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The History & Rituals of South Asian Weddings

The weddings in South Asia reflect the high-spirited attitude of South Asians towards their life and culture. For South Asians including Bengalis, Pakistanis, Indians and other South Asian groups weddings are not only about families coming and knowing each other together but also about individuals sharing a love and belief in religion (and culture). Below are a few ceremonies that complete south Asian Weddings which some families partake in and consider important:

Pre-Wedding Ceremonies

  • Roka (End of Search) – This marks the start of the formal relationship between and among the families of the couple. This small familial tradition is done to secure assurance in the relationship. Families would exchange gifts and sweets which symbolize the welcoming of both the family of the groom and the bride.

  • Chunni Chadana (Gifting of Scarf to the Bride) – This ceremony is just like the engagement tradition in Western countries. The parents of the groom will visit the house of the bride. The sister/sister-in-law of the groom will present the bride a red suit or sari which is token of accepting the bride in the family. The would-be mother-in-law of the bride will place a red scarf or chunni on the bride’s head and give her a few traditional jewellery. This will end when the couple exchange rings.

  • Sangeet – Here, folk songs for weddings are usually sung at the home of the couple while relatives and friends dance.

  • Mehndi – This is an important pre-Asian wedding ceremony ritual where Mehndi is brought by the groom’s family (or by the brides own family) to the bride’s place. It is applied to the hands of the bride/groom.

  • Jago – Jago is the steel pot that holds candles in it. In Indian tradition, the groom will traditionally live with their families whilst the bride moves in.

The family of the mother will arrive at the paternal home days before the wedding with the Jago will sing folk songs in a most boisterous and loudest way announcing their arrival and at the same time inviting neighbors to join their celebration.

The Asian Weddings Ceremony

Some families don’t opt for pre-wedding ceremonies whilst others do. After some/all of the pre-wedding rituals. The wedding day will arrive and rituals will be held at the home of the groom and the bride before the wedding.

At the Bride’s Home

  • Chuda – This is the gifting of red ivory bangles to the bride by the oldest maternal aunt or uncle.

  • Vatna or Maiyan – Vatna is the application of paste that is made from chickpea flour, mustard oil, and turmeric powder on the groom and bride by relatives and friends.

At the Groom’s Home

  • Sehrabandi – Vatna ceremony followed by the groom dressing up in a wedding attire. Then his sister will tie a sehra on his head. After this, witnesses will give cash and gifts as a token for the groom.

  • Ghodi Chadna – This is the final ceremony for Bengali weddings at the groom’s home. His sister-in-law will line his eyes using surma before leaving his home with a horse.

There are several wedding traditions and customs that are common in some religions in South Asia. Yet there are some traditions which are not. Some traditions and acts are based on selected religious teachings/guidelines, whilst others are not. Never the less all of Asian weddings celebrated are often filled with religion, tradition, selected ritual and love.

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