Indian marriage ceremonies are eventful affairs that covers several days. As a guest, you will be expected to understand your role in the festivities and be prepared to handle all the challenges that comes with tackling everything from the Henna tattooing, known as mehndi, to celebrating after the marriage ceremony. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan to participate as a guest at an Indian wedding.
What to Wear
Like with Western weddings, it is vital that you do not outshine the couple by wearing flashy clothing or bringing in items that signify bad things. Unlike western weddings, Indian weddings do not have a strict dress code. Instead, it is considered proper to just dress modestly and avoid the colors red, black, and white.
Western clothing is acceptable. It is considered a good thing if you choose colorful clothing, so feel free to wear a nice festive yellow or a deep-sea blue.
For women, it is considered respectful to wear a traditional sari or lehenga during the religious components of the marriage ceremony. You do not need to wear them for the all festive events, so feel free to have a change of wardrobe on hand!
For men it is considered acceptable to wear either a suit or a long coat-like garment known as sherwani.
The Order of Ceremonies
It is important to understand that marriage in India is much more than a religious and legal bonding between two people. It is a joining of two families and is viewed as a time of celebration by everyone connected to the couple. The ceremonies start with an engagement party where the wedding date will be announced. From there, numerous prayer gatherings, “luck” building events, and games shall be held to ensure that the marriage is a happy one. After these is the actual ceremony. Following that, there is the tearful leaving of the bride’s house and entry into the groom’s family’s residence. Finally - a celebratory reception is held during which every gathers to congratulate the couple and partake in a wedding feast.
Different people will be invited to each ceremony and it is essential that you keep up your strength. Check the schedule carefully and make certain you have enough time to rest - for a sleepy guest can be taken as a sign of bad luck!
Each dish is carefully selected by both families for their significance during the wedding. They typically symbolize the joining and highlight many of the local traditional dishes found where the families came from (especially if it is held somewhere besides India.) It is best to take the opportunity to experience the finest in Indian cuisine.
Just make certain that you discuss any allergies in advance. Since there are many unique dishes at this gatherings it is almost inevitable that an allergen will crop up sometime during the feasts.
Gifts are an essential part of any celebration, regardless if it is a Western or Indian wedding. Much like with western weddings, Indian wedding gifts are meant to help the newlyweds start off their lives. As such, the items should be things that they can put to use immediately. Thus, if you do not know of anything they need it is considered a good idea to provide a monetary gift. If you really want to make it special, try to give it in a value that ends in 1 since those numbers are considered lucky.
Some tangible gifts commonly given at a wedding include:
- Household Electronics
- Cutlery Sets
- Paintings and Art Pieces
Now you are ready to enjoy the richness of an Indian Wedding!