Indian marriages stand out with their stress on elaborate rituals and customs derived from the social, cultural fabric of India. Though customs and rituals vary by religion as well as caste they reflect a common spirit of vibrancy, celebration and warmth.
These customs represent the new bride's move to a new home, social status and meaning of life. 'Kanyadan' is a major custom, where the bride's father gives away his daughter to the bridegroom. .
India's diverse wedding customs is manifested in the way these marriages are conducted - Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Oriya, Malayalee weddings - all these have their specialties. For instance, a Rajasthani wedding in which arrangements are often extremely elaborate and opulent and enhance the status of the bride's family is different from a Tamil wedding which is far simpler and customs are segregated into pre wedding, wedding and post wedding rituals.
While each religious group, region, community and caste in India boasts of a different set of rites, there are some that overlap. Feasting, decorations and gifts are ubiquitous. Most of the marriages are solemnised on an auspicious date as predicted by the astrologers.
A wedding is an emotional event, with a plethora of ceremonies to celebrate the occasion in between when the families visit each other and forge acquaintance.
The right match
Since marriage in India is for keeps, parents feel their participation in this important decision will result in the most suitable choice. So the family sets off on a mission for finding what is according to them, the best match with the most desirable traits in a marriage partner.
With changing times, there is usually a small courtship period which is meant for creating familiarity between the bride and the groom. If during this period, either one of the two do not feel oriented towards the marriage, it can be called off. After all, liberal parents do not want to force marriage upon their children.
The bride and the bridegroom:
Potential brides and bride-grooms unwittingly go through close scrutiny in the inscrutable matching process. Some parameters in both the bride and the bridegroom are: matching cultures, matching religions, matching levels of education, and matching food taste.
Traditionally, the most obvious questions that went on in the minds of the parents were whether the bridegroom has the means to support the bride, will he make a good husband and father, how do the men in his family treat their women and does his family have a good reputation?
For the prospective bride, similar pros and cons are measured, with a critical view on her manners and reputation, respectability and disposition.