The Indian wedding ceremony strictly submits to both traditions, religious and local. Actually there are some universal dogmas which everybody follows. The rituals are closely connected with religious symbolism and each element is endowed with special sense.
The preparation of the bride for the wedding begins some days before the fixed date. She has to pass through three obligatory procedures. The first is the painting of her hands and feet with henna. Special patterns are called “Mehndi” and symbolize beauty and tenderness of the bride. The beauty salons offer huge catalogs of various Mehndi compositions.
The second important procedure is to put a ring in the bride’s nose called “Nath”, that symbolize her purity. According to tradition, each Indian girl at the age of 13-14 years piecres her nose herself and at her wedding day they will attach the ring for it. Today it is often replaced by the small ringlet or the stylized nail.
Then the forehead of the bride is decorated with the red point bindi as the sign of marriage. The modern bindi isn’t necessary red; there exist various forms and colors. At the same time they put a thin bracelet on the bride’s foot that also means duty. Unlike the future spouse, the groom shouldn't prepare so long, but they also put the red sign on the forehead.
The ceremony on the wedding day begins early in the morning. The groom accompanied by the relatives, takes away the bride from the house of her parents. Usually he does it on the car, sometimes horseback and some prefer on the back of an elephant, that is considered the sacred animal. The pageantry with the bride on the elephant looks fabulous and always becomes the center of attention on the street, stopping movement and exciting the avalanche of good-wishing from all directions, even from the unfamiliar. On arrival of the groom’s delegation at the bride’s house, she passes the dowry to his parents, and then both go to the temple where the wedding will take place. The tradition of the dowry is observed to this day everywhere in India, it is one of the most strict castle laws.
Indian brides dress the red wedding sari made of silk or other light fabric which has been richly embroidered by gold, jewels and pearls. The wedding sari weighs heavier than the usual one; there is also a veil to it which covers the bride’s head and face until Pujari, the Hindu priest leading the wedding, won't allow the groom to lift it. Besides, the bride carries various jewelry among which there are surely ringing bracelets helping her to go step-in-step after the spouse. He for his part is dressed in a suit of European design or in traditional Indian kurtha with the turban and a feather on the head.
In the temple, newlyweds swear everlasting fidelity in the presence of the relatives. Here they also have to execute some rituals: to put on each other’s neck the flower garland as the sign of fidelity, to pour water from bride’s palms to groom’s palms as the symbol of transfer of wisdom and love, and at the end to circle the fire seven times specially lighted for this purpose and seven times to exchange promises of everlasting love. Meanwhile the bride is sprinkled with rice and then the groom is allowed to lift the veil.
The religious ceremony comes to an end with the exchange of wedding rings, made of gold.
The festive occasion continues the noisy and long (sometimes about two days) feast with music, dances and entertainment, with the attendance of numerous guests and friends.
The Indian wedding is attractive to modern young foreigners, therefore travel agencies offer special wedding packages. At the request of the newlyweds, they can combine elements of the Indian and European wedding. The ceremony often ends on one of the fantastic Goa beaches.