Hindu wedding ceremonies are long and elaborate rituals with customs that vary by region and community. A canopy adorned with flowers is erected, under which the couple sits with their family. Traditionally, a veil separates the bride and groom so they do not see each other; the veil is removed during a certain part of the ceremony. In the presence of fire, the divine witness, the couple chant vedic prayers and ask for blessings on their union. They offer sandalwood, sugar, rice, herbs, and ghee (clarified butter) to the fire in order that their prayers be answered by god. The couple exchange flower garlands as a symbol of their acceptance of the other as their partner in marriage; they may also exchange rings. A portion of the bride’s saree is tied to the groom’s clothes as a symbol of their union. The groom bestows on the bride a mangal sutra, a necklace signifying the masculine energy of Shiva. He also places sindhoor, a red powder, on the bride’s hair, solidifying her status as a married woman. The entire ceremony is usually completed in over an hour, but it can last longer depending on the rituals that are included.
The bride and groom, along with their families, greeted guests and received their blessings after the ceremony. Fireworks marked the celebration last night at the wedding of our friend’s brother.
This banquet was truly a feast. There were a variety of foods from different regions in India, as well as pizza, nachos, and a type of Chinese stir-fry. Desserts included traditional Indian sweets, ice cream, fondue, chocolate mousse, cakes, and fresh fruit.