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Hindu wedding rituals may vary in detail depending on which part of India the bride and the groom come from. Notwithstanding regional variations and diversity of languages, culture, and customs, the basic tenets of a Hindu marriage are common throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Basic Steps of a Hindu Wedding
While various regional steps are followed by different sects of Hindus across India, the following 13 steps form the core of any type of Vedic wedding ceremony:
Pre- and Post-Wedding Rituals
Besides the above mandatory rituals, most Hindu weddings also include a few other fringe customs that are observed before and soon after the marriage ceremony.
Typical of an arranged marriage, when the two families agree on the marriage proposal, a betrothal ceremony known as roka and sagai are held, during which the boy and the girl may exchange rings to mark their vows and sanctify the agreement.
It may be noted that on the day of the wedding, an auspicious bath or Mangal Snan is arranged, and it is customary to apply turmeric and sandalwood paste on the body and face of the bride and the groom. Most girls also like to wear Mehendi or Henna tattoos on their hands and feet.
In a light and informal setting, a custom of singing or Sangeet, mainly by the women of the household, is also organized. In certain communities, the maternal uncle or maternal grandfather presents the girl with a set of bangles as a symbol of their blessings. It is also customary that the husband gifts the wife a necklace called mangalsutra after the marriage ceremony to complete the rituals.
The wedding ceremony effectively concludes with the ritual of Doli, symbolic of the happiness of the bride's family in sending off their girl with her life partner to start a new family and live a happy married life. Doli comes from the word palanquin, which alludes to the carriage that was used in olden times as a mode of transport for the gentry.
By Subhamoy Das
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