How the Indian Culture Celebrates the Beauty of Their Heritage
Written by: Jordan Bowles
Edited by: My Identity Mag Team
In this beautiful month of July, myidemtitymag.com is celebrating Indian Heritage Month! The Indian Culture has many amazing components that showcase the colorful and unique nuances of those of the Indian Heritage, and demonstrates why this culture should be appreciated and celebrated! For example, traditional Indian weddings include many beautiful and intricate details and celebrations that occur over a course of several days.
When it comes to a traditional Indian wedding, the ceremony and accompanying festivities are divided into three parts: the pre-wedding, main, and post-wedding. In the pre-wedding ceremony, this is a time specifically where the groom’s and bride’s family members come together to meet and interact with each other. An individual, who is referred to as a Pandit according to traditional Indian culture, is the one who is responsible for choosing the day of the wedding; this date is chosen based on the Indian cultural ritual of referring to both the bride and groom’s horoscopes. The pre-wedding ceremony is a time of preparation for the actual wedding day, and the preparations include the Pandit reciting a prayer with all the family members from both sides involved in order to bless the couple with a long and happy union.
On the day of the actual wedding in Indian culture, a special altar is constructed, also called “mandapa.” It is during this day that several cultural rituals must take place. For example, the groom must have his feet washed and is offered milk and honey to consume, and is welcomed into the bride’s family by his mother-in-law. It is important to recognize the significance of what the groom wears on his wedding day. Traditionally, Indian grooms sport a turban adorned with flowers, and this is worn particularly to keep evil spirits away.
The bride is adorned in a traditional Indian saree on the day of the wedding, and it is to be tied to the scarf that the groom wears in order to represent two souls coming together in unity. In India, the cultural traditions there cater to a patriarchal structure, where the male is regarded as the head of the household, and this very concept is reflected in the traditions performed for Indian weddings. According to Indian cultural norms, the bride’s parents, of course, are responsible for giving her away; however, the bride’s parents are not allowed to eat anything prior to the ceremony in order to maintain purity (as opposed to what I mentioned earlier about the groom who is offered milk and honey to consume). Another important ceremonial ritual performed on the day of an Indian wedding is a special cord that is tied around the necks of the bride and groom. This particular ritual is performed to ward off evil from the couple, and it is supposed to be implemented by elder individuals related to the bride and groom.
It is interesting to note that during the ceremony, instead of an exchange of rings, the bride receives what is called the “Mangala Sutra.” The “Mangala Sutra” is a special cord that is tied around the bride’s neck and it is an indicator that she is now a married woman. The special cord is tied into three knots and is done so by the groom; this ritual is performed in order to indicate that two souls will be joined together for 100 years. In order for a traditional Indian wedding ceremony to be complete, the groom must assist his bride in having her touch seven betel nuts with her right toe, specifically, while they both recite seven sacred vows. Following this, seven married women related to the bride come to her and whisper in her ear giving her and her groom blessings as a couple, and finally, the bride is then carried out of the ceremonial room by her brothers.
In the post-wedding rituals, the bride’s mother-in-law is responsible for placing a vase of rice at the entrance of the new couple’s home. As a rite-of-passage of the new bride accepting all of the responsibilities that come with being a wife, she must spill the vase of rice with her right foot once she enters the home; this is seen as an important ritual to also indicate wealth in the new couple’s home as well.
As you can see, Indian traditional weddings require a lot of preparation that goes beyond all the exquisitely vivid colors, adornments, special clothing that are typically seen during these kinds of ceremonies. It is quite clear that following these rituals to the very detail is seen as an integral part of Indian culture, and is regarded as a pillar in maintaining how this culture operates. It is important to see how examining how love and the joining of two families together can be regarded as an educational opportunity and window into how cultures across the globe engage in these kinds of events. Not only is this a way to learn about the world around us, but we can also examine our own cultures and find that there are commonalities between cultures all across the globe.
One of the most recent examples of Indian and American cultures coming together due to the union of marriage is the wedding between renowned actress Priyanka Chopra and music star Nick Jonas. It is important to note that these two performed ceremonies that honored the sanctity and importance of both their cultures. Chopra and Jonas had a traditional American ceremony and a traditional Indian wedding ceremony as well. This is an incredible example of embracing different cultures and celebrating the unification of two cultural identities, while also engaging in diversity and inclusion. The act of seeing two people who love each other dearly join together in marriage is a beautiful phenomenon, and in this case, it is the very epitome of celebrating how two different cultures can come together and coexist in harmony. Happy Indian Heritage Month everyone!
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