The art of henna has been practiced for over 5000 years in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East. Henna is traditionally used for special occasions like holidays,birthdays and weddings. The most popular of the traditions is the Mehndi (henna) Night where the bride, her family, relatives and friends get together to celebrate the wedding to come. The bride gets extensive henna patterns done on her hands and feet that go to her elbows and sometimes, knees. The night is filled with games, music and dance performances. The bridal patterns can take many hours and are often done by multiple henna artists. The family and friends will usually receive small designs on the backs of their hands as well. To a bride the darker the henna the better. Tradition holds the darker the stain the better the marriage and the better the mother-in-law will be! Also, as long as the henna stain appears on the bride, she doesn’t have to do any housework. Now, you can understand why the bride would want the henna to last a long time!
The Garter toss tradition has a bit of a barbaric origin. Back before the dark ages, brides were considered lucky and so was their wedding dress. After the ceremony, single men would practically trample each other, and the bride, so that they could tear off and keep a piece of her wedding gown. This is how the garter came to be. Bachelors would try to grab the garter as a lucky token. Centuries later the grooms then decided that they would be the one to take off the garter and throw it to the unwed men, saving the bride from being ambushed. Superstitions state that the lucky guy to grab the garter will be the next to wed.
The origin of the bouquet toss is much less barbaric. The bride would carry her bouquet for two reasons. To ward off evil spirits, and for the fragrance. During the middle-ages people did not have the luxury of daily baths. This is where the bouquet toss came in. The single women who also wanted a lucky token from the bride, would stand together in hopes to be the lucky one to catch the bouquet. If caught, they will hopefully be the next bride. The fragrance from the bouquet would make the lucky lady smell more attractive, in hopes to be the next one married. Many of today’s brides opt-out of the bouquet and garter toss, and choose to do an anniversary dance instead.
Have you ever thought about where the tradition of the white wedding gown came from? Brides wearing white gowns, started after 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. She decided to break from tradition, and instead of wearing more metallic silk colors, such as gold, and silver; she decided to wear a white, lace wedding gown. Before white wedding gowns, brides wore whatever dress they had. To complete the blushing bride look, Brides wore a veil to cover their faces. However, this tradition started way before Queen Victoria. In the dark ages, superstitious brides would wear the veil to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. Veils were also worn by brides as they walked down the aisle during an arranged marriage. That’s around the same time bridesmaids started. The maid of honor would hold the bride’s dowry and would give it to the groom after the ceremony, so he wouldn’t have the money before she married him.
Most Brides can’t wait to choose which of their friends get the honor of being one of their bridesmaids. Brides have had bridesmaids since before the dark ages, but their roles were very different then. To the horror of many of today’s brides, during the Renaissance period, brides started the tradition that all bridesmaids would dress like the bride. This was to ward off and confuse evil spirits from getting to the bride. From there it changed to all the bridesmaids would look alike. These are just some of the traditions, that have influenced today’s weddings.
We love being a part of the weddings of different cultures and traditions. Brian and Reena had a traditional Hindu wedding at the Westin in Mt Laurel New Jersey.
We find different cultures to be very inspiring! The different mix of colors, mixed metals and tradition really makes for a stunning and memorable event. After receiving their photos from Events Capture, we were curious about the Hindu wedding traditions. Here are a few things we found interesting;
Hindu brides have as many as 16 traditional elements of makeup and jewelry, that they choose for their wedding day. Each item is thought to enhance the natural beauty of the bride and bring out her inner goddess. Here are a few things that represent Hindu wedding tradition ;
Mangtikka This giant jewel is worn in the middle of the forehead, on top of the hair-parting. Mangtika’s are extremely traditional as they hang over the ajna chakra, the home of the body’s mind and intellect.
Bindi There are a variety of reasons why Hindus place these jeweled stickers between their eyes, not least of which is the belief that it represents the woman’s third eye. The bindi traditionally signified the wearer was married.
Karn Phool Meaning ‘ear flower’ these earrings can err on the side of ginormous. Often they are so heavy they hook into the bride’s hair for extra support.
Nath The Nath, or nosering, is considerably bigger than the standard Indian nose piercing today, it is still a wedding staple. In some regions, the Nath is meant only for married women.
Haar Hindu brides typically wear a range of jewelry which can include any items from the following list: chokers, heavy draping bibs, princess-length jeweled necklaces, long gold chains, or intricate collars. In some traditions, brides will layer these pieces while in others it is more common to only see a single intricate necklace.
Choora No matter where in India you’re from, no Hindu bride is complete without her bangles. Traditions vary as to what color and how many bangles there should be, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bride with bare arms on her wedding day. Bangles can be made of glass, gold, metal or ivory and will traditionally come in red, green, white, and gold. Modern brides usually match them to whatever color their dress is.
The Mehndi event is a colorful and fun celebration held the night before the wedding, which is traditionally celebrated by the women on the bride’s side of the family. Generally, a professional mehndi artist or relative will apply henna in intricate designs to the hands and feet of the bride and other women in the family. These intricate designs symbolize joy, beauty, spiritual awakening and offering. The bride’s mehendi sometimes goes half way to her knees!
The wedding dress can be a sari, a lehnga, or salwaar kameez, depending on what region of India the bride’s family is from. It will usually come in a bright, auspicious color like red, maroon, green, or gold and is embroidered head to foot in gold and silver thread. They’re usually majorly blinged out as well. There is no simple guide as to what the wedding dress will look like because it depends about 90% (or more) on the personal tastes of the bride. Modern brides deviate often from tradition and will wear dresses in all the colors of the rainbow, dripping in rhinestones or completely modest.
We were so happy to be a part of Brian and Reena’s special day!
For more information visit The Big Fat Indian Wedding Blog