Halad & Mendhi
A few days before the wedding (in India normally the day before). The Bride and Groom each undergo the Halad(Haldi) Ceremony. These events are normally held at the respective persons house and are not done jointly.
The ceremony consists of two parts the first part is the Haldi ceremony. This is where the mother gets to clean her bride/groom for the last time. A special paste is made from turmeric, yogurt, oil, and rose water. This paste is then applied to the bride/groom and scrubbed in.
Next is the Tel Baan ceremony. Four small bowls are placed in front of the bride/groom. The bowls contain yogurt, oil, haldi, and henna powder. Using grass as an applicator, seven married women dip the grass in each bowl. Then touch the toes, knees, shoulders, cheeks, and hair (in that order) of the bride/groom. After seven married women have completed this, seven married men repeat the process in reverse order (start with hair). After this is completed non-married relatives can join in the fun.
That evening Mendhi is performed. This is where the bride (and relatives) receive henna tattoos. The brides is normally the most elaborate. It is also custom for the bride to get the grooms name hidden somewhere in the Mendhi for the groom to find.
In India at this point the bride/groom is not suppose to leave the house until the wedding ceremony. For this reason the ceremony is normally done the day before the wedding.
This ceremony is held the evening before the wedding. Traditionally this was held separately at the both the brides and grooms houses. Only the women in the family were invited. The women would sings songs and perform dances that are dedicated to marriage and the bride. As time went on the event became more elaborate and expanded to include the grooms side of the family. Now it is a huge celebration of performances for the bride and groom.
Everyone is invited to prepare a song or dance to perform at the Sangeet. Due to both families being very large we would appreciate it if performances were done mostly as group performances to keep the evening from running too late. See the videos below for an example performance.
The Baraat (ceremonial procession) begins with the groom’s family blessing the groom and putting the turban on his head (known as Sehra Bandhi). The Groom then mounts a decorated white mare. The procession is normally lead by the elders of the family and accompanied with music and dancing. The groom and his horse are covered in finery and do not usually take part in the dancing.
This ceremony is meant to symbolize the two families coming together as one. As the groom and his family approach the venue they are greeted by the brides family. After the two families meet they dance with one another for a short period.
The Milini is when the grooms family is received by the brides family. The elders of the bride’s family welcome their counterparts of the groom’s family by embracing them and presenting a gift. After their greetings are exchanged the groom is greeted by the brides mother in the seawall ritual.
After grooms party is received by the bride’s family and at the entrance to the wedding venue, The brides mom will welcome the groom by performing the aarti. Aarti is a holy ritual of fire to symbolize burning away ill-will and evils in the path of the Groom. She welcomes her son-in-law and places a teeka (red dot) on his forehead.
Jai Mala (Var Mala) is one of most significant rituals that are performed at the wedding ceremony. It is an exchange of garlands much like the exchange of wedding rings in an american ceremony. Following the baraat the bride and groom are moved onto an elevated stage where the ceremony is performed. The bride and the groom exchange their flower garland, by putting it around each other’s neck. Jai mala carries an important significance and implies mutual acceptance of both the bride and the groom towards each other.
Jai mala is one of the occasions, when fun takes over the wedding scene. When placing the garland around each others neck, the receiver of the garland must bow his/her head. This is seen as a gesture of submission. For this reason the groom normally refuses to bow as a sign of dominance. The relatives of the groom sometimes even lift him, so that the bride is not able to put the garland around his neck. At this, the brides family can even lift her and the two groups try to dissuade each other.
This is the fun part for bride’s sisters, where they steal the groom’s shoes once he sits for the ceremony. The shoes are only returned to the groom in exchange for a heavy ransom.