Everything You Need To Know About Indian Marriage Traditions

Everything You Need To Know About Indian Marriage Traditions

India is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and vibrant nations. It’s no surprise, then, that Indian wedding celebrations are incredibly rich in culture and tradition. Indian Marriage traditions are known for their opulent displays of color, music, and dance, as well as their elaborate rituals and rituals that take place over several days.

If you’re an Indian bride-to-be, there are several Indian wedding traditions that you can integrate into your wedding to make it truly authentic. Just keep in mind that, with over 30 different cultures within the continent of India, your family’s traditions could be very different from other Indian weddings you’ve attended in the past.

From the wedding food and the Indian wedding jewelry to the beautiful clothing and decor, no two Indian weddings are alike. Having photographed some truly extraordinary Indian Weddings in New York City, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular Indian wedding traditions that you can look ahead to.

Barni Band-hwana

The wedding rituals usually start fifteen days before the marriage day. For many Indian couples, the Barni Band-hwana ritual is the first step in their marriage journey. During this ritual, a piece of thread known as Mauli is tied around the hands of either the bride and groom or the bride and his parents. The purpose of this ceremony is to ask the gods for a safe marriage day and a long and happy marriage.

The Mayra

Referred to as the “Maternal Uncle’s Ceremony,” the Mayra is when the maternal uncle brings gifts for the mother of the bride and the groom. Among these gifts are the mother’s dresses for the wedding.

Sangeet & Mehendi

Sangeet is a pre-wedding celebration where the bride and groom’s families come together to celebrate with music, dance, and food. The bride’s family hosts the Sangeet, where the groom, her female family members, and guests get henna applied on their hands. This is an occasion for both sides of the family to get to know each other. Some families take this as an opportunity to affectionately tease the bride and groom.

The mehendi ceremony takes place during the sangeet. This is when henna is applied to the groom, her female family members, and guests. Depending on how many women attend, the family will employ two or three henna artists to design and apply the henna.

What is henna?

Henna is a permanent, orange-red dye made from the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant. The henna tattoo lasts about two weeks and is an integral part of Indian wedding traditions.


According to Indian wedding traditions, applying henna to the hands, feet, and arms of a woman is said to aid fertility, ward away evil, and attract positive energy. Hidden within the bride’s intricate artwork are the names of both the bride and groom, which the groom is meant to find as a further sign of good fortune.

There is also a superstitution surrounding henna. It’s said that a darker color can lead to a deeper bond with your husband and a greater chance of getting along with your mother-in-law. For this reason, many brides choose to let the henna dry and darkness.

The Wedding Procession

With most traditional Indian wedding ceremonies, the wedding day begins with the groom’s procession. This “ceremony within a ceremony” is called the Baraat, and it’s when the groom makes his way to the wedding altar, led by his entire family and friends.

This portion of the ceremony serves as the groom’s entrance. During this time, his friends and family dance and chant Indian marriage day wishes. This rousing spectacular takes place as he is ushered down the line either on the shoulders of his friends or on the back of a white horse.

During the Baraat, the groom wears an intriguingly designed Sherwani suit and an impressive Safa (turban) fitted with an ornate brooch known as a Kalgi. After the groom arrives, he is welcomed by the bride and her family. The couple then exchanges Milni Malas, which are flower garlands.

The groom’s family then welcomes the groom and his procession. His immediate family members took their place at the altar.

The Wedding Ceremony

Hindu wedding celebrations occur under a spectacular canopy known as a Mandap, which features beautifully colored fabrics. The canopy is decorated with colorful flowers and sits atop four massive pillars. Every pillar represents one of the four parents. Whether the wedding is held indoors or outdoors, a Mandap is constructed as an essential part of the ceremony.

At the front of the mandap, a fire is lit in a small dish. The fire represents Agni, which is the Hindu god of fire that gives life to the marriage. The fire is kept burning throughout the ceremony and serves as a witness to the vows exchanged between the bride and groom.

The groom, wedding guests, and the officiant then await the bride, who is accompanied down the aisle by her maternal uncle. Once she arrives at the alter, the bride and her groom are given rice to throw into Agni’s ceremonial fire.

As part of Indian wedding traditions, the ceremony begins with Kanyadaan, a ritual where the bride’s parents give away their daughter to the groom. The Pandit then ties their ceremonial scarfs together, and the bride and groom join hands to prepare for the Mangal Phera ritual.

Hand in hand, the bride and groom walk around the ritual fire 4 times. Every turn represents a major goal in their future together: Moksha, spirituality; Kama, personal gratification; Dharma, morality; and Artha, prosperity. In a practice called Havan, the couple is then given a mix of herbs, flowers, and rice which they offer to the holy fire to complete the prayers.

The next ritual is called the Saptrapadi, where the couple takes 7 steps together to show their support for each other in a happy marriage. Each step represents a pledge that they make to each other. The pandit then offers blessings for an abundance of happiness, children, food, and prosperity.

Ultimately, the groom will tie necklaces made of gold, black beads, and sometimes diamonds around the bride’s neck to symbolize their new bond as husband and wife. He will also apply a red powder to the middle of her forearm. To end the ceremony, friends and family will shower the pair with flowers and wish them happiness and prosperity.

Wedding Attire

The bride’s attire is just as ornate and traditional as the groom’s, with intricate beading, sequins, and delicate fabrics. She usually wears a lehenga (skirt) in shades of red, pink, orange, or gold, which is beautifully ornamented with shining mirrors, crystals, and sequins. She’ll complete the look with a traditional red saree representing good luck and happiness. Her saree is sewn with 24-karat gold thread and adorned with jewels. She may change her outfit 3 or 4 times during the various wedding rituals.

On her head, the bride wears a traditional headdress called a Maang Tikka. This piece is made of gold, silver, or diamond and hangs down the center of her forearm. It is often decorated with precious gems and stones. The groom usually wears a Kafni during the ceremony, which is a long shirt that extended to his knees.

The Reception Feast

A reception feast is a must for Indian weddings and will frequently have anywhere from 300 to 500 guests in attendance. Offers a plated menu is challenging due to many dishes being served with a gravy or sauce, so the food is served buffet-style instead. The menu will frequently feature up to 10 appetizers and 5 main entrees, with sides of rice, naan, and yogurt. The buffet is refilled throughout the night to keep it looking plentiful and ensure that no one goes home hungry.

Like most other wedding styles, the reception will also have professional photographers, videographers, a DJ, florals, favors, and cakes, all on a more lavish scale. Guest also like to throw money on the dance floor to show support for their happiness and prosperity.

Booking a professional photographer ensures that your Indian wedding traditions are captured with exceptional quality and care.

Indian weddings are rich in tradition, making them a lovely event to be a part of. The many rituals and ceremonies that take place during an Indian wedding represent the pair’s commitment to each other and their future together. There is no shortage of celebrations at an Indian wedding, from the gorgeous attire to the sumptuous feast served at the reception.