Indian wedding traditions you should know

Indian weddings are often complex and symbolic as traditions vary by region. Here are five Indian wedding traditions you should know.
Bride and groom wearing traditional indian wedding attire
Photo credit: @shaan

An Indian wedding is often complex and chaotic. A wedding spans many days and celebrates different events, each symbolic in its own way. Indian wedding traditions can vary by region, religion, and even by the local community. For further insight into how diverse Indian wedding traditions are, here are five elements you might find at an Indian wedding.

The Goan Roce 

Traditional Indian wedding Goan Roce ceremony

Hailing from Goa, India, the Roce is a Christian-Konkan wedding tradition. It doubles down as both; the name of the event as well as the coconut and water-fused paste that is adorned and applied to the face and body of the bride and groom and their wedding parties.

This tradition signifies the cleansing of the soul and washing away of sins before marriage. Usually, this happens separately, as it also marks the last night the couple can see or talk to each other, until after the wedding. 

In order of seniority, family members, followed by extended family and friends, approach the bride or groom and pray over them while applying the roce. This often becomes akin to a food fight when prankster family members break spoiled eggs over the bride or husband-to-be’s head. Cheekily, the wedding party intentionally leaves eggs to rot just for this occasion. 

The South Indian Bride’s Look

From Kerala, South India – a Malayali bride is a vision in white and gold. The bride wears in a white Kasavu saree – a local handloom cloth woven. She is also adorned with gold-threaded borders, heavy gold necklaces, bangles, and bracelets. To finish off the look, the bride usually keeps the hair style simple, with jasmine flowers curled up into a neat hair bun to complete the look. 

However, modern brides are moving away from this minimalist approach. Rather Malayali brides are experimenting with the colour of the Kasavu and some are opting for bolder colours like red or crimson. 

Malayali bride wearing tradition wedding outfit
Photo credit: Puja Guha

The Songs of Assam 

From the North Eastern state of Assam, is the biya geet or biya naam which translated means wedding songs. These traditional folk songs sung at an Assamese Hindu wedding. These songs usually depict epic tales of mythological marriage scenes from the Bhagwad Gita.

They’re equal parts spiritual blessing for the couple’s married life as well as a passionate display of storytelling and melody.  Traditionally, only women sing these songs. 

The Marriage Contract 

Traditional Indian wedding ring
Photo credit: @dk121

For an Indian-Muslim wedding, there’s a standard sequence of three activities; firstly, the mehr, a symbolic gift presentation from the groom to the bride. For modern weddings, this usually entails the bride’s engagement ring. Secondly, the couple recite the words “qubool hai” which roughly translates to “I accept” as an agreement of matrimony. Lastly, the couple signs the nikah-nama, a marriage contract. Both parties sign the contract – officiating their marriage in Islam and lays down the duties of both partners in the marriage. After this, the couple is now officially married! 

The Roka and Thaka

Hailing from the North-West, this Sikh Punjabi tradition signifies the joining and meeting of two families. Often, the bride and groom aren’t present at these events as they’re more for the melding of the two families. Traditionally, these events are very intimate and family-oriented. 

The Roka opens the wedding festivities, with the bride’s family bringing their blessings and gifts for the groom’s family. The groom’s family reciprocates by bringing their gifts and blessings to the bride’s family at a later date, known as the Thaka. 

While Indian wedding traditions have many specific, detailed customs, they’re also fun, loud and big and are equal parts traditional, fashionable and an all-out party bonanza! 

See alsoFilipino wedding traditions you should know

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