What Happens at Hindu Wedding Ceremony?

Joyful Hindu bride

Weddings, one of the 16 Samskaras of Hindu, hold a special place in every culture, and Hindu weddings are no exception. They are rich in traditions, symbolism, and rituals that reflect the deep-rooted cultural values of Hinduism. A Hindu wedding is not merely a union of two individuals; it is a sacred bond between two families and a celebration of love, commitment, and spiritual harmony.

Pre-Wedding Rituals: Setting the Stage

Before the wedding day arrives, Hindu weddings are preceded by a series of pre-wedding rituals that add charm and significance to the overall celebration. These rituals vary across different regions of India but share a common purpose of invoking blessings, purifying the couple, and preparing them for their married life.

1. Kanya Aagaman: Welcoming the Bride

The pre-wedding rituals usually commence with the arrival of the bride, known as Kanya Aagaman. The bride, adorned in exquisite traditional attire, enters the wedding venue accompanied by her family members, creating a delightful atmosphere filled with anticipation and joy.

2. Henna Ceremony: Artistry and Blessings

One of the most cherished pre-wedding rituals is the Henna ceremony, also known as Mehndi. Intricate and beautiful henna designs are applied to the bride’s hands and feet, symbolizing good luck, fertility, and marital bliss. This artful tradition is accompanied by lively music, dance performances, and blessings from family and friends.

3. Ganesh Puja: Invoking the Divine

Before any auspicious occasion, Hindus seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. In the Ganesh Puja, prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha, seeking his divine presence and guidance for a smooth and blessed wedding ceremony.

4. Sangeet: A Melodious Celebration

The Sangeet ceremony is a joyful celebration of music and dance. Family members and friends come together to perform traditional songs and dances, expressing their happiness for the soon-to-be-wed couple. It is an evening filled with laughter, merriment, and heartfelt performances.

5. Mehndi Rasam: A Splash of Vibrant Colors

During the Mehndi Rasam, turmeric paste is applied to the bride and groom’s bodies as a symbol of purification and an auspicious start to their married life. This colorful ritual brings a vibrant touch to the wedding celebrations and signifies the couple’s readiness to embark on their new journey together.

The Wedding Day: Sacred Union

The wedding day is the culmination of all the pre-wedding rituals and the most significant day in a Hindu wedding. It is a grand affair where family, friends, and loved ones come together to witness the sacred union of the bride and groom.

1. Wedding Venue: Sacred Space

The wedding ceremony takes place in a beautifully decorated wedding venue, often adorned with flowers, colorful drapes, and intricate designs. The venue becomes a sacred space, exuding a sense of divine energy and sanctity.

2. Wedding Ceremony: Rituals and Vows

The Hindu wedding ceremony, known as Vivaha or Vivaah, is a blend of ancient traditions and Vedic rituals. It is conducted by a priest, who guides the couple through a series of sacred rituals, symbolizing their union and commitment. The ceremony begins with the Kanyadaan, where the bride’s father gives her away to the groom, signifying the transfer of responsibility and guardianship.

3. Key Rituals: Symbolism and Sacred Actions

The Hindu wedding ceremony is enriched with numerous rituals, each holding deep symbolic meaning. Some of the key rituals include:

  • Mangal Sutra: The groom ties a sacred thread, known as the Mangal Sutra, around the bride’s neck, symbolizing their eternal bond of love and companionship.
  • Seven Steps (Saptapadi): The couple takes seven vows around a sacred fire, representing their mutual promises and shared responsibilities in their married life. Each step signifies a specific commitment, such as love, trust, respect, and fidelity.
  • Exchange of Garlands: The bride and groom exchange flower garlands, symbolizing their acceptance and love for each other.
  • Blessings from Elders: The couple seeks blessings from their parents and elders, who shower them with rice or flower petals, signifying prosperity, fertility, and happiness.

4. Married Life: Embarking on a New Journey

As the wedding ceremony concludes, the couple is officially married and embarks on their new journey together. They are now partners for life, bound by love, respect, and mutual support. The wedding ceremony not only unites two individuals but also brings two families together, forming a lifelong bond.

Post-Wedding Celebrations: Joy and Festivity

After the wedding ceremony, the celebrations continue with various post-wedding rituals and festivities, which differ based on regional customs and traditions. These celebrations offer an opportunity for family and friends to rejoice, bless the couple, and extend their warm wishes.

1. Wedding Reception: Grand Celebration

The wedding reception is a grand affair where the couple is officially introduced to the extended family and friends. It is a time of jubilation, feasting, and cultural performances. Guests shower the newlyweds with blessings, gifts, and well-wishes, creating a joyous and memorable atmosphere.

2. Wedding Party: Dance, Music, and Merriment

The wedding party is an extension of the reception, where family and friends join in the celebration through music, dance, and lively performances. It is a time for everyone to come together, let loose, and rejoice in the union of two souls.

Aspects of Hindu Wedding Traditions

The Vedic rituals play a pivotal role in Hindu weddings. The hymns and chants, taken from the Vedas, guide the ceremony and bless the couple.

Marriage rituals such as the exchange of flower garlands, tying the nuptial knot, and offering prayers to the ceremonial fire are some of the key traditions. These rituals are believed to ward off evil spirits and bestow the couple with prosperity.

But there are more aspects of Hindu marriage that have their own significant values. They are:


The Mandap is a significant element of Hindu weddings, whether they’re in India, Nepal, or elsewhere. It is a temporary structure, often lavishly decorated with bright flowers, fabrics, and intricate motifs. The Mandap serves as the sacred venue for wedding rituals.

Here, the couple sits before the holy fire or Agni, which serves as the divine witness to their marriage. The couple takes their vows and performs the various rituals under this structure. The fire element in the center of the Mandap signifies purity and divine presence.

Bride’s Dress

The bride’s attire in a Hindu wedding is a gorgeous ensemble, symbolizing the joy and importance of the occasion. The wedding dress varies depending on regional practices. In North India, brides typically wear a Lehenga – a three-piece outfit consisting of a blouse, a skirt, and a stole. The bridal Lehenga is often red, signifying prosperity and fertility.

In South India, brides traditionally dress in a Kancheepuram silk saree, usually in shades of red, pink, or yellow. The saree is draped elegantly and paired with a matching blouse. Both Lehengas and sarees are meticulously embroidered with intricate gold designs.

Regardless of the style, the bridal outfit is usually elaborate, adorned with precious jewelry, and often heirlooms passed down generations.

Role of the Father

In a Hindu wedding, the father of the bride has a pivotal role. He participates in the ‘Kanyadaan’, an emotional and significant ritual where he entrusts his daughter to the groom. This ceremony symbolizes the passing of responsibility from the father to the groom. The father also seeks assurances from the groom about the values of righteousness (Dharma), prosperity (Artha), love (Kama), and liberation (Moksha) that he will provide for his daughter.

Role of the Brother

The brother of the bride also has a special role in a Hindu wedding. During the ritual of ‘Kanyadaan’, the bride’s brother often places rice in his sister’s hands, which is then poured onto the groom’s hands, signifying the wealth and prosperity that the bride brings to her new family.

Another ritual called ‘Saptapadi’ or the seven steps taken around the holy fire involves the bride’s brother too. In some communities, for each of the seven steps, the bride’s brother places puffed rice (parched rice) in the bride’s hands, which she then offers to the fire. This act seeks prosperity and abundance for the married couple.

In some cultures, the bride’s brother accompanies the couple in their first journey as a married couple to the groom’s house, further highlighting the protective and supportive role he plays in his sister’s life.

The Wedding Venue and Decor

Hindu weddings are usually grand events. The wedding venue is decorated with bright colors, floral arrangements, and twinkling lights. This setting creates an enchanting backdrop for the nuptial ceremony, reflecting the joy and vibrancy of the occasion.

The Role of Guests at a Hindu Wedding

Wedding guests play a significant role in Hindu weddings. Their presence is not only for celebration but also to bear witness to the holy union. They shower the couple with flower petals and parched rice, signifying their blessings and good wishes.

The Wedding Party and Reception

Following the wedding ceremony, a lavish reception is hosted by the groom’s family. This is a time for joy, camaraderie, music, and dance, adding another layer of splendor to the event. The bride and groom, in their resplendent attire, greet the guests, and there’s an exchange of gifts.

Attires and Jewellery

Indian Brides

The bride and groom are adorned in traditional attire, with the bride often dressed in a beautifully embellished lehenga or saree, and the groom in a stylish sherwani. Intricate henna designs are applied to the bride’s hands and feet. Wedding jewelry, often gold, further enhances their festive look.

Hindu Weddings in Different Regions

South India

In South India, wedding ceremonies are a beautiful tapestry of unique rituals and customs, each narrating a tale of divine significance.

A signature feature of South Indian weddings is the “Kanyadaanam”, an emotionally charged moment. The bride’s father places her hand into the groom’s, entrusting him with his most precious treasure. He implores the groom to care for his daughter, respect her individuality, and stand by her in all circumstances. This act reaffirms the solemn responsibility that marriage entails, laying the foundation for a partnership of trust and respect.

Next, the “Thaali” or “Mangalyam” ceremony takes place. The groom ties a sacred necklace, the Thaali, around the bride’s neck. This necklace, usually made of gold and strung with black beads on a yellow thread, is the South Indian equivalent of the wedding ring.

It’s a symbol of matrimony and protects the couple from evil eyes. The moment is accompanied by the auspicious sounds of the “Nadaswaram” (a traditional South Indian wind instrument) and “Thavil” (a percussion instrument), creating a divine ambiance.

South Indian weddings also include the “Saptapadi” or the seven steps around the sacred fire, similar to the North Indian “Saat Phere”. However, in South India, the bride’s saree is tied to the groom’s dhoti before taking these steps. Each step has a specific vow, expressing commitment towards aspects like health, family, prosperity, and lifelong togetherness.

North India

North Indian weddings, while sharing the core philosophy of Hindu marriages, exhibit their regional flavors and traditions.

One of the iconic rituals is the “Saat Phere” or seven circumambulations around the sacred fire. With each round, the couple makes a specific vow, seeking blessings for their married life. This ceremony is considered the heart of a North Indian wedding, symbolizing the eternal bond and seven lifetimes of togetherness.

The “Mangalsutra” ceremony is another significant ritual. Similar to the South Indian “Thaali” tradition, the groom ties a “Mangalsutra”, a necklace of black and gold beads, around the bride’s neck. It’s a symbol of love, trust, and marital bliss. The couple also exchanges garlands, a ceremony is known as “Jaimala”, signifying their acceptance of each other.

One unique ritual in North India is the “Vidaai”. After the ceremonies, the bride throws handfuls of rice and coins over her shoulder towards her parental home. This poignant moment symbolizes her repayment of debt and blessings to her parents and marks the bride’s transition from her maiden home to her marital home.

The diversity of India is distinctly reflected in its weddings, which, while maintaining the core principles of Hindu marriage, weave in regional customs and traditions. Each ritual is a poignant symbol of the spiritual and emotional journey that marriage is.


Nepali Wedding (Image source)

Nepal, home to a diverse range of ethnic communities, hosts an array of unique wedding traditions. Although influenced by Hindu rituals due to the prevalence of Hinduism, Nepali weddings also reflect their indigenous customs.

The wedding process usually begins with the “Swyambar” or the engagement ceremony. In this event, akin to the “ring ceremony” in many cultures, the groom places a ring on the bride’s finger, marking the start of their commitment.

The “Kanyadaan” or giving away of the daughter is a significant ritual, similar to South Indian weddings. The bride’s parents entrust their daughter to the groom, symbolizing her transition from her maiden family to her husband’s family.

The “Pani Grahan” is a unique ritual in Nepali weddings. The groom takes the bride’s hand and promises to protect her throughout life. This act signifies their union and the responsibilities they will share as a couple.

As in Indian weddings, Nepali weddings also involve “Saptapadi” or seven vows taken while circumambulating the sacred fire. Each round is associated with a particular vow for mutual respect, love, and prosperous life.

The “Bidai” or farewell of the bride is an emotional moment in the wedding. The bride leaves her parental home to start a new life with her husband. The ceremony is filled with mixed emotions of joy for the newlyweds and sadness for the parting of the daughter.

In many communities in Nepal, another interesting ritual is the “Jutta Hidnu or Lukaunu”. This playful ceremony involves the bride’s family stealing the groom’s shoes. The groom, or his party, must then negotiate and pay a “ransom” to get the shoes back.

Despite the shared roots with Hindu traditions, Nepali weddings stand out with their distinctive customs, making them a fascinating aspect of the rich cultural tapestry of Nepal.

A Hindu wedding ceremony is a magnificent blend of ancient traditions, sacred rituals, and joyous celebrations. From the pre-wedding rituals that set the stage to the grand wedding day and post-wedding festivities, every moment is filled with deep symbolism, cultural significance, and an outpouring of love and blessings.

It is a union not only of two individuals but also of two families, marking the beginning of a lifelong journey together. A Hindu wedding ceremony is a testament to the rich heritage, values, and spirituality of Hinduism, creating memories that last a lifetime.