After a week of celebrations, this was the unanimous conclusion of various non-Indian guests from all over the world who attended a wedding in New Delhi, the Indian capital.
Let’s explore the traditions of this event:
For the marriage to be successful, the wedding must be celebrated on a “favourable” day. Taking into account the date of birth of the couple and the Hindu calendar, the priest calculates the most favourable days for the union.
There is a negative period during which Hindus do not celebrate weddings, and on the contrary, there are “auspicious” times in which the streets of India are full of lights, which indicate that there is a marriage in the house.
Once the families accept the marriage proposal, the engagement party is celebrated, which is usually organised by the bride’s family.
In this event, the couple exchanges rings and the bride’s family give the fiancé and the groom family jewellery, sweets and money.
Sangit means music in Hindi, the most spoken language in India. The sangit is a celebration prior to the wedding in which music has a major role: there is singing and dancing all night long. Each family celebrates its own sangit.
Normally, the family has a friend or acquaintance who sings and plays the Dhol, the traditional instrument that puts rhythm to the event. Other guests also participate by hitting the wood with a spoon.
Some of the songs are prayers and others contain bold verses in which jokes are made about the future family, the wedding night, or what happens after the marriage.
Throughout the night of the sangit, women adorn their hands with Henna tattoos. The drawings vary in complexity: normally the closer in relation to the bride, the more complicated the design.
Making the tattoo takes only a few minutes, but the longer you allow the Henna to dry, the darker the colour it leaves on the skin, and the prettier it is considered.
The bride usually tries to delay her turn to the maximum before being tattooed with Henna, to be able to enjoy more of the party: besides the hands and forearms she has tattoos on her feet.
Often, while women celebrate traditional sangit, men organise their own party. Sometimes men play around in the women’s party. Sometimes, a disco is improvised, with loudspeakers, lights and, of course, music at full volume. In the repertoire, the most popular themes of the Bollywood musicals are never absent.
This ritual, the Teil Baan or Heldi, is done both to the groom and the bride during the morning before the day of the wedding.
Formerly considered “favourable” and as there were no beauty salons it was part of the aesthetic preparation of the couple, since the turmeric revives the colour of the skin. Today it is an essentially symbolic rite.
The married women of the family apply with a special type of herb a series of substances on the bride.
The ingredients used – from mustard oil, to a red powder called vermilion – are applied to the feet, knees, elbows, shoulders and forehead of the bride.
Then, as the bride is so beautiful, the women perform another ritual to protect her from envious eyes.
After a visit to the temple, the bridegroom arrives in procession to one of the many popular Indian wedding venues, on horseback or on a float and surrounded by his entourage of guests.
During the final journey, the dance group advances very slowly, stopping every few metres to dance to the sound of drums.
The bride is with her guests, and they hear the growing noise of the groom’s procession drawing closer, and expectation grows.
As you can imagine, it is like a full-time job organising all the different aspects involved in a traditional Indian wedding.