The Traditions of Christian Weddings in South India
Weddings! The very sound of the word gives us a feeling of joy. What is it about weddings that enthralls and fascinates? Nothing is so merrily celebrated as this union of a man and a woman.
Wedding ceremonies differ through out the world, as every culture has its own traditions and customs. Likewise, Christian weddings in South India blend Indian and Western rituals. Indian Christians, still very much attached to their Indian culture, have incorporated some Western customs as well. As in other Indian ethnic groups, Indian Christians do sometimes opt for traditional arranged marriages, but that trend is slowly changing as members of the present generation increasingly choose their own life partners.
What We'll Cover:
- Different types of wedding clothes.
- Wedding day traditions
- An Indian Christian wedding ceremony.
- The Thali, or Mangalsutra, and the rings.
- The wedding reception.
During a Christian wedding in South India, the bride usually wears a white or off-white saree with or without a veil. The bridesmaids and flower girls wear sarees or dresses that match the color decor of the wedding. In recent years, brides have begun to choose Western wedding gowns and veils for the church service and a traditional silk saree for the wedding reception.
Wedding Day Traditions in South India
On the Big Day, a few hours before the service, the groom's sisters and cousins carry decorated trays containing the wedding saree, the veil, a bible, traditional coconuts, dried fruits,almonds, pista, cashew nuts, and Indian sweets to the bride's home. The church pastor, who present, blesses the saree and hands it to the bride. The groom’s group then leaves for the church where the groom awaits the bride at the altar.
The service for an Christian wedding in India is just like a Western service with one major exception: Instead of a ring, the groom places a Thali or Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride. This is a gold chain with a gold pendant in which the symbol of the cross is embedded. For a Christian Indian woman, wearing a Thali is a sign that she is married. Rings are also sometimes exchanged, but usually only during the engagement ceremony.
Another difference is that the groom does not kiss the bride in church. Kissing in public is sort of taboo in India.
After the wedding ceremonial service, the bridal couple walk down the aisle while the church organ plays the Wedding March, and the congregation showers rice and flower petals on them.
After the service, there is a reception where the traditional cutting of the wedding cake and toasts to the bridal couple take place. A major difference between these receptions and those in the West is that there is no dancing until all the guests have left. Since the Indian Christian weddings are social events with a huge crowd, dancing and singing are reserved only for the close family members.
After the reception the bride and groom a glass of milk and banana (symbolizing prosperity and fertility) and leave for their honeymoon.