A wedding is a religious ceremony by which two individuals are joined in matrimony. Wedding traditions and cultures vary greatly among cultures, regions, religious groups, and class. Some brides exchange rings on their wedding day, while others do not. Traditionally, a bridal marriage ceremony is performed by a priest or clergyman.
In India, unlike in the west, the wedding ceremony does not conclude with exchanging rings. The bride and groom proceed to a place called the darbar (meeting place). Here they exchange symbolic gifts such as garlands and telegu (traditional Indian garland). It is believed that in India, telegu signifies fidelity and respect.
In Indonesia, unlike in the west, the wedding ceremony doesn’t end with the exchange of rings. Both bride and groom perform the ‘mangka’ dance together, signaling the beginning of a new marital life. In Bali, the wedding ceremonies do not end with the groom striding down the aisle but actually begin with the bride emerging from a house hidden in the flower petals.
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Marriages in Japan, however, follow a different ritual. After the bride and groom sign a contract of marriage, they go to a room where there is a stone used for passing away wishes. The couple then puts a stone on the ground, saying “Marriage has entered into a deeper level.” After saying this, the stone is removed and the couple then goes to another room to exchange gifts. This is how Japanese brides and grooms pass down their wealth – by gift.
The bridal mehendi ceremony in eastern India also follows a different ritual than the bridal mehendi ceremony in Japan. Here, a doll is placed on the forehead of the bride and groom. It is then said that their bond is like that of iron bars and that they will have to stay together for a lifetime. After saying this, the couple goes to a room where they sign the marriage papers and give each other a bath.
Indian marriages don’t end with a simple ceremony. They are as unique as the cultures and lifestyles of the Indian brides and grooms. From the mehendi ceremony to the area and the exchanging of gifts, every part of an Indian wedding seems to have its own story to tell. And now that technology has brought everything to our living rooms, we can follow along to learn more about each tradition and see how it came to be in our own lives.