In some parts of India, weddings include a milni, or a ceremonial meeting of men from the bride’s and groom’s families. Historically, the groom’s family might travel a great distance for this wedding, and the wedding might have been arranged without both families formally meeting one another first.

That’s rarely the case these days, but the rituals and traditions that arose from older times stuck around, and that’s why we still perform a milni. In practice, here’s how a milni works:

The bride and groom conduct a sort of Fantasy Milni Draft, wherein they select the largest, strongest male members of their families for the milni.

Each milni participant is categorized according to their relation to the person getting married. For example, the bride might select her brother to participate, and the groom might select his brother to participate. The two brothers will be paired together for the milni. The same goes for fathers, uncles, cousins, and so on.

The list of participants for the milni will be whittled down to a few key relationships. Long = boring for a milni, so you might consider limiting this to only 3-5 pairs of relatives.

The final picks for the milni will face off in an epic show of physical strength. Pairs of relatives will meet in front of an audience, exchange gifts, and hug it out. But here’s the tricky part: the hug is a pretext, because the participants are actually using it as an opportunity to get a firm hold on each other and then lift each other into the air. The goal here is to pick up your milni-mate, clear off the ground, to show off your strength.

Remember: Everyone is keeping score. At the end of the milni, people will comment on how many of the bride’s relatives picked up the groom’s relatives, and vice versa. This is a laughing matter, and you should expect some hilarious photos and videos of this event.

Also, consider having some Icy Hot or other soothing muscle balm on hand. There may be injuries. But don’t worry: half of your guests are doctors.


All that being said, remember that this is YOUR wedding, and this is the twenty-first century. Ask your sister, or your transgender cousin, or your next door neighbor, or your best friend from college to participate! Skip the milni altogether! Have a 4-hour long milni! Do whatever makes you happy!

Make your own traditions, and have fun in the process – at the end of the day, your wedding is just one big party, and you might as well enjoy it.