wedding planner
about us
site map

BRO Features
Feature Story
Featured Events
Picture of the Month
Great Ideas
Wedding Topics
Latest Trends
Your First Home
Cooking for Couples
Romance & Money
Fit & Beautiful
Relationship Guide
Love Stories
Ask the Experts
Fun Stuff

The Green Corner
 Organic and  Sustainable Weddings

Destination Weddings

BRO Store
Favors & More



Laura Hunt

A Traditional Indian Wedding

Gold and Red - Fortune and Happiness

Text: Johanna Kaestner
Peter Atherton

In Hindi, the word "Ritu" means seasons. In searching for a wedding location, Ritu sought a venue where she and Ajit could have an elegant and private outdoor ceremony, to celebrate the changing season from summer to fall. In the grandness of Kohl Mansion, she found everything she was looking for. It epitomized Ritu and Ajit's wedding dreams: the feeling of home, along with the grand extravagance and opulence of Indian weddings.

Ritu and Ajit's wedding date, August 28, 2005, was an auspicious date for Hindus. This year, it was the day after Janamashtmi, the celebration of the birth of Krisnha, a Hindu god. There couldn't have been a better-chosen day, and, with the warm sunshine of this perfect late summer day, they felt it was truly a day made for them.

The wedding was planned by the bride's family and encompassed so much that it will be published in two excerpts. This month's topic is the traditional celebration.


One week before the wedding, the pooja is celebrated. It is a religious ceremony announcing the beginning of the wedding. About 50 of Ritu's family members and closest friends attended the ceremony conducted by Pundit Dhirendra Sharma, the same priest who officiated at the wedding. After the pooja, friends sang traditional and jolly wedding songs accompanied by an Indian drum. Several string lights, inside and outside of the house, and a colorful Rangoli (a painted design outside the bride's doorstep) announced to the neighbors the start of the wedding festivities. The purpose of the pooja is to pray for happiness on the day of the wedding and for prosperity, joy, and peace in the couple's married life. Many Indian gods are invoked during the pooja. The priest burns sweet-smelling incense, and the family offers flowers and sweets to the gods.


Two days before the wedding, the Mehndi (henna) and Sangeet (singing) party was celebrated. This is the traditional gathering of the bride and groom's relatives and friends.

Three professional Mehndi artists were present to paint intricate designs in henna on female guests' hands. The act of other women joining in the henna painting signifies good fortune and happiness for the new bride. Red is an auspicious color, and the red of the henna symbolizes happiness, fertility, and good fortune for the bride.
Mayuri Indian Cuisine, an Indian restaurant in Santa Clara, catered a wonderful, traditional, six-course dinner in the restaurant's attached hall. That morning, Ritu's hands and feet were decorated with intricate patterns of henna. The patterns included elaborate peacocks, a full profile of a bride and groom, and Ritu and Ajit's initials. The whole design took five hours to finish. If the henna changes to a very deep red, it means that the husband's love for his bride is great! Ritu's henna on her hands and feet turned a deep red. A professional Indian dance band performed during the first hour of the party, dedicating songs to the couple. After dinner, a group of mothers performed Indian wedding songs accompanied by an Indian drum.
As a sign of offering good luck and fortune to all the guests, Ritu's mother hand-wrapped hundreds of brightly colored Indian bracelets and packaged them with bindis (decorative stick-on jewelry that married Indian women wear) as party favors. To tie into the party's theme of "singing," Ritu's brother created hundreds of CDs (which featured a photo of the couple) of favorite Indian wedding songs to also distribute as party favors.


On the day before the wedding, Ritu's family welcomed Ajit's family into their house, to indicate the oneness of the two families, and that there is a meeting of minds and hearts between the two families. The purpose of this event is to welcome the baraat, which included about 35 people. "Baraat" stands for the entire groom's family, including all of their friends and extended family. Ritu's family welcomed Ajit's friends and family with brightly wrapped gifts to indicate the joining of the two families, and Ajit's family also exchanged gifts. After a prayer to Ganesh, the Hindu Elephant God known for his wisdom, Ritu slipped a golden "engagement ring" on Ajit's finger to signify their intention to be married. Gold is considered the most precious metal in Indian culture. The evening ended at Ritu's parents' house after a full, catered dinner.


On the morning of the wedding day, Ritu awoke to a perfect blue sky. Ritu's two bridal gowns were ready and packed for the ceremony. For the traditional Indian ceremony, there was a red and gold one with a red and gold veil. For the reception, there was a gold one with red undertones. Each gown was studded with Svarawoski crystals, and each gown was 20 pounds in weight.

Around 2 p.m., Ajit and his family arrived in a decorated white limousine. It stopped mid-way on the long driveway leading to the mansion. Ajit and his family were greeted by members of Ritu's family, and an Indian drum player (a dhol player) performing welcoming songs, indicating the start of the "baraat procession." Accompanied by the drum player, and DJ music, Ajit and his family danced down the long driveway, symbolizing their joy for the upcoming wedding. In India, the groom's family traditionally dances from door to door of every home in their village to gather up guests to go to the wedding.
 At the end of the long driveway, near the entrance to the mansion, a beautifully decorated lattice-work gate was set up where the Milni Ceremony was performed. Here, Ritu's parents and brother greeted Ajit's family, and adorned each member of the family with a fresh flower lei. Before the wedding ceremony began, guests enjoyed fruit tarts, bruschetta, Indian sweets, lemonade, a refreshing rose water punch, and soft drinks. This was to welcome all the wedding guests, and to begin the festivities.


The wedding ceremony took place on Kohl Mansion's grand lawn. The mandap, a kind of chuppah, was made of white lattice work and set-up on a stage with four large pillars. A three-foot copper statue of the Indian elephant god, Ganesh, was in the mandap, along with two red thrones for Ajit and Ritu. The couple's families sat on the periphery of the mandap, which was covered with flowers -- yellow, red, and orange roses and hydrangeas.
All the symbols used in a Hindu wedding ceremony were there: fresh flowers (to signify beauty), coconut (to signify fertility), rice and other grains (prosperity and good fortune), purified butter (to light the sacred fire), agni (the sacred fire, which symbolizes purity and energy), water (to wash away any obstacles in life).
To the tunes of Indian shennai music, Ritu's father accompanied her down the aisle, which was covered with rose petals. This ceremonial wedding music, played on flute-type brass instruments, signifies the beginning of the wedding. Ritu wore the red and gold lehenga and Ajit wore a gold and cream sherwani (the traditional Indian wedding costume for grooms.) Ritu walked up to the mandap, and the couple garlanded each other with fresh flower leis. This is called the Jaymala Ceremony, and it signifies the desire to be married.

Then, the priest guided Ritu and Ajit in lighting the sacred fire under the mandap, while reciting some prayers. The sacred fire symbolizes purity and source of energy. It is believed that the sacred fire dispels darkness and ignorance from the couple's life and leads them into the world of light and knowledge. Various other rituals followed.

 An important one is the "Mangal Phere," in which the bride and groom circle the sacred fire seven times. The groom leads the first three rounds; the bride leads the next four. As the couple circles, they repeat seven vows of love, marriage, health, and knowledge. At the end of the circling, the bride moves to the groom's left, taking her place closest to his heart. Another important ritual is Satapadi, or "Taking Seven Steps Together." This ritual involves walking alongside a line of seven nuts, which signify the seven principles of marriage in a Hindu ceremony.

The seven principles are: 1) We will be caring and patient with one another. 2) We will stand together in sorrow and bliss. 3) We will be respectful, honest, and true with one another. 4) We will travel the journey of life with love and harmony. 5) We will raise moral and virtuous children. 6) We will do everything to keep our family happy, healthy, and strong. 7) We will search together for knowledge, and beauty.

At the end of the ceremony, Ajit and Ritu walked down the aisle and were showered with rose petals by their guests.

In November, Ritu and Ajit invite you to participate at the their wedding reception!

Please read also:

A Traditional Indian Wedding
Part II
Wedding Cake Indian-style
Celebration of Henna


© 1995 - 2012