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The Traditions of Christian Weddings in South India

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.

A Regional Indian Wedding Tradition

Weddings! The very sound of the word gives us a feeling of joy. What is it about weddings that capture the imagination? Nothing is so merrily celebrated as when two hearts become one.

Wedding ceremonies differ throughout 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.

Bridal Fashions

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, pistachios, cashew nuts, and Indian sweets to the bride's home. The church pastor, who is 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 Wedding Ceremony

The service for a 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 walks down the aisle while the church organ plays the Wedding March, and the congregation showers rice and flower petals on them.

Wedding Reception and Beyond

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 Indian Christian weddings are social events with a huge crowd, dancing and singing are reserved only for close family members.

After the reception, the bride and groom have a glass of milk and banana (symbolizing prosperity and fertility) and leave for their honeymoon.


Futamarka on March 24, 2013:

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.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on February 10, 2013:

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

thorleygreen from San Francisco ,California ,US on May 04, 2011:

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

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on October 31, 2009:

@ Smireles..thanks for the appreciation! :)

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

Celia Beryl Philips on October 22, 2009:

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!

Sandra Mireles from Texas on August 12, 2009:

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

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on May 31, 2009:

Thanks for appreciating,Charia!:)

Charia Samher on May 10, 2009:

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

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on April 29, 2009:


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

dianacharles from India on April 29, 2009:

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

T.Robertson on April 23, 2009:

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

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on April 12, 2009:

Nancy and Hilltrekker..thanks for appreciating!:)

Becki Rizzuti from Indiana, USA on April 11, 2009:

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 on March 13, 2009:

Very sweetly described. Well written.

hilltrekker on March 13, 2009:

Very sweetly described. Well written.

Nancy Ross on March 12, 2009:

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 (author) from India on March 12, 2009:

eswar..thanks for the wonderful compliment! :)

eswar from India on March 12, 2009:

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

Nice work keep it up

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on March 12, 2009:

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

anjalichugh from New York on March 09, 2009:

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 (author) from India on March 08, 2009:

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 Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on March 07, 2009:

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 from London on March 02, 2009:

thanks - I realised I had no idea!

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on March 02, 2009:

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 from London on March 02, 2009:

fantastic hub, thank you for the detail.

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

hubber-2009 from India on March 02, 2009:

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 (author) from India on March 02, 2009:

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 on March 02, 2009:

very nice

Wendy Iturrizaga from France on March 02, 2009:

Well done Laila, already a humber one in Google's first page. Check the forum for your screenshot:

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 from Washington, USA on March 01, 2009:

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 (author) from India on February 28, 2009:

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 (author) from India on February 27, 2009:

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

Muthusamy R from CHENNAI India on February 27, 2009:

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.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on February 27, 2009:

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 from Oregon/ Name: Marie on February 27, 2009:

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

Enjoyable hub!

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on February 27, 2009:

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

Aya Katz from The Ozarks on February 27, 2009:

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 (author) from India on February 27, 2009:

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

Laila Rajaratnam (author) from India on February 27, 2009:

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 (author) from India on February 27, 2009:

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 from India on February 27, 2009:

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 from UK on February 27, 2009:

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!

Sheila from The Other Bangor on February 27, 2009:

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.