Marriage, as we know it, symbolizes a knot that ties two people together, a culturally recognized union of two people that establishes them as husband and wife. It is one of the most important things in one’s life, and marks the beginning of a new phase that is known yet unknown. Marriage is a universal phenomenon but distinguishes in the way it is carried out.
When we talk about India specifically, there is not just one way to describe marriage here. With its cultural and religious diversity, India stands out for its variance. Weddings and marriages here vary according to the region, the religion and even the sub communities present, along with the personal preferences of the bride and groom, and their families.
Parents, and even families at large, are quite involved in the marriages of Indian people. It is not a complete wedding when the parents’ someone’s someone’s someone is not invited to the wedding, which puts forth the hashtag Indians most widely celebrate- Big Fat Indian Wedding. Marriages here are not just mere occasions of the formation of a new bond, but a festive one, which is in most cases celebrated with extensive decorations, color, music, dance and rituals that vary from their region to religion.
When we look at the minimum age required for getting married in India, it is 18 for women and 21 for men. Initially, it was even lower but due to increasing cases of baal vivah (child marriage), the Indian government raised the minimum age limit. Along with this there are many other social evils that are related to marriages and especially women, that still prevail in the Indian society like dowry, female infanticide, etc.
First let’s talk about the type of wedding that takes place here. Unlike what happens in the western countries, arranged marriages have long been the norm in the Indian society, wherein just like we mentioned, parents and family members take active part in setting up the whole before marriage process. Due to the preference of arranged over love marriages, the Matrimonial service saw an increase in their market here, with loads of new Matrimonial sites coming up. Muslim Matrimony India, Christian Matrimony and others like this have also seen a rise. However, a few changes are taking place with the rise in love marriages along with consented arrange marriages.
As we know, India is home to many religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. Considering marriage in religious regard, every religion has its own set of rules and rituals that need to be carried out for the marriage to be considered valid. The rituals and process of any wedding of any religion vary all over India as it is widely influenced by the cultural and regional terms as well.
About 80 percent of the marriages taken place in India every year, are Hindu weddings which is called vivah in local terms. Hindu weddings are one of the most extravagant weddings in the world where families spend significant effort and financial resources to celebrate this occasion. With the cultural differences, there are certain common and important Hindu rituals too, like Kanyadaan (gifting of daughter by the father), Panigrahana (holding hands near the fire to signify everlasting union) and Saptapadi (taking seven rounds around the fire with each round including a set of mutual vows). According to the Hindu belief, this marital bond is supposed to last for 7 lifetimes thus they give a lot of importance to Saptapadi that establishes them as husband and wife after its completion.
Indian Muslims follow the customs of a traditional Islamic wedding that is mentioned in the Qur’an and hadiths. The customs of an Islamic weddings are similar all over the globe with rituals that include Nikah (the main event), giving of mahr (bridal gift) by the groom to the bride, signing of the nikahnama which is a legal document, and a reception. The Muslims believe that the reception, also known as walima, is supposed to be a little grand than the nikah. However, in India, Muslim marriages are widely influenced by the Hindu culture of weddings and often incorporate various celebration methods inspired by it.
Indian Christians follow the rituals similar to that practiced in most Western countries where the majority of the Christians reside. Along with the basic customs, they also have more Indian customs in different states of India. Sikh marriages are mostly like Hindu weddings with a little difference. They have a ceremony of Anand Karaj, where the couple walk around the holy book- Guru Granth Sahib, four times. The Jain and Buddhist weddings are centred around their religious texts and ideas, sharing a few concepts here and there.
The marriage business does well here in India, especially now with the use of social media and influencers. People spend more than one-fifth of their lifetime’s wealth on weddings, and like to celebrate it in a grand way. There are many new things and trends that come up every now and then, that the people themselves introduce like wedding photoshoots even prewedding ones, destination weddings, grand sangeet, bachelorette parties, etc. Indians believe marriage to be one of the most important times of their lives, and do everything in their power to make it stand out and memorable.