Indian wedding celebrations are among the world’s most opulent. Filled with guests wearing vibrant colors and jewelry to the ceremonies and rituals that can go on for about three days. On the first day, the new couple performs the Ganesh puja ceremony, where they honor Lord Ganesh, an important Hindu deity. It’s the start to the wedding festivities because worshipping Lord Ganesh ensures a smooth wedding, and a prosperous future as a couple. To prepare for the ceremony the family decorates an alter with Lord Ganesh’s idol, favorite snacks and flowers, incense, and symbolic items. Only the couple, the bridal party, and close family member witness the Ganesh puja blessing.
On the second day of an Indian wedding celebration, the women of the family perform the mehndi ceremony. Popularly known as henna, mehndi is a paste used to create beautiful, traditional designs on women’s arms, hands, and feet. The ceremony is a way for her female friends and family to wish her good health and prosperity in her marriage – mehndi is also a natural herbal ingredient and has a cooling sensation meant to soothe the bride’s nerves.
A few nights before the wedding, Indian couples hold a sangeet. It’s essentially a party for both sides of the family to get to know each other; guests perform traditional songs and choreographed dance in celebration of the wedding.
The final day is the main ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Though the third day’s itinerary might sound familiar, an Indian ceremony is a bit different than a Western one. To begin, the groom is the one with the big entrance. In the baraat, the grooms enters the ceremony on a decorated white horse. Grooms often use decorated luxury cars or even elephants in place of the white horse. His procession is a party – if there aren’t traditional drums being played, a DJ is playing music while guests celebrate the groom going to meet his bride. The ending of the ceremony comes after the grooms streaks a red powder on his wife’s forehead and ties a black necklace on her. Both symbolize her new status as a married woman. If you didn’t know already, Indian weddings are a huge party and the reception is no exception. There’s lots of folk dancing and a huge variety of food. If you’re a guest at an Indian wedding, be sure to check your invitation for information about which of these days you’ve been invited to. Oftentimes, several of the days are family only.
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