Let’s be honest, Indian weddings are overwhelming for everyone involved -- the bride, groom, and all their guests. There are so many traditions that differ between religion and region of India, and there are tons of events to keep track of what we’ve forgotten why we do them or what they mean in the first place. Here’s your guide to the events you’ll most often experience at an Indian wedding and the symbolic, philosophical, and spiritual meaning behind them.
Sangeet, which literally translates to “music”, is an event held a few days before the wedding and is filled with dance, music, and vibrant colors. In the olden days, women of all ages gathered around and took turns singing songs and dancing. This represented well wishes to the bride for the life she was about to start. Today, Sangeets are typically co-ed and usually marks the first time both families are meeting one another.
If either family is Gujarati, you might see dandiya-raas and Garba, a traditional folk dance from the region of Gujarat performed with sticks and rotating partners. Sometimes, if both sides of the family are Gujarati, it’s possible the Garba will replace the Sangeet entirely.
What to wear to a Sangeet
Stick to bright colors and outfits that are easy to move in. You’ll most likely be dancing and will want to be wearing something comfortable! While black is okay to wear to a Sangeet, you won’t find many people wearing it since the Sangeet is meant to be a colorful night. Here are a few suggestions:
The Mehndi (Henna)
Occasionally combined with the Sangeet, the Mehndi party is where the bride’s guests have mehndi, or henna, applied to their hands. Mehndi is an herbal paste associated with positive spirits and good luck. The bride typically gets her elaborate and intricate mehndi drawn on her hands, arms, and feet, prior to the Sangeet. Aunties say, the deeper the color of the bride's mehndi, the stronger the love between the couple. The groom's name is sometimes painted somewhere within the intricate patterns. Long ago, the groom would find his name on his wife's hands as an ice breaker on their wedding night.
What to wear to a Mehndi
If you’re planning on getting your mehndi done, try and wear something sleeveless or with short sleeves. This will ensure you won’t get your outfit dirty or mess up your beautiful art! Here are a few suggestions below.
While this is a glimpse into the events and rituals you’ll most often find at an Indian wedding, every region of India has its own traditions so don’t be surprised if you take part in something else not explained here! Even though they can be long and sometimes complicated to follow, Indian weddings go back centuries and are rooted in love.