Christian weddings are known for their sobriety and elegance. The bride’s white wedding gown, the flower decorations at the church, the gorgeous bridesmaids and the cute flower girls, all together make a Christian wedding a treat to the eye.
The Christian weddings in India are a happy blend of Indian and Western customs. The Indian Christians, while adhering to their Indian culture have incorporated some western customs as well. This amalgamation of Indo-Western customs is visible in the wedding rituals. Here are the main traditions and rituals of an Indian Christian wedding.
Pre Wedding Rituals
The engagement ceremony:The first function of the marriage is the engagement ceremony. It is generally hosted by the bride’s parents and is a gathering comprising of only close family members and friends. The couple exchange rings on this occasion. The engagement is announced in their local churches as well.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties:It is a trend that is getting popular in India. The friends and brothers of the groom host a bachelor’s party for him. This party celebrates the groom’s last days as a bachelor. On the other hand, a similar party is organised for the bride by her friends and sisters. This is known as the bachelorette party.
The Roce Ceremony:This ceremony also known asHaldaatrelates to applying the paste of tumeric and sandalwood on both the bride and the groom.Haldaatceremony is prominent among the North Indian Christians. TheHaldaatceremony of North India is known as Roce. Among the Christians of western and southern India like in the state of Goa, coconut paste is applied on both the bride and the groom instead of tumeric and sandalwood paste.
Reception of the bride:On the wedding day, the bride arrives at the wedding venue in a car sent by the groom. His best man receives the bride and escorts her inside. Later, the father of the bride escorts her down the aisle on the other side of which, her groom patiently awaits her. He hands over his daughter to the groom and showers his blessings.
Exchange of vows:Both the bride and the groom write their own wedding vows which they read out to each other at the time of the wedding. The vows are messages of love and respect that they have for each other.
The 'I Do':After reading the wedding vows, the priest asks both the bride and the groom if ‘they agree to love and cherish each other in health and in sickness for as long as they shall live?’ The consenting couples reply to this by saying ‘I Do’. The priest then pronounces them husband and wife.
The Indian touch:Traditionally, in Indian Christian weddings (especially in south India) the groom places the ‘Thali’ or 'Mangalsutra' around the neck of the bride instead of the giving her a ring. However, the trend of rings is gaining popularity and most couples are going for it now.
The throwing of the wedding bouquet:After the wedding ceremony, the bride tosses her wedding bouquet and all the unmarried girls try to catch it. It is said that whoever does, gets married next.
Post Wedding Rituals
Reception: After the wedding, a reception is held where the bride and groom perform a rehearsed ball room dance sequence. This is followed by a family dinner when the wedding cake is cut and toasts are raised for the newlywed couple.