All weddings set forth tiny institutions regardless of cultural grounds on which they are done. When it is Indian wedding, the emphasis is more on upholding this aspect and all else, it is believed, will fall into place. The customs on which Indian weddings are held bind the new couples to commit for each others� well being, in every aspect of life, till death does them apart. It is really interesting to know how this works and what place the love enjoys in a wedlock.

The Indian wedding customs begin with Kanyadaan in a majority of cases, but for Brahmins and Kshatriyas it is Upanayana, preceding kanyadaan, which marks the beginning. Upanayana is a custom to recognize the attainment of manhood (read maturity) and that the man is ready for higher responsibilities for example running a family.

Well, Indian wedding customs stand on two principles which begin with the groom accepting the bride as his equal partner for life and for all aspects. The oath �Dharmecha, arthecha, kaamecha� by the groom promises to the bride that he will see her as an alter ego (saha dharmini) in his �Duties, Professions and Pleasures.� The groom takes this oath immediately following a sequence of rituals leading to �kanyadaan� � acceptance by the bride�s parents for the marriage. Even though acceptance on the day of wedding appears ceremonial, it is customary before solemnization. Kanyadaan also signifies that the bride no more belongs to her parents� family.

What follows kanyadaan is exchange of garlands between the couple and tying up of nuptial knot (mangal sutra) by the groom. Mangal sutra is a gold necklace studded with black beads of semiprecious stones and one or two traditionally designed pendants. It is this mangal sutra that ensembles a married woman in India and married women will never remove it for any reason as long as their husbands are alive. For a bride, wearing mangal sutra is a matter of pride and promise of protection made to her by her groom.

The final solemnization custom is through what is known as sapta-padi which plainly means seven-steps and it stands symbolically for all the steps the new couple takes jointly in their new life ahead. The seven steps are taken by the couple by going round a holy fire which again symbolizes that the couple had vowed by the fire to stay together till death.

Different Indian religious groups, not excluding Muslims and Christians, may have slight differences but all Indian wedding customs are built around this.



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