AN INDIAN WEDDING
Wedding is the most solemn affair in India. A wedding ceremony in a Hindu family symbolizes a true Indian wedding as they are the ancient people of the land. A marriage in a Christian family has a tinge of western customs while one in a Muslim family has a colouring of Arab culture. But a Hindu marriage signifies the cultural traditions of India. Gradually many of the customs of marriage are being adopted by Muslims too. Many of the customs prevail among them since they were Hindus.
Although the customs have been changing with the change in times, a common feature till the fifties and sixties was the gay marriage procession. The bridegroom would sit on a decorated horse (actually mare) like a prince. The clothes are gay and costly. There used to be a sword buckled to his waist as if he comes to win the lady by force. Now when he enters the house he cuts the chord from which a sieve hangs. It signifies the victory. The ladies related to the bride welcome the bridegroom with ‘Aarati’, garlands and flowers. In some parts the bridegroom would recite some verses too. Now all these customs have been disappearing in cities. But in villages they still stay in some form of the other.
The wedding procession is accompanied by lights and fireworks. There may be a procession of cars that shows the status of the bridegroom who is at the end of the procession now generally in a decorated car. The status of the bride’s home speaks through the decorations and the dinner. The bride’s house looks itself like a bride. It is lighted as if it is Diwali day. Bands would accompany the procession. Sometimes a refined music played on instruments awaits the bridegroom.
The ‘baratis’ i.e. the people who accompany the bridegroom enjoy the bridal feast. The dish costs between rupees twenty and rupees five hundred in cities like Mumbai and Delhi where the feast has shifted from bride’s house to a five star hotel.
The bridegroom is taken to the ‘Mandapa’ where the marriage is solemnized in the presence of a large number of people and before ‘Agni’ (Fire) the nature god. Sometime, to make things easier and simple marriage may be solemnized in a temple too. Donations are given to different organizations by both the sides. The marriage and the expenditure on it becomes a status symbol among the rich. Sometimes the whole festivity may be marred by the demand dowry. The question does not arise among the rich as lakhs exchange hands without grudging. But it is sometimes a tormenting thing in the middle class families. If it is eliminated an Indian wedding is as gay and joyful personal occasion as Diwali is a national one.