South Asian Wedding Planning
Traditions Part 1
Now as we all know, you can’t help who you fall in love with and although Toronto is a pretty culturally diverse city, you still may not know what to expect with a South Asian Wedding. So I’m going to guide you through what the culture and traditions entail. Since there are many smaller cultures within South Asia, the weddings tend to have similarities but they do differ from each other in small rituals or traditions. I will be getting into the overall Indian bride and touching up on the Sikh culture as well.
Mehndi ceremony is an event that all Indian brides from different cultures all have, it takes place on the first night of a three-day wedding. There may be minor details that would be different but in general, it’s an event that is traditionally for the bride to celebrate with her closest female friends and family. There’s typically dancing, singing, music and food involved which makes this ceremony one to really enjoy. Sharing is caring, so not only does the bride get Mehndi done, but all her guests as well!
An Indian bride looks anything but plain, beauty is a major factor of the bride’s traditions and with this ceremony, there’s no exception. Traditionally, the bride would have up to sixteen adornments on her, which completes the colourful, accessorized Indian bride look and Mehndi is one of them. Mehndi ceremonies consist of turmeric paste (a staining substance from the Henna plant, also found in curry and mustard to make its colour) being applied to the bride’s hands, arms, feet and legs in the most intricate designs.
The bride is not allowed to step out of the house for a certain amount of time after this ceremony is done. Also, it is said with the tradition that the darker the Mehndi is on the bride, the more her groom will love her. Darken me up puh-leasee!
Besides for beauty and love, Mehndi is also used on the bride to reduce stress and keep the nerves less tense, due to its cooling properties. Hence, why it’s used on the hands and feet. This is needed since we all know weddings can be stressful, to say the least.
Alongside a Mehndi Ceremony, another ceremony that mostly occurs with Punjabi Sikh weddings is the Maiya Ceremony. Just like the Mehndi Ceremony, this one is done a couple of days prior to the actual wedding, but it involves both the bride and groom plus their families.
The Maiya Ceremony is a symbolic cleansing of the bride and groom that involves family members taking turns rubbing vatna (a mixture of flour and spices) over the couple among other rituals. This is done separately (bride and groom will perform this ceremony in different rooms and times) and it will be repeated the following day. Traditionally, the groom wears a turban but modern grooms have been opting not to and the bride wears a colourful jewel covered outfit, with her many adornments. This ceremony has to be conducted in the morning, before midday as the tradition states.
For the ceremony, the couple has to be seated on the floor with rangoli (a design made of colourful powder, flour and rice) placed in front of them and a rectangular piece of wood under their feet. There will be vatna placed on a tray and family members will use that to rub in their hair, face, arms and legs. Also, the family will hold a red scarf over their head with a few grass strands that are used to apply few mustard oil drops onto the bride or groom’s head. Another significant part of this tradition is an attempt to feed the bride or groom some sweet rice by their mothers while family members slap the mothers hands. After all is said and done, the rangoli is cleared by the mother with her hands and then she puts them on the house wall to indicate that there is a wedding in the house.
If these aren’t intricate, beautiful, detailed traditions; I don’t know what is. Now you have the knowledge either as guests or the bride or groom themselves of how a couple of South Asian traditions work.
Photo Cred: 1-3 Ben Benvie http://www.benbenvie.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Deneita being a recent graduate from George Brown College Special Events Planning Program, has always known the event planning industry was in her cards since the age of 17. From volunteering at countless big events such as Toronto Fashion Week, helping the designers prep their garments and dressing the models. Also, Canadian Screen Awards where she helped photographers grab the best dressed guests for the Academy. To interning for TIFF Bell Lightbox with the Events Department and working with the University of Toronto for their Spring Alumni Events. Her knowledge only grew fonder and her love for the industry only got much larger. With her experience in fashion, music, coordination along with her keen eye for details and not to mention creativity and organization, these attributes will only help her in her new love for weddings!