Mangalsutra literally means “holy thread,” and describes the marital necklace that a groom will fasten around his new wife’s neck as part of their wedding ceremony. This necklace is made with black beads and is worn only by married women. Mangalsutras may also include gold accents and/or red beads — customs differ by family and geographic region.
Married women traditionally wore their mangalsutra daily after their wedding to bring good luck and long life to their husbands. In modern times, it is less common for married women to wear these necklaces on a daily basis, but many Indian women will break out their special necklace for religious ceremonies and weddings. Because this is typically a very simple necklace, many women will wear the mangalsutra in addition to other jewelry, including additional necklace(s).
Indian weddings are a beautiful hodgepodge of traditions that vary according to geography, religious preference, and generation. Some Indian weddings will include many traditions, all carried out in Sanskrit, while others will be much more modern and delivered in English. There’s no “right” way to get married. Below are some traditions that are common for the bride to participate in during her Hindu wedding.
Most Common . . .
- Mehndi – The bride and several female friends and family members gather to decorate their hands (and usually also the bride’s feet) with henna paste in floral and paisley designs. This occurs a day or two before the wedding ceremony.
- Chuda – The bride’s maternal uncles place wedding bangles on her arms the morning of her wedding ceremony. Her family members shower her with gifts.
- Haldi – The bride’s family applies turmeric paste to the bride’s skin a day or two before her wedding so her skin glows on her wedding day.
- Kalire – Just after the chuda ceremony, the bride’s sisters or female cousins will tie bells to her chudas to complete her wedding outfit.
- Red Lehenga or Sari – The bride will usually wear a red lehenga or sari on her wedding day, though many modern brides choose pink or maroon instead of traditional fire engine red.
- Mangalsutra – During the ceremony, the groom will fasten a marital necklace, or mangalsutra, around his new wife’s neck. This is made with black beads and is worn only by married women.
- Vidaii – At the end of the ceremony, the bride and groom leave the room while the bride’s parents walk behind them. The bride throws puffed rice behind her, over her head, while her mother and other female relatives try to catch the rice in their shawls. This is a solemn event which signifies the bride leaving her familial home and joining that of her new in-laws.
Less Common . . .
- Secrets and Wishes from Married Women – Some priests will allow special time at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony for the bride’s married female relatives to join her on the mandap and whisper secrets and well wishes into her ears. These are meant to be tips and tricks for how to have a long and happy marriage, but sometimes people throw some fun into the mix!
- Toe Rings – In some South Indian weddings, we’ve seen a break in the ceremony for the bride’s brothers or male cousins to place toe rings on her toes. We’re not sure of the significance but think it’s such a lovely tradition that we had to include it here!
Did we miss any of your favorite bridal traditions during a Hindu wedding? Share your thoughts with us by visiting our contact page!
Pantone’s color of the year for 2017 is “Greenery,” a shade of green so divine that we feel like becoming gardeners just to experience more of it. But the sad reality is that we don’t have green thumbs, and that means we need to turn to retail therapy to get our Greenery fix. Here are our favorite finds that will make your wedding a Greenery-inspired wonderland:
Green earrings are so sweet for your flower girl’s gift, or as a special treat for your bridesmaids.
This glamorous gold and green cuff would be a perfect accessory for your sangeet lehenga.
Do the men in your wedding party feel adventurous? Could you convince them to wear bow ties? Because This. Is. The. Best.
Who says your wedding shoes have to be gold or silver? We like the idea of mixing it up with some studded green sandals.
Scarves are always in style, and infinity scarves are particularly hot right now. These make a lovely gift for the women who attend your mehndi, and bonus: they’re totally affordable!
Bindis are always fun, whether for yourself or as gifts for the women in your life. These sweet green sparkles would liven up anyone’s look!
What’s your favorite way to inject Greenery into your wedding, readers?
The choora ceremony (also called chuda, chura, or chooda) describes the gift of wedding bangles to the bride by her maternal uncles before her wedding ceremony. This may occur the night before the wedding, or the morning of the festivities. The bride’s family sits on the floor, and everyone present covers their heads, including the bride and her uncles.
The choora are immersed in a mixture of milk and water, while the bride sits with her eyes closed, as she is not to see the choora before they are on her hands. Milk is used in many Hindu rituals, likely because of its link to the sacred cow, and because it is considered pure and cleansing. While the bride’s eyes are closed, her maternal uncles will place the choora on her wrists, and her female family members will gift her jewelry, clothing, or money to wish her well on her wedding day.
The bride’s family will also tie a red thread around her wrist, called a moli (or mauli). In addition, the bride’s unwed sisters and female cousins will tie kalire to her first choora on each hand.
Choora are special occasion bangles, not to be worn again. They are wider than most bangles, and because they are to be worn as a set they increase in size so the bangles farthest up the bride’s arm do not pinch her skin. Many modern brides will ask that their uncles match their chooras to their wedding outfits.
Traditionally, brides wore chooras for a long time — usually one year, or until their mother-in-law granted them permission to remove the bangles. This practice was a way of noting that the young woman was a newlywed even after her mehndi wore off, though it is less common in this age of engagement rings and wedding bands.
Sabyasachi just dropped his Spring 2017 Udaipur Collection on Insta, and it is P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L. (Indian people ARE good at spelling!) Here are our takeaways, ideas for adapting this couture style to fit your budget, and some pictures for your viewing pleasure:
Floral is everything.
Delicate floral patterns are peppered throughout this collection. It is spring, after all, and what is more “spring” than flowers? Floral is hot on the Western runways as well, so you can be on-trend at an Indian wedding even if you’re not wearing Indian clothes.
Wedding parties don’t have to match.
Complementary colors look chic, too! We’re entering a period of experimentation on the color wheel. Dress your bridesmaids in red, and your groomsmen in blue. Or pick a rainbow of colors for each, and pair up matching bridesmaids and groomsmen to enter the ceremony together. Pick a vibrant color for your bridesmaids and a muted version of the same color for your groomsmen. Better yet: try a monochromatic look. Color is your friend – play with it!
Punjabi jutti are cool again.
Well, assuming they were ever cool in the first place. But they’re definitely cool now.
Groomsmen can look good, too.
It’s not just about your ‘maids anymore! Dress your groomsmen in fun colors . . . maybe even in floral?
Gift-giving is a common custom in Hindu weddings. The wedding is a celebration, and we give gifts as part of that celebration. Gifts are given to the guests, members of your own family, members of your new in-laws’ family, the priest, and maybe even the vendors. Guests may be small, like wedding favors, or more significant, like saris and jewelry.
Kalichari are an example of one of the gifts you might expect to give or receive at a Hindu wedding. The term “kalichari” commonly refers to gold, silver, or cash given by the groom to his female relatives or to his bride’s female relatives. Small silver rings are a nice gift for younger female relatives, but it is now common to see grooms giving out cash and jewelry as kalichari. Yet another reason we love going to Indian weddings!