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Traditional Indian Wedding Celebrations | Popular Indian Marriage Rituals

Updated on March 15, 2016

Indian weddings are bright, colourful and rich in traditions and celebrations and also beautiful wedding dresses. The weddings may even take place over several days of celebrations and ceremonies.

India is a country of great diversity with people speaking many different languages and following different religions, traditions and cultures. Even the dressing styles are mostly regional and can be different across different parts of the country.

When it comes to the weddings, the ceremonies and celebrations vary with religions and the regions. For example, in North India it is common to have the wedding celebrations extend over several days and rich with traditional music, dance and other programmes. Whereas in South India, mostly the weddings are a matter of one or two days celebrations including the wedding reception. Whatever the differences are, all the Indian weddings are rich in colours and celebrations of its own.

Let us see the importance of colours in Indian weddings and also some interesting wedding traditions.

Indian Wedding
Indian Wedding | Source

Red Is Not Just A Colour

Red is not just a colour when it comes to the Indian weddings. It has much significant meanings associated with Indian marriages. Red symbolizes strength, desire, passion, love and marital bliss, in Indian culture. Wearing red for the marriage is believed to bring good luck, prosperity and love in a married couple's life. This belief is especially strong among the Hindus. Unless it is a Christian wedding, the brides never wear white for weddings in India. An ivory or off white colour paired with other bright colours like red or orange is acceptable, but pure white is never chosen as a bride's wedding dress.

Even in Christian marriages in India, mostly the brides change to colourful bridal wears like lehengas or saris right after the wedding ceremony. I have also seen images of Christian marriages in South India where the brides have chosen to wear colourful silk saris for the marriage ceremony. In South India, there is also a tradition of the groom gifting the bride a beautiful and colourful sari to the bride as part of the marriage ceremony, this tradition can be seen in both Christian and Hindu weddings.

While most of the Muslim brides in India prefer lehengas as bridal wears, Hindu brides in north India mostly choose lehengas and the Hindu brides in South India mostly prefers traditional saris for their weddings.

What ever the wedding dress is, you can see most of the brides wearing bright colours for weddings and red is the most commonly chosen colour.

In Hindu weddings, the groom also puts a red 'tilak' or 'sindhoor' in the bride's forehead as part of the wedding ceremony. Married women usually wear the sindhoor or red spot in their forehead as long as they are married.

Traditionally, the red tilak or sindhoor in the forehead of an Indian woman indicates she is married, even though not every bride follows this custom today.

Red kumkuma powder in a bowl

Kumkuma | Source

The red sindhoor which is also known as tilak, or bindi in the bride's forehead is put using the red kumkuma powder.

Kumkuma powder is widely used in India, especially for weddings and other Hindu celebrations and religious ceremonies. Even though married women traditionally follows a custom of adorning their forehead with kumkuma for marital bliss, men also use this to put a stroke of colour in their forehead during festivals and celebrations. Pure kumkuma powder is made from either turmeric powder treated with slaked lime or sometimes from pure sandalwood paste.

Kumkuma powder is good for the skin when made from these natural ingredients, but today kumkuma powder sold in markets for commercial purposes is sometimes made from chemicals.

Today, other than the red kumkuma powder, Indian women also use the liquid bindi or the sticker tattoo like bindis which come in a variety of beautiful designs.

Have you ever attended an Indian wedding?

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Image of a colourful wedding sari

Wedding sari
Wedding sari | Source

As you can see, the sari shown in the picture is bright maroon in colour and it is full of ethnic works in golden coloured threads. The saris are usually made in pure silk and the thread works are done in pure gold threads. Today, you can also find colourful and georgeous wedding dresses, either lehengas or traditional saris or new designer saris in artificial silk, cotton and also other fabrics like net fabric, georgette etc.

In India, the bridal wears are usually brightly coloured in red or similar shades like maroon, orange, pink, yellow etc. You can also find gorgeous bridal wears in colours like blue, green, turquoise etc. Lighter coloured bridal wears are usually ivory coloured or golden coloured paired with brighter colours like orange or red.

Mehndi ceremony for weddings

Mehndi ceremony is another colourful and beautiful tradition in Indian weddings. Mehndi is the natural and colourful tattoo designs women use to decorate their hands and feet in Southeast Asian countries. In the mehndi ceremony in India, dried henna powder mixed with water and few other natural ingredients is used to put the beautiful mehndi designs in the bride's hands and feet. The mehndi designs are beautiful and bright orange reddish in colour. Mehndi ceremony has great cultural importance in Indian weddings and the belief is that the bright and deep colour represents the success and happiness of the marriage.

Colorful mehndi designs in the hands of brides


Colourful garlands and decorations

In the Hindu weddings in India, the marriage ceremony is completed only when both the bride and groom exchange beautiful flower garlands. Most often the garlands are made of colourful flowers like roses and marigolds. But white flower garlands made of fragrant flowers like jasmine and tube roses are also popular, but they often have roses or marigolds in between. Green coloured garlands made of holy basil and other sacred leaves are also popular. Regardless of the religion, the decorations for the wedding celebrations are often made colourful with beautiful flowers like red roses and marigolds.

What ever the region or religion, all traditional weddings in India are rich with colourful celebrations. The decorations, wedding dresses, food and the ceremonies all are so luxurious and royal, and they actually represent the rich, diverse culture across the country.


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    • VioletteRose profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Iris Draak, thanks so much for reading and commenting :)

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I love to study other cultures; I enjoyed this glimpse into Indian wedding ritual and the meaning of colour in them. I've always thought that saris are one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing of any culture.

    • VioletteRose profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks Ilonagarden!

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 

      4 years ago from Ohio

      Love your hub, I think ethnic weddings are wonderful. Of course I also enjoy and watch Bollywood movies :) The color, dance, and beauty!

    • VioletteRose profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you :) Yes, I agree the traditional Indian dresses are beautiful.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for this lovely hub. I think that traditional clothes worn by Indian women are so beautiful. It was very interesting to learn about the wedding traditions and their meanings.

    • VioletteRose profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks for stopping by DDE :) I don't know anything about the Croatian traditions, it must be really interesting to learn about different cultures and traditions. And I agree, it must have been fabulous to get married in the Indian way!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting hub! I am Indian and though I am married to a Croatian he suggested we get married in an Indian way was fabulous.

    • VioletteRose profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks so much :) I am glad you could understand about the henna tattoos from this article!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      This was beautiful. I always wondered what the henna tattoos were all about, so thanks for explaining it. Voted up and more.


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