Indian Wedding Tradition Guide

by Justine Lorelle Blanchard

Indian wedding customs have a long history, so they'll add rich meaning -- and fun memories -- to your wedding. These are some popular cultural wedding traditions you may want to include in your celebration.

Lucky Day

In India, the couple doesn't choose their wedding date. Instead, a knowledgeable family member, fortune-teller, priest, or astrologist figures out the most auspicious day by considering factors like birthdays and phases of the moon. Should the date fall on a weekday, many couples in the US will hold two wedding ceremonies -- one with close family on the actual day and a larger celebration that weekend.

Color Code

Once you've settled on the perfect date, follow in the footsteps of many Asian cultures and send out wedding invitations in red and gold. The combination of these two bold colors represents luck and wealth, while also creating a dramatic color palette.

Painting Party

Mehndi night usually happens two or three days before an Indian wedding ceremony. During this ritual, an artist uses henna to draw on the skin of female friends and family members. They also paint the bride's hands and feet to protect them from evil. The deeper the color, the more good luck the couple will have. Typically, the designs last a couple of weeks.

Flower Power

Indian brides and grooms exchange floral garlands and wear them throughout the ceremony, representing their acceptance of each other as husband and wife. In another custom, the groom's brother sprinkles flower petals over the couple to protect them from evil.

Burn, Baby, Burn

In Hindu ceremonies, a fire is lit, and the officiant gives thanks to the fire god, Agni. The couple will also take their seven steps around this fire in a Hindu tradition called saptapadi. Then, they'll say a prayer to seal the bond of their marriage.

All Tied Up

Another Hindu ritual, the hasthagranthi, involves tying the couple's hands together with string so they literally “tie the knot." This act is followed by Shakhohar, when the parents place their hands on the couple's to represent their union as a family. Then the couple is wrapped together in a scarf to show their unity as husband and wife in a custom called gathbandhan.

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