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Wedding Traditions and Marriage Rites From Around the World

Updated on September 9, 2014

African bride

African bride
African bride

Hindu wedding girl

Hindu wedding girl
Hindu wedding girl | Source

Hindu wedding

The Hindu wedding ceremony is basically a transition from being single to being a married couple; the ceremony encompasses various stages in the life of the couple from the first meeting to the marriage. A typical Hindu wedding ceremony is done in an ancient language/scripture preserved for holy ceremonies known as the Sanskrit.

The Buddhist Sanskrit is common in southeast Asia and India which can be traced far back as 1500 BCE, the earlier form of the lndo- European language is the Vedic Sanskrit. Being a primary language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism it is generally used in important ceremonies and rituals.

One of the most important ceremonies is the Hindu marriage ceremony which is celebrated with grandeur, exciting décor, lots of floral arrangements and revelry. No two wedding ceremonies are the same because apart from the Sanskrit language and scriptures used some of the ceremony is performed in the dialect of that particular region or people.

Despite this small difference the major tenants of the traditional ceremony are strictly adhered to giving the occasion a uniform structure. The wedding ceremony has its origin in a folklore love story of chivalry and honor about a man Ashninikumer after winning a chariot race and was given Surya as a bride by the father Savita.

The wedding ceremony could be done within a day or several days and even running to a week depending on the resources available, social standing and custom of the region. Most Hindu marriages are financed by the bride’s parents while the groom and his family are guests.

The ceremony has certain stages that should be strictly followed before the marriage is officially concluded and each stage has its provisions.

Hindu wedding ritual in progress

Hindu wedding ritual in progress
Hindu wedding ritual in progress | Source

Fire rituals at a Hindu Wedding, Orissa India

Fire rituals at a Hindu Wedding, Orissa India
Fire rituals at a Hindu Wedding, Orissa India | Source

Different kinds of Hindu weddings ceremonies

There are about eight types of Hindu weddings according to the Manusmriti an ancient Hindu text, this include the Brahmana, the Daiva (daughter given to a priest), Rishis, Prajapati, Asuras, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Pisaka. Hindu marriages are usually referred to as vivaah while vivaah sanskar has to do with the wedding ceremony, listed below are some Hindu wedding arrangements.

  • Prajapahya. This type of wedding ceremony consists of an agreed consent to wed including an exchange of wedding vows between the bride and groom.
  • Two types of marriages in ancient Hindu are the Rakshasa and Paishacha which are total abolished in today’s India. The Rakshasa marriage is wrong and illegal because the groom forcefully abducts a woman despite opposition to the union. Another forbidden marriage act that is against the law is Paishacha which is akin to unsolicited forceful knowledge of a woman.
  • Braham marriage. Braham marriage is the most common type of Hindu marriage ceremony; the father finds a suitable panther for his daughter. After proposing marriage both families meet to discus the modalities of the marriage. In this arrangement it is the duty of the father to betroth his daughter to the groom usually in a grand ceremony.
  • Daiva marriage is an ancient practice whereby a sacrificial fee is replaced by the offer of a bride by the father.
  • Arsha marriage is like a dowry system and a vowed obligation to the woman’s parents where gifts or livestock is offered to a father n exchange for his daughters hand on marriage. Asura is also a dowry based system that has to do with financial gain on the part of the father of the bride. Although the practice is common it is not favorably accepted because of the greed factor.
  • Gandharva marriage has to do with a cohabiting couple then decide to marry without subjecting themselves to any Hindu ceremony. They might opt for the customary court and get married under customary law.

African Marriage Ritual Photos

African Marriage Ritual Photos
African Marriage Ritual Photos | Source

Marriage rites and traditions

Marriage is an essential part of every society even in isolated or remote settlements; the pairing might have similarities to what we know today or might be far fetched and weird. Even when the actual wedding can be identifiable the rites of passage that lead to that lovely occasion can seem strange.

Every country has some sort of wedding traditions that are passed down through generations, the traditions might seem bizarre. Some traditions defy logic seem silly but may have serious underlining reasons like a prayer for good luck, prosperity, and childbearing.

Traditions are sacred to the practitioners and many of them are merely symbolic acts that have become customary to perform especially in the presence of family and friends. The wedding traditions differ from nations, countries, demography, ethnic groups, tribes, and people.

Africa is a vast region and definitely we find diverse people tribes and wedding rites that are sometime colorful full, fun and full of funfair. Some wedding rites are totally silly while some are really weird and rather disturbing.

Scottish rite


Jumping the Broom

Jumping the broom
Jumping the broom | Source

Jumping the broom

Romani gypsies have the wedding tradition of jumping the broom a tradition that is now practiced by many ethnic groups and cultures especially in America. A heavily ornamented broom highly accessorized with brilliant colors, flowers complete with guest list, ribbons and balloons.

After the wedding the jumping the broom has a symbolic interpretation such as joining both households as well as depicting fertility, prosperity and wealth. Different people have adapted this traditional wedding rite with small variations like that seen in some African American weddings.

The jumping over the broom might seem simplistic and fun but has many underlining beliefs and traditions tied to the act.

Scottish wedding traditions

Scottish wedding traditions are full of folklore, romance and very strange practices, some interesting, funny, pointless or might have serious moral lessons. Their tradition is beautiful full occasioned with nice outfits, ethnic music and scrumptious meals, but you can find some really weird traditions in certain areas of the island.

Some interesting traditions involve the blackening of bride and groom, the long reel dance, the wedding scramble; the six pence, traditional gift, Creeling and the brides cog.

.The blackening of the bride

The blackening of the bride is a marriage rite practiced in certain area of Scotland, the act of covering both bride and groom in flour, nasty soot and other unsavory stuff. The reasoning behind emptying bucket loads of mud and dirt dates back to superstitious beliefs that the muck wards of evil spirits.

The major areas that still have this ancient practice include Angus, Fife and parts of Aberdeen shire.

The brides Cog

You know how Scottish people love their ale; Orcadian weddings have cogs of ale as part of the wedding ceremony. Which is usually a mixture of strong alcohol, sugar, mints, gin, pepper, brandy and other alcoholic brands?

The tradition of Creeling is cutting the ties that hold a basket by the newly wed this belief is to attract good fortune, good health and prosperity. Some grooms even have their feet smeared with grease, soot and ash while the brides are washed with water on the feet washing ceremony.

10 Strange Wedding Traditions

Traditional Practices

Blackening the Bride
Smashing dishes
Fattening the Bride
Fire-abducting the Bride

Greek Wedding Traditions

Greek Wedding Traditions
Greek Wedding Traditions

A weird German wedding tradition

Smashing dishes

This tradition is not peculiar to Germans alone as smashing dishes is practiced in Greece and even among gypsy communities. The smashing of dishes has a symbolic meaning which revolves around the couple’s ability to weather the storms of life.

The load sound of the dishes breaking signifies turbulent times to come and the couple cleaning up the mess shows uniformity of purpose.

The Fattening room maidens

The Fattening room maidens
The Fattening room maidens | Source

The fattening room

In Calabar Cross river state amongst the Efik people of Nigeria a woman getting prepared for marriage might opt for the traditional fattening room. The fattening room is a traditional house were the lady stays in seclusion for a period that ranges between three months and six months.

It is an ancient practice of feeding the bride with sumptuous meals, grooming her for marriage and being taught how to keep a happy home. The main focus is to get her as fat as possible in order to please her husband while learning culinary skills and traditions.


Mentioned above are just a few of the wonderful wedding rite and traditions you can find around the world. Some seem weird and sometimes frightening but they all have significant meaning to the people and tribes that practice these traditions.


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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I come from a Scottish heritage, but never heard of these traditions. Guess they didn't make it from the old country to the new. Don't think I would have appreciated having my wedding gown ruined! Great hub full of interesting information. Sharing

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      I would not like the Scottish tradition of having soot and flour thrown over you.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Hmm, interesting tony, I'd rather keep it simple and economical. The closest way that God approves it to be. Can you describe that one?