed if the ‘stars’ of the couple ‘aligned’, this would make for a suitable marriage. You may be surprised to hear that traditional families still shortlist potential spouses for their children using astrology!
Who gets invited to these weddings?
If you attend an Indian wedding, you’ll notice that there seems to be no end to the number of people who attend. You’ve probably even wondered “How does one young couple know so many people?”
The truth is, they probably don’t. Wedding guests are a combination of friends, family and extended family.
How long do these weddings take place?
The length of weddings differs from culture to culture. Some cultures have wedding ceremonies taking place as long as ten days! Today, most have shrunk the schedule to a maximum span of three days. The focus of the wedding is a traditional, religious ceremony. There is also a reception, which is distinctly different from a Western reception. The couple stands on a stage in a banquet hall to receive guests, their gifts and blessings. Seating is casual but invariably pointed towards the stage for viewing.
The receptions are the most laidback of the three, offering a wider variety of food (and even alcohol, depending on the culture). It’s important to look at the invitation you received as it’ll give you specific instructions on which ceremony you’re invited to, and also if there’s a dress code.
Are the feasts vegetarian?
During the wedding ceremony itself, you’ll find a huge variety of food. Most Hindu weddings are 100% vegetarian, but this may vary based on region and culture. Muslim and Christian weddings will almost certainly serve meat.
Between the two, the reception is more likely to serve non-vegetarian food.
What do I wear?
Perhaps the most asked question about Indian weddings! It’s important to look ‘in place’ at a wedding and attire is a huge part of this.
For Women:Indian women typically wear traditional attire at weddings, including ‘salwar kameez’, ‘saris’ or ‘lehengas’. These are rich and vibrantly coloured. So don’t be afraid to wear bright colours, silks or shades of gold. Heavy jewellery is commonly worn, with South Indian weddings seeing a good amount of gold worn by women. However, Indians don’t particularly expect you to follow these rules – a simple dress with a shawl would work just fine. As a general rule, wear full trousers or long skirts. Bare legs are not typically advisable.
For Men:Indian men also typically wear traditional attire at weddings. ‘Kurta Pajama’ is the best attire for men to wear to any Indian wedding. Don’t be afraid to choose a bright colour. If you want to class it up, try a ‘sherwani’… the tuxedo of Indian suits! In South Indian weddings, men often wear a ‘lungi’ (a cloth that covers the man’s lower body). However, it’s pretty common to see men in shirts or t-shirts and trousers.
While it may be overwhelming, an Indian wedding is a cultural phenomenon. It’s the kind of event that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. You will end up seeing something you probably never experienced before.