Bridal Sutra – North Indian Hindu Wedding Tradition And Rituals

     By Revathy

Hello pretty ones!
I shall be detailing about the typical customs and rituals involved in a North Indian wedding in this post with you all.  First let me thank Pree for giving me this opportunity to write for IBJ – that too in her signature “Bridal Sutra” series! Love u Pree. Secondly, let me give you a small background about my wedding.  I am a Tamil Brahmin girl – born and brought up in Chennai and chanced upon to meet my guy in Hyderabad when we were trainees in an IT firm.  Love bug bit both of us shortly and we had to treat it with the “marriage” medicine!

In our country, were marriages are pompous affairs – have a number of customs lined up before the actual wedding.
In a typical North Indian wedding, following rituals are involved –

  1. Sagaai – The Engagement
  2. Sangeet
  3. Mehendi
  4. Haldi
  5. Tilak
  6. Baraat
  7. Jaimaal
  8. Phere
  9. Bidaai

Phew! Quite a list..Now let’s see each of these customs in detail..
SAGAAI (ENGAGEMENT)
This is the first formal ceremony between both the families, once the wedding alliance is agreed upon.
The to-be bride & the groom exchange rings to confirm the alliance. Like any tradition, we did not have an engagement before our wedding.  Both of us were abroad and wedding was close-by.  So our families decided to have the wedding directly 
SANGEET
Sangeet means ‘music’ in Hindi.  And when these is music, can dance be far behind? The ‘Sangeet’ ceremony takes place a day or two before the actual wedding takes place. It involved a lot of singing & dancing by both the families – rejoicing upon the union of two families by  the wedding.

For our wedding, the young ones in the family, gave a beautiful, well-choreographed dance performance! 

This is me after some hectic dancing in my Sangeet.
MEHENDI
Next comes the Mehendi ceremony.. which happens just the day before the wedding. Mehendi ceremonies generally happen individually for the bride & the groom at their places. Generally, the bride’s mehendi is more intricate than the groom’s. The groom’s name is written hidden on the bride’s mehendi and likewise on the groom’s hand too.
Post wedding, both the bride & groom are asked to find each other’s name in the other’s hand by the elders as part of ice-breakers. Music & dance accompany this event too..
HALDI
‘Haldi’ or ‘Ubtan’ ceremony takes place on the morning of the day of wedding. It is usually a paste of herbs including haldi(turmeric), chandan(sandalwood), gulab jal (rosewater), tulsi (basil) , rose petals, attar and many more. It is again a fun ceremony which brings that added glow on both the bride and groom’s face & body.
TILAK
This ceremony happens in the late-noon of the wedding day. It is primarily for the groom. Once both the families arrive at the choultry/guest house, the bride’s parents and relatives and groom’s family and relatives along with the groom meet at the hall.
Puja is performed for the goodness of the groom & bride and also for their impending future. The bride will not be present in this ceremony. The bride’s father gives the dowry (as it used to be the case in olden days) in this ceremony only. These days the bride’s father handsover the gifts he has got for the groom during the ‘Tilak‘.
BARAAT
Move over pre-wedding ceremonies! Here comes the actual wedding! The bride is taken separately  by evening, to the wedding hall/choultry once she gets ready for the wedding. The groom once ready, mounts a horse (ghodi) takes a procession to the wedding venue which is termed as the ‘Baraat’.
While a music band plays peppy numbers, the groom’s family, friends & relatives dance all through their way to the wedding venue amidst lot of fireworks and crackers.
The bride is not supposed to see her ‘baraat’ as per customs. Once the groom arrives, the bride’s father welcomes him and takes him to the ‘JaiMaal’ area.
JAIMAAL
‘Mala’ means garland in Hindi. Hence, the term ‘Jaimaal’. The bride and groom exchange garlands with the blessing of all elders present. This is an emotional ceremony since the bride now becomes the man’s wife.
In our wedding, we were made to stand atop a rotating stage amidst high-energy mantra chanting and confetti for the ‘Jaimaal’  – the highlight of the whole wedding. Jaimaal is followed by dinner which is usually a lavish feast comprising of food from across the country.
PHERE
‘Phere’ means the ‘sacred 7 rounds around a pious fire’ –  that the bride and groom take together as part of their wedding vows. 
 
And then the groom applies the sindoor (vermilion) on the bride’s maang (hair partition) followed by tying the mangalsutra. 
The North Indian mangalsutra typically consist of black beads in a chain with a stone-studded pendant. I had a South Indian, Brahmin style mangalsutra tied in this ceremony – made of gold chain & pendants with figures of God embossed. The groom’s mami ji (aunt) puts on the toe rings (Bichiya in Hindi) for the bride.  
All this happens in the darkest hours before the dawn 
BIDAAI
This is again a highly-emotional ceremony both for the bride and her family. Bidaai means ‘farewell’. The bride’s side bids farewell to their gal who sets off to her man’s house. And they lived happily ever after! 😀
I shall talk about post-wedding rituals too in a separate post later! 

Who is Preetha

Preetha is an engineer turned beauty blogger from India. She loves trying out new beauty products and makeup looks. She is a mother of a one year old baby girl and loves photography, cooking and makeup of course.

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