Brides of India
Indian weddings are lavish and beautiful. India is a culturally diverse country. Each region has its own rich history and heritage that sometimes it is difficult to believe they all co-exist within one country. The best event to know the cultural diversity is an Indian wedding. Even within the same caste there are numerous sub castes which bring their own variation to the common culture. No two weddings are the same here. I love weddings. I have often heard people say that Indians waste too much on big weddings. But I feel that weddings are made so big that they can never be forgotten in a million years. Having been a blushing bride once, I know what it is to stand beautifully dressed in front of thousands and pose for the camera. So I wanted to let the world know how many types of beautiful bridal costumes India has introduced the world to.
In the brahmin wedding, during Kaniha dhanam ceremony, the bride wears a koorai pattu. It is the time when the father of the bride presents the daughter to the groom. The color of the sari is usually red or in relative shades. This colour is associated with Goddess Shakthi. The sari is draped by the future sister-in-law thus strengthening the marital bonds. They wear the sari is a madisar style which is exclusive to the Iyer community.
The madisar style sari is a bit longer than the normal six yard sari and is worn on all important occasions in the family. It especially suits the aged women in the family as they look perfect and majestic in it. It is an attire that is worn only by the Brahmin community.
Bengalis are charming and beautiful. Red is their wedding color. They are known for their love of literature and sweets. Bengali sweets are world famous. Benaras Silk is the material they use for their brides. The traditional wedding sari is a mix of white and red but a completely red sari with zari print is also widely acknowledged. The Pallu is printed with designs from ancient India. The original banarasi silk is very decorative and very heavy. It is of very high quality giving the bride a royal look. Another striking feature of their ensemble is the alta (like mehendi) which is applied on their feet and hands in a bright red color. Other wedding shades are maroon and pink. The jewelry of Bengalis is very heavy and big. They are artistic and look gorgeous on the young bride. Gold is very auspicious. The bride has to wear the hair in a bun. Her sari is then draped over the bun. Finally another grand piece of cloth, the mukut is draped over the head. This is compulsory.
The southern parts of India favor saris to any of the other fancy dresses during wedding. In Andhra too there are different types of saris for the occasion. Gadwal Saris are known to blend cotton and silk with a heavy pallu which is the tail end of the sari. It is said that this sari is a status symbol among the upper class society. Dharmavaram is the main area of sari shopping in Andhra. Those saris are heavily decked in silk and are very ornamental. Other types of saris available are the Mangalgiri saris and the Kalamkari saris. A wedding sari is usually six yards. Most of the weddings feature the bride wearing a simple pure cotton sari during the mangal sutra ceremony and decorative silks for the rest of the ceremony.
In Tamil Nadu, the bride prefers silk sari to fancy designer saris. For the main muhurthum, koorapattu (a simple cotton sari) is taken. For the other occasions, full zari (silk saris are worn. The most famous sari of this area is the Kancheepuram Pattu. Tamilians are very sentimental about their wedding attire and sometimes, wedding saris are even passed down from mother to daughter for good luck. The sari is an elaborate work of golden thread and is heavy.
Gujarat is a traditional land of extraordinary cultural aspects. They bring in a lot of color to the Indian tradition as a whole. Gujarati Saris and festivals are very famous all over the world. The wedding is also a grand event for the Gujarati people. The bride wears a sari called panetar and gharchola. The panetar is a unique silk sari with white body and red border. It is a gift from the bride's maternal uncle. The sari is woven with Gajji silk. Later it is dyed in white, red and green. The Gharchola is a gift from the bride's future in-laws. The material usually displays the famous bandhini work of Gujarat. The panetar is worn in the beginning of the weddng and the gharchola is worn towards the end of the wedding. It is done so to symbolise the bride becoming a part of her new family.
Image: the bigfatindianwedding.com
Kerala is a state which has Hindu, Muslim and Christian population. The Kerala hindu brides prefer Kancheepuram Saris with Zardosi work. Embroidery and mirror work are popular here. The wedding saris are usually light colored. The brides were a huge amount of jewelry in gold. Crepe and Gorgette saris are also preferred for their elegant look. The christian brides wear a white sari to signify purity with a veil over their head. Some brides even wear bridal gowns of white or ivory. The traditional Muslim bride wears a bright lehenga with a headdress made of lace work.
The Maharashtrian wedding has a lot of ceremonies before, during and after the wedding. Special pujas are offered to the family deity and to Goddess Parvathi and Annapurni on the day of the wedding. A special piece of jewelry called the mundavalya is tied to the forehead of the bride. It is made of pearls and flowers and is an important symbol of the wedding. The typical wedding color of this region is yellow though red and its shades are also seen. Special songs are sung in Marathi during the ceremony. The groom's mother puts a special chain to the bride and with each holy hymn ties a knot. The bride's father presents the bride to the groom. The bride acknowledges the love of the father. Paithani saris are very famous in Maharashtrian weddings. the nose ring or Nath and ornaments like putala, tushi are famous in these weddings. Traditional weddings always included a Shela or a Chanderi dupatta that is draped over the head during the wedding.
Punjabis are very enthusiaistic people who take their culture very seriously. Like Gujaratis they have great songs for every occasion.
The bridal wear for a Sikh girl is usually Choli or lehenga. The color is very bright as they are very fair. Dress designs are very elaborate and the wedding function is grand with all the relatives taking part in it.
There are many ceremonies concerning the bride before and after the wedding. A punjabi wedding is a treat for your eyes and ears. Also they have a great appreciation for food. The wedding feast is specially done and is awesome.
What do wedding ornaments signify?
Ornaments are an integral part of a wedding. Some pieces are worn regularly after wedding. Though these are common ornaments most of us have never really understood the importance of it. My focus is mainly on jewels used by Tamil women after marriage but the same jewel can have a modified version in some other part of India. After all India is a country full of cultural richness. The ornaments given here not only make the bride beautiful but also bring her good health, safety and luck according to ancient Hindu beliefs. There are different jewels designed for different parts of the body. Some are outdated and are not seen regularly while some are common even today. In Tamil, the goddess is said to be honored with five ornaments - Seevagasinthamani (head), Manimeghalai(waist), Valayapathi(hands), Kundalakesi(ears), Silapadhikaram (legs).
Chutti is the ornament which is worn on top the forehead. The place where it falls loosely on the forehead is believed to have the intellectual chakra. The pressure of the ornament stimulates the brain and thinking. Traditional chuttis are round and they are made of stones or pearls. Today the modern woman prefers various models in the design instead of the traditional circular one.
Mookuthi is otherwise called as nose ring. In some cultures it is used to symbolize the virginity of the bride and is worn only before marriage. But in the culture of the south, mookuthi is the symbol of a wedded woman. It is said to remind the wife that she must learn to master her anger since her anger can destroy the whole family. Tamilians associate nose with the virtue of anger.
Kammal or earring is an auspicious ornament of the bride. It is a symbol to ward off evil spirits. The location is also a pressure point and serves as an acupuncture point. Traditional women wore Jimkis (round umbrella shaped earrings). Today earrings are easily the largest diversified ornaments with thousands of new designs releasing every year.
Thali is the holy thread that pronounces a man and woman as husband and wife. It is also called mangal sutra. Mangal means holy, sutra means thread. It is an ornament that is tied close to the heart to remind that the heart belongs to only her husband. It is synonymous with wedding rings in the west. There are a lot of designs of mangal sutra depending on the caste of the person. Even in Tamil Nadu each sub caste has a different design of mangal sutra. This is the most important piece of wedding jewellery.
Valayal or bangles is another jewel which is closely associated with the well being of the husband. It symbolizes that the husband and wife belong to each other and their love is divine. Just like the bangle is one circle with no divisions, the couple too must be of one heart and soul. In the south, green colored bangles are believed to bring prosperity to the bride. In certain other culture glass bangles and ivory bangles are preferred.
This is the Tamil version of the wedding rings. It is worn on the ring finger and is usually a thin band of gold. It is believed that wearing a metal on the ring finger stimulates the connectivity of the brain. In some customs, multiple rings are worn in the fingers and a joined by a palm ornament. This can be seen especially in north Indian weddings.
Ottiyanam is an ornament worn around the hip. It is a symbol of authority in the household as women hang their wardrobe and house keys in this ornament. During the ancient period, all married women wore this. But this is not a common ornament today. It can be seen only during weddings as part of the ceremony.
Kolusu or anklet is worn around the ankle as a loose chain of silver. It used to be a single silver thread. But today it is made out of silver and gold and is also used as a casual ornament. In the olden days, the husband knew when the wife was approaching him from the sound of the bells from the kolusu. It is even available in two tier and three tier designs.
Which is your favorite piece of jewellery?
Metti or the toe ring is a symbol of a married woman next to the mangal sutra. It is presented by the husband to the wife during the marriage ceremony. It is usually worn in twos in silver metal. The toe next to the big toe is said to have a nerve passing through uterus. Wearing a metti keeps that particular nerve safe. Nowadays this toe ring is worn as a fashion statement and is available in a variety of metals.