A glossary of terms relating to Indian weddings:
Agni – the flame or small controlled fire that is lit and maintained during the wedding ceremony to symbolize the fire-deity
Antarpat – a large shawl or decorated cloth that is held between the bride and groom to symbolize the moment of their first meeting. Usually held by brothers or male cousins of the bride and groom.
Bangles – Indian bracelets. Sometimes called churis, churas, chooras, choodas, or chudas.
Baraat – the symbolic arrival of the groom to the wedding venue. Sometimes happens on a horse.
Bhangra – Indian dancing. Specifically, Punjabi-style dancing.
Choora – wedding churis worn specifically by the bride
Churis – Indian bracelets. Sometimes called bangles, churas, chooras, choodas, or chudas.
Haldi – refers both to the Indian spice turmeric and to the ceremony where family members of the bride and groom apply a turmeric paste to the couple before the wedding for good luck.
Henna – see Mehndi below.
Jutti – refers to the elf-like shoes that are traditional for men to wear with Indian clothes. Often called “Punjabi jutti,” this type of footwear is traditionally found in northern India, especially in the Punjab region. Sometimes called jooti, joote, joothe, or jaat.
Kalichari – commonly refers to gold or silver jewelry, or cash given by the groom to his female relatives or to his bride’s female relatives.
Kalire – Refers to the metal ornaments which often hang from Punjabi brides’ wedding churas. Usually gifted to the bride by her sisters. Sometimes called kalira, kaleera, or kaleere.
Kanyadaan – In the modern context, this can be generally thought of as the bride’s family entrusting her to her soon-to-be husband. Some couples feel that this ceremony is outdated and eliminate it.
Mandap – temporary structure erected at the wedding venue where the wedding ceremony takes place. Sometimes very elaborate. Similar to an arbor or chuppah.
Mehndi – refers both to the decorative henna tattoos given to the bride and her family and friends as well as the celebration prior to the wedding where this occurs
Milni – the ceremonial meeting of all the men from each of the soon-to-be-wedded couple’s family
Moli – a red thread worn around the wrist after attending a puja.
Payal or Polki – gold or silver anklets, often worn by brides and young girls
Puja – a formal Hindu religious ceremony
Rangoli – flowers or paste artfully arranged in a pattern, usually on a floor. Frequently looks like a paisley design, or mimics the form of Hindu gods. Often brightly colored.
Roka – engagement ceremony
Sangeet – a celebratory dinner prior to the wedding day, typically including musical and dance performances by friends and family of the couple.
Saptapadi – considered the most important element of the Hindu wedding ceremony, the saptapadi (“seven steps”) ceremony consists of the couple circling the agni seven times in order to consecrate their wedding vows.
Sehrabandi – a headdress worn by the groom in many Hindu ceremonies.
Surma – kohl; black eyeliner.
Vidhi – a ceremony that takes place the day prior to wedding day to “purify” and bless the bride and groom
Zari – metal embroidery, usually gold or silver in color, on Indian attire.