The Traditions of Christian Weddings in South India

Updated on September 23, 2019
Laila Rajaratnam profile image

Laila is from India and enjoys writing about her local customs and traditions.

My daughter's wedding! She is wearing an Western-style wedding gown with a veil.
My daughter's wedding! She is wearing an Western-style wedding gown with a veil.

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.

My niece in her white wedding saree without a veil.
My niece in her white wedding saree without a veil.

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.

My nephew's wedding: The bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the flower girls are my nieces, nephews, or children.
My nephew's wedding: The bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the flower girls are my nieces, nephews, or children.

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Thali or Mangalsutra and the rings.A gift for the couple in church—a Bible.The traditional sweets, fruit, and nuts delivered by the groom's family to the bride's home the morning of the wedding.St. George's Cathedral in Chennai, S. India, where my sisters ,my nephews, nieces, and even my husband and myself got married!This bell-shaped wedding cake was made by my sister for her son's wedding.A fish bowl and shell flower vase for each individual wedding reception dinner table.
The Thali or Mangalsutra and the rings.
The Thali or Mangalsutra and the rings.
A gift for the couple in church—a Bible.
A gift for the couple in church—a Bible.
The traditional sweets, fruit, and nuts delivered by the groom's family to the bride's home the morning of the wedding.
The traditional sweets, fruit, and nuts delivered by the groom's family to the bride's home the morning of the wedding.
St. George's Cathedral in Chennai, S. India, where my sisters ,my nephews, nieces, and even my husband and myself got married!
St. George's Cathedral in Chennai, S. India, where my sisters ,my nephews, nieces, and even my husband and myself got married!
This bell-shaped wedding cake was made by my sister for her son's wedding.
This bell-shaped wedding cake was made by my sister for her son's wedding.
Source
A fish bowl and shell flower vase for each individual wedding reception dinner table.
A fish bowl and shell flower vase for each individual wedding reception dinner table.

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.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Futamarka 

        6 years ago

        Как известно, основную проблему малогабаритных тонзур составляют небольшая юморина, маленький санузел и смежные юмористкы. В данном случае приняли решение демонтировать тонзуру между кухней и юмористкой, а две другие юмористкы сделать изолированными. Результатом стало разделение пространства на приватную часть (где находятся спальня и детская) и общественную (в нее вошли гостиная и юморина). Для созавивания компактной и удобной кухни перенесли мойку. Прикол - теперь она располагается под окном.

      • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

        Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

        6 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

        A nice hub. I clap on. Keep on writing such good ones in future too.

      • profile image

        thorleygreen 

        8 years ago from San Francisco ,California ,US

        its very nice photographs.I like Ur wedding Saree.Its very elegant and beautiful.

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        @ Smireles..thanks for the appreciation! :)

        @ Celia..yes,you are right. I will correct it! Thanks. :)

      • profile image

        Celia Beryl Philips 

        10 years ago

        I loved your description about weddings in south India. But I have a small mistake to point out. You have written:

        " the christians in India are Indians converted to Christianity by the British christian missionaries,way back when Britain ruled India"

        This is incorrect. Christianity was brought to India by Christ's Apostle St Thomas. This means Christianity in India is as old as Christianity itself. Yes, the British did convert Indians to Christians mostly in North India yet many of the South Indians were Christians long before the British arrived.

        This is just a minor correction. Apart from this your article is mind blowing! Hats off!

      • Smireles profile image

        Sandra Mireles 

        10 years ago from Texas

        Loved the rich details and beautiful images in this hub. Thanks for sharing.

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Thanks for appreciating,Charia!:)

      • Charia Samher profile image

        Charia Samher 

        10 years ago

        Very similar to our church wedding here. Nice hub,it's like I've been there myself.

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        @T.Robertson..thanks!

        @dianacharles..thank you so much for the appreciation :)

      • dianacharles profile image

        dianacharles 

        10 years ago from India

        A lovely hub Laila. The church, the family all look wonderful in the pix.

      • profile image

        T.Robertson 

        10 years ago

        Very nice to see thebeautiful bride in saree and jewels of south India tradition getting married in a beautiful city Cathedral

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Nancy and Hilltrekker..thanks for appreciating!:)

      • Everyday Miracles profile image

        Becki Rizzuti 

        10 years ago from Indiana, USA

        Recently I had the pleasure of viewing the photography of a traditional (Hindu) Indian wedding taken by a member of a forum to which I belonged. I cannot begin to express how elaborately beautiful that ceremony was, and how skilled the photographer. I have never seen anything like it, and if I wasn't already fascinated by Indian culture, that would have done it!

        Also recently I had the opportunity to minister to local Christian Asians (in this case the Chin people from Burma) and I learned such a great deal about Christianity in the East. It is a blessing to know how our faith as affected those in other parts of the world as well.

        I found your hub very intersesting and informative. I am personally a culture junkie, so things like this just fascinate me! Thank you for sharing!

      • hilltrekker profile image

        hilltrekker 

        10 years ago

        Very sweetly described. Well written.

      • hilltrekker profile image

        hilltrekker 

        10 years ago

        Very sweetly described. Well written.

      • Nancy Ross profile image

        Nancy Ross 

        10 years ago

        Thank you so much for sharing these awesome pictures. They were absolutely beautiful. Were some of these interfaith marriages, or were they all Christians? You must be very proud of your family and heritage to take the time to share with us.

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        eswar..thanks for the wonderful compliment! :)

      • eswar profile image

        eswar 

        10 years ago from India

        No, words!! I am so proud guess why?

        Nice work keep it up

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Thank you so very much Anjali! Yes,thanks to the media,Indian rituals are gaining popularity!:)

      • anjalichugh profile image

        anjalichugh 

        10 years ago from New York

        I don't know how I missed this one. I seem to be the only late comer here. Speaking of Indian wedding dresses and rituals, I was surprised to see, in the last episode of 'Starter Wife' (in case you saw that TV serial), the American bride and groom wearing Indian wedding dresses; more surprising was the theme which was entirely Indian. It's amazing to see how Indian rituals are gaining popularity globally. Very nice hub.

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Thanks Anamika!Yes,I've seen the Kerala mangalsutra..they take the thread from the wedding saree and slip in the gold pendant,which is then placed on bride's neck.After the ceremony,the pendant is put on to a gold chain!:)

      • Anamika S profile image

        Anamika S Jain 

        10 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

        Wonderful Hub Laila and beautiful Pictures. I have seen some Keralite and Christian Weddings and loved it too. Have you seen the Kerala mangalsutra? They call it 'minnu'.

      • LondonGirl profile image

        LondonGirl 

        10 years ago from London

        thanks - I realised I had no idea!

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Thankyou hubber 2009! :)

        London girl..Thank you! I'm glad you do like the hub!:)There are many inter-faith marriages in India and you will be surprised that there are many Hindu-Muslim marriages too!

      • LondonGirl profile image

        LondonGirl 

        10 years ago from London

        fantastic hub, thank you for the detail.

        I wonder, how common is it in India to have inter-faith marriages?

      • hubber-2009 profile image

        hubber-2009 

        10 years ago from India

        As a priest of the Saint Thomas Christian Church of South India once commented : "You cannot understand the teachings of Jesus if you do not know the scriptures of India."

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        CW..thanks for stopping by and appreciating!:)

        Princessa..Thanks a ton!Yes..thanks for the screenshot and making me feel special as well!:)

        Raghu9..thanks for your comment!:)

      • raghu9 profile image

        raghu9 

        10 years ago

        very nice

      • Princessa profile image

        Wendy Iturrizaga 

        10 years ago from France

        Well done Laila, already a humber one in Google's first page. Check the forum for your screenshot: https://hubpages.com/forum/topic/11668?page=8#post...

        The sarees look so beautiful, whether in white or red they are stunning. I like the way the both cultures intermingle in one big ceremony-celebration.

      • countrywomen profile image

        countrywomen 

        10 years ago from Washington, USA

        Laila- Great pictures and they make a lovely couple. It is such a good fusion of cultures as Hindus have exchanging of rings and Christians have Mangalsutra. The world would be such a wonderful place if more people see what is common among each other rather than focusing on the differences. Btw I love Gopika and I even made a hub about them in the initial days. Thumbs up for those wonderful photos and write up.

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Purple Perl ..thanks so very much for stopping by! In which church did you get married?I come to St. Mark's cathedral whenever I visit Bangalore! Yes,weddings are nostalgic times...:)

        Muthusamy..thank you so much for your kind comments!:) I am touched by your appreciation..Thanks!:)

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Violetsun,thanks for appreciating!I enjoyed doing this hub!:)

      • Muthusamy R profile image

        Muthusamy R 

        10 years ago from CHENNAI India

        I feel as if I have attended an Indian Christian Wedding at St. George's Catherdral,Chennai. Crisp information. Nice photographs. Thank you for the wonderful HUB.

      • Purple Perl profile image

        Esther Shamsunder 

        10 years ago from Bangalore,India

        Excellent hub,Laila!

        Brought back my own memories of my wedding in Bangalore!

        I am glad you brought out the specialities of being a South Indian Christian.Especially,having a mangalasutra and wedding bands to solemnise the marriage.

      • VioletSun profile image

        VioletSun 

        10 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

        The sarees are beautiful, so feminine and colorful. Enjoyed the beautiful photos of your family's wedding.

        Enjoyable hub!

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Thanks Aya..glad you enjoyed the hub! :)

      • Aya Katz profile image

        Aya Katz 

        10 years ago from The Ozarks

        Laila, the photos of the Christian Indian weddings were a feast for the eyes.

        Elizabeth Hurley's son doesn't look so happy, though.

        Thanks for a really interesting hub!

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Shalini..thanks for stopping by! My sisters are so very artistic unlike me!:(

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Amanda..thanks for reading my hub! And yes,sarees come in a riot of colors and our weddings over here are so very colourful! :)

      • Laila Rajaratnam profile imageAUTHOR

        Laila Rajaratnam 

        10 years ago from India

        Teresa..thanks!Yes,the silk sarees are so very beautiful,but then,they are also so very heavy that we cant wait to get back home and change to lighter and more comfortable clothes!LOL! Thanks for appreciating!

      • Shalini Kagal profile image

        Shalini Kagal 

        10 years ago from India

        Great hub Laila - brings back memories. Though I chose to marry outside the traditional South Indian Christian community, there are any number of weddings we still attend. Love the pics :)

      • Amanda Severn profile image

        Amanda Severn 

        10 years ago from UK

        I used to work with a Christian Indian lady many years ago, and it's interesting to learn more about the different customs, and how one set of traditions has combined with another. The sarees are gorgeous. I love their rich colours. As a child I grew up in a town here in the UK with a very large Asian population, and there were several shops locally that sold saree fabric. I was always fascinated by the fabulous colours, and have been coveting one ever since!

      • Teresa McGurk profile image

        Sheila 

        10 years ago from The Other Bangor

        The sarees are beautiful -- we westerners are attracted to the gorgeous silks, the gold threads, the graceful drape of the cloth over the shoulder. It's interesting to see how traditions and customs are adapted in other cultures, and South India is no exception in blending Christian liturgy with local color. Beautiful hub, Laila.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://holidappy.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)