Wedding Vows and the Indian Wedding

Indian wedding ceremonies are incredible. At their core, they are a collection of beautiful, long-held traditions and religious rituals intended to both sanctify the joining of two people in matrimony and to prepare and bless the couple for their future together. However, most modern Indian wedding ceremonies also find ways to showcase unique aspects of a couple’s tastes or relationship. With the right officiant, they can also combine and include elements of almost every faith tradition.

One part of Western/Christian weddings which have always intrigued us are the vows, particularly vows written by the couple. Now, Indian wedding ceremonies do have vows, in a way, but they are typically a standard set of Sanskrit chants that the couple is prompted by the officiant to say. Usually, the couples and their guests have little sense of what these “vows” actually mean. In most cases, the couple isn’t even sure if they are saying the right words!

We think it’s high time that Indian couples start including their own written vows, spoken in English (or any other language of choice), in their wedding ceremonies. After all the rituals and events and dancing, the whole point of a wedding is to commit two people to each other for life. Wouldn’t it be great if couples could make that commitment in their own words, and in a way that their family and friends and understand?

So we say, go for it! Work with your officiant to find an appropriate time and manner for exchanging your own vows. We think you and your guest will find it meaningful and memorable.

Now comes the hard part: writing the vows! Good luck!

Mithai

In Hindi, “mithai” refers to sweet, sugary desserts.

If you have never had Indian sweets before, you’re in for a super sugary treat. Mithai are usually sweeter than most western desserts, so start small. Our favorites include gulab jamun (fried donut holes soaked in sugary syrup), jalebi (fried funnel cakes soaked in sugary syrup), and rasmalai (spongy cakes served in sweet milk).

 

What to Wear to a Mehndi: American Clothes

We’ve covered mehndi parties a lot on this blog, but we’ve never looked at them from the perspective of a non-Indian person wanting to attend one and not knowing what to wear. So here you go!

Mehndi parties are a relatively casual event in the grand scheme of an Indian wedding. This is an event where most of the guests will have a colored paste applied to their hands, then wait patiently while the paste dries so they can resume normal activities. This is probably not the time to break out your floor-length BCBG Max Azria knit evening gown, unless the invitation says otherwise.

This is likely a time for a cocktail dress or sundress, and we’d lean more towards sundresses. If it’s winter when you’re attending a mehndi party, a sundress obviously won’t work for you, but you could probably wear a sweater dress or nice tunic with leggings and fit in just fine.

  

   

If you’re considering venturing into Indian clothes territory, this is a good time to discover the kurti, which is an Indian-inspired flowy top that pairs well with jeans or leggings. You can find kurti-adjacent tops by many American designers, like the ones we found below; think tunic tops and embroidery.

   

 

 

Ghori

You might hear people at an Indian wedding talking about a “ghori” a lot, especially when you’re starting the baraat. It might sound like they’re saying the word “gory” a lot. You might start to wonder why they think this beautiful festival of dancing and singing around a horse is so filled with gore. You don’t see any gore around here. Are they offended by horses? What is going on?

The “ghori” is actually the horse. In many traditional Hindu weddings, the groom arrives astride a white, female horse. This “ghori” usually has some decorations on her bridle, and may be wearing festive gear to celebrate the wedding.

Want to learn more about the baraat? Check out our other posts by clicking on the tags below!

Looking Back: Advice from Sudhir

Especially with big Indian weddings, it’s hard to spend time with, let alone greet, all of your guests. On top of that, many of the guests you may not know or recognize because the relationship is more with your parents than you. Looking back, I wish I had done a better job of going through our guest list and at least trying to make sure I knew something about everyone who was at our wedding. I also wish I had made the effort to spend a little more “quality time” with our close friends. — Sudhir

What to Wear to a Mehndi: Indian Clothes

Indian weddings are a marathon of joyous occasions, a feast of color, and a whirl of festivities. One of the first events to kick off an Indian wedding is usually a mehndi party. We’ve written before about what to expect at a mehndi party (here) and what kinds of shoes you might want to wear to a mehndi party (here). Now we’re here to talk about what to wear to a mehndi party if you’re planning on rocking Indian clothes.

Mehndi parties tend to be more casual than the other elements of an Indian wedding. It’s not uncommon to see guests — or even brides! — in jeans or shorts for this event. After all, henna can be messy, and you don’t want it to ruin your nicest sari. Take cues from the wedding invitation, check the website for information about attire, or ask the maid of honor what is proper attire for the party. However, when in doubt, it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.

Keep in mind that henna is a greenish paste that is piped onto your hands like frosting. While wet, the henna is staining your palms a deep red in the pattern that your henna artist has chosen. However, if wet henna touches your clothes, or your face, or the carpet, it will stain that, too. Even damp henna will transfer color to other objects. In other words, this is not the day to break out the $500 sari, unless you live the kind of life where a $500 sari is your cheapest sari, in which case we’d like for you to adopt us.

As a rule, we’d suggest something on the more casual end of the Indian clothes spectrum for a mehndi party. We love a salwar kameez or anarkali for the ease of movement and comfort level. Both involve a long top and pants, with an optional dupatta accessory. Examples:

   

Another casual alternative is to mix a kurti with jeans, shorts, a skirt, or leggings. This is the most versatile option, still looks dressy enough for a party, and has an Indian fusion aspect to it, which we love. Examples are below:

  

 

What do you think, readers? Are we right on track? Do you prefer to wear lehengas or saris to mehndi parties instead of more casual options? Or do you think Indian clothes in general aren’t necessary for such an informal event? We want to hear from you!

Sarbala

The groom in an Indian wedding will often participate in a flashy and energetic baraat, which we’ve written about before. And who tags along with the groom during his wedding processional? The sarbala.

In English, we might call him the best man. But really, he’s usually a young boy. Most grooms will choose their nephew, younger brother, or cousin to be a sarbala. If the mode of transportation allows it (e.g., riding in a chariot behind the horse rather than astride the horse itself), some grooms might choose to have multiple sarbalas.

The cutest part? Some grooms will opt to have their sarbala dress like them, so a mini-groom rides in with them to the wedding.