Marriage is a sacred bond that unites two souls into one. There are many shades to this special occasion, like a kaleidoscope reflecting different patterns of color. Two people profess their love and start their journey together. The engagement brings together not only the bride and groom, but their families.
He comes close to her and puts a wedding ring on the fourth finger of her left hand. There is a blood vessel on this finger that leads directly to the chest, symbolic of touching the heart. Everyone watches as the priest puts tilak on the groom’s forehead, often with sandalwood paste or colored minerals. The tilak keeps away the evil eye.
Traditional marriage songs fill the air as a bunch of women sing and dance to the dholak (North Indian drum). The hall is decorated with traditional ethnic colors like red, maroon, orange and golden glitter. Beautiful drapes rich in embroidery and mirror work give a personal touch to this event. There are no men allowed as she shares this moment with those who are closest to her.
Someone puts turmeric paste on her body. This acts as a purifying agent, symbolizing fertility. She bathes herself in water and washes away any evil influences on her and her partner. It is time for the mehndi. Intricate motifs hide her husband’s name, as the henna artist moves down her arms onto her hands. The groom will try to find his name amidst the swirls of color. The darker and deeper the stains, the more love she’ll get from her husband. Mehndi is one of the traditional sixteen adornments of the bride.
The bride’s hair is accentuated with flowers. She has a glow to her aura as she puts on her wedding dress, usually red in color. This signifies fertility. Eyeliner or kajal enhances her beauty along with ornaments such as mang tika on the forehead, all made of gold. A bindi or red dot symbolizes dedication towards her husband. She wears a nose ring on her left nostril and smiles. A necklace symbolizes prosperity as she takes out matching earrings. They are heavy, hanging loose from her ears. She then grabs her armlets, worn on the upper part of her arms. Bangles, signifying the long life of her husband cover her wrists. She wears eight rings on her fingers, all attached with a central flower or medallion that covers the upper part of her hand. A waistband accentuates her curves. You can see her toe ring as her anklets ring with each step that she takes.
On the other side of the veil the groom’s sister in law lines the boy’s eyes with kaajal. This protects him from jealous looks. The groom is accompanied by family and friends on a decorated horse. The barat, all the people who come in the procession, dance to the tunes of song and music played by the band. The groom wears a turban- off of which flowers hang and cover his face. Around his neck he wears a garland of Indian currency, signifying his prosperity.
Both families meet and more flower garlands are exchanged. The bridegroom’s relatives give a token of good luck to the groom’s family as someone sprinkles rose water on them. Shabads are sung and the ardaas is recited as the procession enters the Gurdwara. The Ghoongat, or cloth curtain is removed from the bride’s face. JaiMala is the beginning of the marriage rituals. Bride and groom exchange garlands, signifying their acceptance of each other as lifelong companions. They then walk to the holy ground.
The wedding canopy is an altar made of earth and bamboo plant. The earth symbolizes the blessings of mother earth. The bamboo plant flowers once in its lifetime, therefore it signifies that this couple should marry once. The four pillars represent the parents and their role in raising the bride and groom.
The Guru Granth Sahib (the sacred Sikh text ) is a divine witness to this union. The bride holds back tears, as the audience watches. Her parents give her away. This is considered to be one of the holiest and most valuable sacrifices that they could ever make. A sacred knot is tied with the outer garments of the bride and groom. Like the holding of hands, this knot symbolizes the couple’s love and everlasting bond.
The priest continues, as anticipation lingers.
Time for the lavan. This is the actual binding part of the ceremony. In Sikhism, the bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. In Hinduism, the bride and groom go around the sacred fire and water vessels, representing the holy rivers. They make four circles and vow to follow the four aims of life: dharma( religion), artha ( wealth), kama ( love and family ), and moksa ( salvation). The groom walks in the front, with the sword in his hand. After the four rounds, the bride officially becomes his wife.
Next, red colored powder is placed by the groom onto the parting of his bride’s hair. This symbolizes the fact that he brings color into the bride’s life. He then ties a necklace of black beads on the bride’s neck. This mangalsutra stands for good fortune, and should never be removed. The newlyweds seek the blessings of the elders by bowing to their feet. Flowers and rice grains are showered on them. As the grain does not split after cooking, so the marriage will not split if the bond of love is strong. Karah prasad or blessed sweet pudding is then given to the guests.
The bride’s father gives her hand to her husband, telling him to take care of her. She starts to cry. As the bride steps out of her house, you can see her throwing back five handfuls of rice over her head. This custom signifies that the bride is paying back or returning whatever her parents have given her. She wishes for prosperity to flourish in the house she is leaving behind. Husband and wife get into the car. The bride’s brothers and cousins push the car from behind, giving them a push ahead in their new life. As the car leaves, money is thrown onto the street to discard the evil.
Their reception is next. The couple enters the hall. This is their first public appearance as husband and wife.
Bright bold color schemes and elaborate outfits continue the trend. This sweet and savory event ends with spiced up dishes and lavish entertainment. Bride and groom dance the night away, moving to the beat. They coordinate their steps and look forward to their future together.
The Outdoor Indian Wedding
Spring is just around the corner and you know what that means…weddings. Nothing says romance like a picturesque outdoor wedding on your special day. Outdoor weddings are unique, fun and allow you to savor in the beauty and the simplicity that ‘Mother Nature’ has to offer. Nowadays, more couples are choosing to have their wedding outdoors versus a Mandar or Gurdwara because of possible restrictions that are imposed within a religious venue. With a temple wedding, one needs to primarily stick to more conservative themes that are traditional and time honoured. With an outdoor wedding, you have a lot more freedom and you can pretty much call all the shots, with regards to the themes you would want to have for the wedding. Indian weddings are bigger and better these days as more and more venues are starting to cater to the Indian wedding trend. Here’s a look at some of the top outdoor venues around the globe which could make your special day, even more memorable.
The Garden/Park Wedding
One of the advantages of having your wedding in a garden or park is that you don’t have to put very much time or energy into decorating. The naturalistic setting brings in a sense of soft elegance and informality to your wedding—weather permitting. Not to mention, it can be pretty reasonable (with a sensible permit fee for parks). It also makes for great photo opportunities. This type of outdoor wedding venue is perfect for those looking to have a more simplistic style for their marriage ceremony.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is often described as an “oasis of tranquility and beauty.” Built in 1981, the garden is a non-profit organization, made to preserve and bridge the cultural gap between the Chinese and Western culture and to promote the Chinese culture within the local community. The design of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is based on the harmony of four main elements: rock, water, plants, and architecture. It offers three courtyard settings: Hall of One Hundred Rivers & Courtyard (seats up to 160 guests), Scholar’s Study & Courtyard (seats up to 60 guests) and the Magnolia Courtyard (seats up to 20 guests). It is perfect for those seeking a more intimate affair. For more info, visit: www.vancouverchinesegarden.com.
Niagara Parks Weddings, Niagara Falls, ON
What could be more enchanting than having your wedding day take place with the backdrop of the Niagara Falls? With eight different outdoor venue options and ten reception venues, Niagara Falls Park is the perfect accommodation for your destination wedding. Some top wedding venues within the park include: The Botanical Garden Willow Pond, The Butterfly Conservatory and Mather Arch Park .The Botanical Garden Willow Pond, a pond situated among willow trees, can accommodate up to 250 guests for $300.00 CDN. The Butterfly Conservatory—a venue filled with colourful plants and free-flying butterflies has a fee of $600.00 CDN, but it is only available with special permission. Mather Arch Park—set with luscious gardens and stunning architecture, can accommodate over 200 guests and provides the perfect landscape for a mandap (temporary ceremony canopy). These venues have an accomplished team of chefs who are more than willing to tailor to your traditional Indian food menu or are also open to working with your own personal chefs. The Niagara Falls Park is an ideal place for any outdoor wedding, with lots of services and an experienced team of staff to meet your wedding needs. For more info, visit: www.niagaraparksweddings.ca.
Langham Huntington Hotel, Pasadena California
Situated on 23 acres overlooking the pristine suburbs of San Marino, this hotel prides itself in holding the legendary traditions of service and luxury set by the original Langham grand hotel of 1865. The hotel accommodates any wedding style, from intimate to extravagant and offers three outdoor wedding venues. The Japanese Garden provides the perfect setting for a smaller, intimate wedding by means of terraced ponds that are fed by gently flowing waterfalls. Guests are situated on the landscape adjacent to a pond, while the bride can make her entrance walking over the wooden bridge—symbolizing her crossing over into a ‘new life.’ The Courtyard is another beautiful option for any outdoor wedding. Surrounded by pear blossom trees, lush gardens and a tranquil pond, this outdoor venue is perfect for those seeking an ‘oasis feel.’ Pure elegance is something that best describes The Horseshoe Garden. The setting for this venue, takes you back to the golden age of California with perfectly manicured lawns and palm-studded slopes. The groom can arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, while the bride makes her grand entrance down the spectacular stone staircase into the garden. Whether small or large, you can have your mandap set-up on the open garden, with the beautiful backdrop of the hotel. For more information, visit: www.pasadena.langhamhotels.com.
Please note: If you’re looking to do a pre-wedding mehndi/henna party, contact LA Henna to provide mendhi services for all kinds of events, in the Los Angeles area. Their team consists of four highly trained and accomplished henna artists whom have provided services for such celebrities as: Halle Berry, Jessica Simpson, Marisa Tomei and Jessica Biel. For more information, visit: www.lahenna.com.