The 5 Best Parts Of A Desi Wedding

The 5 Best Parts Of A Desi Wedding

1. Mendhi

A few days before the wedding, the bride gets her mendhi done. If you are a white girl who has been to a festival, then you know how this works: a brown paste is applied in intricate, swirling designs from elbows to fingertips and, often from ankles to toes. After a few hours, the dried paste is scraped off, leaving an orangey-brown stain that will last about a week. All the women in the bride’s family join in, getting smaller, but just as beautiful designs, and spending time together before the big night–kind of like a less-scandalous bachelorette party. The tradition dates back to when there was no AC, and the cool paste applied to the bride’s pressure points would help calm her down.

2. Sangeet

Before the wedding, the bride and groom throw a big dance party with appetizers and cocktails usually served. Families will give speeches, and sometimes perform choreographed dances for everyone. A sangeet is basically like a reception, but before the wedding. This is not to say that there is no reception after the wedding–there is that too. I am heavily in favor of any situation where there are twice as many parties.

3. Baraat: The Groom’s Wedding Procession
On the day of the ceremony, unlike at Western weddings, the bride waits at the altar and the groom approaches her. But he does so in style– he and his family start a few hundred yards away from the venue and approach dancing to loud music provided by drummers and a car with speakers in it. The groom rides a white horse (or sometimes elephant!), and the crowd–from the oldest aunties to the youngest children–dances towards the setting of the ceremony. This represents how happy and joyful the groom’s family is to gain a new family member. The bride’s family, meanwhile, watches on solemnly (which can be difficult when the dhol players get in the zone) because they were unlikely to ever see her again after the wedding. Nowadays, of course, this is all symbolic.

3. Baraat: The Groom’s Wedding Procession

On the day of the ceremony, unlike at Western weddings, the bride waits at the altar and the groom approaches her. But he does so in style– he and his family start a few hundred yards away from the venue and approach dancing to loud music provided by drummers and a car with speakers in it. The groom rides a white horse (or sometimes elephant!), and the crowd–from the oldest aunties to the youngest children–dances towards the setting of the ceremony. This represents how happy and joyful the groom’s family is to gain a new family member. The bride’s family, meanwhile, watches on solemnly (which can be difficult when the dhol players get in the zone) because they were unlikely to ever see her again after the wedding. Nowadays, of course, this is all symbolic.

4. Milni: The Union of Two Families

After the baraat, but before the actual wedding ceremony, the important male members of each family gather, and matching pairs welcome each other. The bride’s brother and the groom’s brother, the brides father and the groom’s father (and etc–Indian families are huge) symbolize that this wedding is the union of two families, not just of two people with a necklace and a hug. To say that this is adorable is an understatement– the pink turbans that the bride’s family members wear are just the cherry on top.

5. No White

Perhaps my favorite thing about Indian weddings is how people eschew the color white. My dad even told me that I wasn’t allowed to wear it on my wedding day. In the West, white means purity and virginity, which is why it’s used for a bride’s wedding dress, even though those meanings are hardly true anymore. But in India, white is a non-color, lacking vibrance and intensity, and it’s reserved for widows. Red and gold are traditional for the bride, and it’s not tacky for invitees to show up in red as well, unlike how Western guests will avoid white. Photos of the audience are practically technicolor; the words lurid and garish cease to exist at Indian weddings.

These are only a fraction of the dozens of special ceremonies and traditions that make up a desi wedding, and of course, they vary from the North to South, and among different religions (and sects of religions). The weeks of colorful and lively celebration that I’ve experienced will always make Western weddings seem pale in comparison.

Content Source: odyssey

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