In India marriage is considered not only the joining of two individuals, but the joining of two families. It is hoped that the marriage will strengthen the community. Most marriages are “arranged”. This means parents or other interested parties take on the responsibility of finding a suitable mate for a son or daughter. Religious considerations are paramount and marrying outside of ones’ religion is frowned upon. In “love” marriages the boy and girl themselves select their partner.
Hindu Marriage Rituals
After the selection of a partner is made, a priest is asked to pick an auspicious date for betrothal ceremony. When that date arrives, the bride and the women in the family prepare the mehndi ceremony where turmeric paste is applied to her face, feet and hands. Then comes the application of the Mehndi to the hands and feet of the bride (henna), a temporary skin decoration of intricate designs. This joyous ceremony and accompanied by dancing and singing of traditional songs and saris of vivid colors. The house or venue where the wedding will take place is decorated and a special canopy is built for the ceremony.
Symbols of marriage include: the bride’s red silk sari, glass bangles, and gold jewelry. The groom will also give the bride a ‘mangalsutra‘ or ‘blessed thread’. It is a sacred necklace of love, trust and marital happiness, combining black pearls and gold beads and a pendant. The bride will wear it everyday of her life as long as her husband loves her. It is thought to be a bad omen if it is lost or stolen.
This slideshow gives a brief overview of Hindu wedding rituals:
Brides in Bollywood movies: