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Essential Guide to Hindu Wedding Traditions & Their Meaning

Essential Guide to Hindu Wedding Traditions & Their Meaning

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Ever asked your elders why certain traditions are followed from generation to generation with such unwavering faith? Hindu wedding traditional in fact each have a deeper meaning, scientific or otherwise, marking each act as one of absolute importance – and here are a few.

Significance of Sindoor And Tilak

An act done so often and routinely in almost all Indian ceremonies – and on numerous occasions during a wedding – the application of a tilak on the forehead holds meaning beyond what most of us know. The point where our eyebrows meet is seen as a coming together of nerves, a confluence of energy which is brought into focus by the tilak.

Similarly, sindoor on the bride’s maang is just as signification. Physiologically beneficial, traditionally sindoor is made with a combination of turmeric lime and mercury – elements that are said to influence sexual drive in the body by controlling blood pressure. It’s anti-stress and erogenous properties make it a sign of the married women, making it inappropriate in India to be worn by unmarried woman.

The Story Behind The Mehendi

The rumoured belief of the deep mehendi colour being a sign of a healthy marriage is one that is often quoted, but henna has other properties as well. When blended well and organically, the herb itself is medicinal. With inherent stress relieving characteristics which affect the nerve endings in the palm, henna has cooling properties which calm the body. Traditionally, henna is not applied in winter months as it can make you sick.

The Science And Significance Of The Bichua

A thing of beauty, the toe-ring is a symbol of the married woman in Indian culture – existent pan India in various cultures. Again connected to nerve endings, the particular nerve ending at that toe is said to connect to the uterus. The pressure regulates blood flow and keeps in check the reproductive system and menstrual cycles. The ring is a sign of fertility – keeping in check the prana or force of life in the woman – marking a connection between the uterus and the heart.

Fasting Before The Ceremony – Vratham In Tamil Nadu

The day before the wedding, or the morning of the ceremony, the bride and groom fast till the first set of rituals are over. Most often followed in South Indian wedding ceremonies, the fast – vratham – is considered a prayer for a prosperous and successful married life. The fast itself is scientifically a detox, giving the digestive organs a break and cleansing the body.

The fast is complimented by a ceremony signifying growth, where the married woman of the household allow grains to sprout in water for a day and then immerse the sprouted grains into water to feed the fishes.

Saat Phere / Saptapadi – A Legal Bind

Where science and biology rule a lot of the Hindu wedding traditions, the idea of the Saat Phere is one that is primarily legal. A bind of good faith, the bride and groom make promises as the walk around the fire seven times, each ‘padi’ signifying the sealing of an obligation which is witnessed by the family. The flame itself represents the witnessing of such promises by a higher power, forging a bond with is unbreakable.

Grah Pravesh – Entering Her New Home With Flourish

An extension of the wedding ceremony is when the bride enters her new home for the first time. Not only is she welcomed as a goddess signifying prosperity and fertility coming into the home, but she is also seen as the symbol of purity. In literal translation, the bride kicks over a kalash of rice and coins – the former signifying fertility (as grain) and the later the coming of wealth and Lakshmi in the home.

In some cultures, the bride steps in a thal of aalta, marking deep red footsteps as she walks in, a trace which is believed to be Lakshmi’s homecoming.

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