Indian Wedding Traditions: Bride

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!

What Kind of Mehndi Design Should I Choose?

Mehndi is a fun treat for special occasions, like Indian weddings and big Hindu holidays. Because we don’t get to wear it often, it can feel like a feast-or-famine situation, where you decide you want full-on henna on both hands, front and back, anytime you get the chance.

And you know what? We’re totally fine with that.

But because our opportunities to apply mehndi to our hands are limited, sometimes we want to explore our options. What, you didn’t know there were options? There are different types of mehndi patterns, sometimes called “Arabic,” “Moroccan,” or “traditional,” but the safest bet for finding inspiration for what kind of henna design you want for your hands is to hit the Google machine and find examples of cool designs you like. Most mehndi artists can work from inspiration to create something just for you, or try to copy a design exactly, if that’s what you want.

And, as we hinted to above, you can choose to get henna applied on only one hand or both, on only the front or only the back of your hand (or both), or even on another body part entirely. Usually only the bride has mehndi on her feet, so we’d suggest that you not upstage the bride on her big day by copying her. But we’ve seen people get mehendi on their bicep or their back, and that’s fine, too. Just remember to leave time for drying!

And if you get henna on both hands, front and back, remember that it’s going to be super hard to use your cell phone or eat or go to the bathroom for a few hours. Beauty is pain, y’all.

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.

   

 

 

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!

Payal

“Payal”  (or sometimes “polki”) refers to gold or silver anklets commonly worn by girls and women when dressing in Indian clothes. Payal can be elaborate or simple. They frequently have bells on them, so a woman’s every step will result in some pleasant music. These are far from mandatory for a wedding, but they’re a fun addition to your outfit if you want to add a bit more bling! They’re also the perfect accessory to the henna a bride wears on her feet.

  

Fun fact: “Payal” is also a popular female name among Indian people!

What to Expect: Mehndi

If you are anything like most Indian brides, dear bride-to-be, you are currently engaged, knee-deep in wedding planning, and ready to start planning your mehndi party, but you have no idea where to begin. Unique to Indian weddings, mehndi parties are one of the hardest parts to plan. What do you need? How much will it cost? How do you find someone who can actually do your mehndi well enough for the big day?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Continue reading “What to Expect: Mehndi”