India is a diverse country. Each part of the country has a different marriage ceremony and customs. In this article we will discuss exclusively the customs and traditions of North Indian weddings. In the olden days arranged marriages were most common in India. In these marriages the bride and the groom would only meet at the wedding ceremony. Meeting the bride and the groom before the wedding was considered very inauspicious.
Today the bride and the groom do meet before the marriage is fixed. They are allowed to talk to each other and then take a call. However, even today matching the horoscopes is considered very important before the marriage occurs. If the horoscopes do not match then the parents are advised not to go ahead.
Once the wedding is fixed an engagement is done. For this ceremony an auspicious day is selected. This is also called the roka ceremony. The family of the bride visits the groom’s family and similarly the groom’s family visits the bride’s family. Gifts are exchanged. As per the status of the family gifts are selected. These gifts range from jewellery, clothes and sweets.
After this it is considered that the marriage will happen and the date for the marriage is fixed. In traditional India guys and girls were not allowed to meet post this engagement but today the guys and girls can meet. Mostly there is a gap of six months to a year between the roka ceremony and the wedding.
Mind The Gap?
This gap is essential as weddings in India are grand celebrations and takes some time to arrange for them. After the wedding is fixed the arrangements start. That range from printing wedding cards to fixing the caterers. The task is huge for the girl’s family as the wedding always happens in the family of the girls. The boy’s side later throws a reception ceremony. Infact this feature is present in most Indian weddings irrespective of the region in the country.
Few days before the wedding the girls are told not to leave the house. They must stay at home and be very careful. A day before the wedding mahendi ceremony is arranged. Mahendi is applied on the hands of the bride. Along with the bride her cousins and sister’s also apply the mahendi. It is a ceremony that is customary in north India.
Mahendi is the symbol of marriage no one can imagine a marriage without mahendi being applied at the hands of the bride. Dance and music is also accompanied with this ceremony. This is also called Sangeet ceremony by some. The boy’s family also arranges for a sangeet that happens in their house. They call in DJ’s and also have alcohol served. The ceremonies are same but the venues are different. The aim of this ceremony is to enjoy and feel that there is a wedding in the family.
On the day of the wedding in the morning the haldi ceremony is arranged. The boy’s family applies the haldi paste on the boy and then carries the haldi to the girl’s house. The bowl of haldi is usually accompanied with gifts and sweets. The family members of the boy are given a warm welcome by the girl’s family. This haldi is applied on the girl and then she takes a bath. This ceremony usually happens in the morning itself. After this ceremony in the evening the actual marriage happens.
Arrival: The Groom
The boy’s family usually come to the venue of the wedding with a lot of pomp and show. They will be dancing all along the way. There are a lot of crackers busted and the atmosphere is grand. The groom is usually seated on a female horse that is white in colour. The groom will be dressed in a sherwani and will have a sehra to cover his face.
This sehra is tied to his head by his sisters. The sehra can be of different designs and shapes. Some grooms also prefer a car instead of a horse. After the barat reaches the house of the girl they are all given a huge welcome. The groom specially is greeted by his future mother in law. She does a Tilak and aarti of the groom welcoming him to the family. In some north Indian families the mother in law needs to pull the nose of the groom as a custom. This is more common in Rajastan. In some families it is a ritual that the in laws must wash the feet of the groom before the wedding begins.
There is a muhurath or a time that is set for the weddings. The pandit Ji will first call the groom and start with the pujas. After the initial puja is done the bride is called. The bride is usually accompanied by her sisters and friends. She will be dressed in a red lahenga or a saree. The bride will have to wear a lot of gold jewellery and must have her head covered.
The bride will have a floral garland around her neck that she will have to exchange with the groom. As soon as the girl reaches the mandap the jaimala happens (exchange of garlands). The friends of the groom will try to lift him so high that the girl finds it difficult to put the garland around his neck. Even the brothers of the girl will lift her so that she can manage to put the garland around the guy. This is just for fun that these activities are done.
After the jaimala the boy and the girl sit in the mandap. The parents of the girl are called in to do the kanyadaan. In this ceremony the parents give off the hand of their daughter to the boy. This is a very emotional and significant custom. After that the wedding ceremony commences.
The pheras happen. There are seven pheras that is taken around the sacred fire in Hindu customs to solemnise the marriage. Each phera has a meaning and a significance of its own. At the end of these pheras the groom must apply sindoor on the forehead of his bride.
This is custom that is common across north India. In some parts of North India the mangalsutra is also equally important. Mangalsutra is a chain that is made of black and yellow beads it is a symbol of marriage and all North Indian Hindu women must have it on. Once this is done the marriage is considered complete.
Food is served after the wedding is over. The bidai follows. Bidai is the ceremony where the bride bids goodbye to her parents and moves in to her new family. The custom is to throw rice and coin behind as she leaves the house. The girl should not turn back or come back to the house immediately once the bidai happens.
These are some of the customs that are commonly followed in north Indian weddings. We hope that this article will help you to understand the North Indian marriages better.