The “Thirumanam”, which is the official ceremony, finally takes place. Everybody is witness to the creation of a new couple and for a happy occasion like this, happy colors invade the space. Our typical black and white suites and grey dresses could get inspired from this Indian aesthetic. The bride will wear a beautiful red and golden Sari with golden jewels attached to it. The groom will usually wear a white and golden “Sherwani”, which looks like a royal coat.
Just like in our typical European weddings, the groom will enter first and wait for the bride. Sometimes, and don’t be surprised if this happens in an Indian wedding you’re attending, the groom’s shoes will be “stolen“ while he enters the ceremony and he will have to pay to get them back! Once he’s wearing both his shoes and is standing straight, the bride will make her entrance. Here, the bride is not only accompanied by her father, but escorted by all the important man of her family. All around her you will see her brothers, her father and sometimes her uncles. And they walk her down the aisle, carrying her in many occasions, under a “Chaadar”, which is a sheet held on top of her head. It could be made of her mother’s wedding Sari, as a way to give her daughter her blessing and good wishes, or it could be a sheet of flowers to show that the bride was raised with love and affection.
The ceremony can now begin, and it will last a few hours. So many beautiful rituals will take place, creating an unbreakable bond between the bride and the groom, but also between their families. Depending on the regions, there can be different traditions. The list is never ending but some traditions are too beautiful not to mention, and very easy to include in a non-traditional, unconventional French wedding.
Sometimes they start with the “Jaimala”. They exchange colorful flower garlands, symbolizing their mutual acceptance towards each other and their marriage. This ritual is what marks a Hindu marriage and everything it symbolizes.
We can also witness the magical “Gath Bandham” ritual which will create an eternal connection uniting these two separate individuals, turning them into one. A scarf will be placed upon the groom and the bride, connecting his shoulders to her hips, and that way representing unity, fidelity and the promise of loving each other forever.
Still tight up by the scarf, they will turn 4 times around a fire. This is a symbol of the four goals in life:
- Spiritual Salvation
- Religious duty
The couple will also have to go through seven steps while reciting a prayer for each step, one for food, one for strength, one for wealth, one for joy, one for kids, one for livestock and finally one for devotion. Here, they will express their intentions and wishes towards each other, making this officially unbreakable and everlasting. The happy couple is married!!
But the ceremony is not over yet. The parents now have to bless them by throwing some water at them: they can now begin their lives together. Even though they are now declared man and wife, they may not kiss each other. This is definitely not something I will include in my french wedding!
Well, even if these traditions let us feel a bit closer to this culture, it’s still only a glimpse of what an Indian wedding actually looks like. They are grandiose events where all the colors in the world get mixed up with all the scents and smells we could ever imagine, and even more. Being part of Indian wedding feels like stepping into a different world where all your senses get shaken up.