A Hindu wedding is based on the teachings in Hinduism, which holds the belief that a Hindu marriage is not a contract, but a sacrament. Because of this, most Hindu weddings do not have vows, nor do the couples make promises. Instead, the wedding is centred around prayers and blessings from family and friends, and tying the knot with the blessing from various deities in Hinduism beliefs. Most of us are not familiar with the traditions of Hindu Weddings and so, here are some customs to know about Hindu Weddings in Singapore.
This is followed by the haldi ceremony where the groom’s family goes to the bride’s home and presents her with bangles.
Before the wedding, the mehndi ceremony takes place at least one day before the wedding. Brides will get their hands and feet covered in intricate henna paintings, which are meant to honor the couple’s love and ensure the success of their marriage by invoking the blessings of various deities and joining the families in celebration. It is even said that the deeper the henna stain, the deeper the love the groom has for the bride.
On the morning of the wedding, the Haldi ceremony is held. In this tradition, both sides of the family spread a mixture of oil, water and turmeric over the skin and clothes of the bride and groom. The mixture is believed to play a role in blessing the couple and in moisturizing and calming their skin before the wedding.
After that, the bride’s family will throw a sangeet, which translates to “sung together”, in a celebration of music and dance for the bride-to-be.
Mandap ( Wedding)
A Hindu wedding takes place inside a canopy called a mandap. The wedding mandap is a temporary structure constructed for the purpose of the marriage ceremony. The mandap is usually brightly decorated and decked in colours, flowers and garlands.
During the wedding itself, there are a few variations of the rites and customs adopted according to preference influence from Northern or Southern India. Typically, there are 3 main rites that a Hindu couple has to go through before tying the knot officially.
The bride is first led by her father, or her brother towards the center of the mandap, where she will meet the groom. The bride’s parents offer their daughter in marriage in a pious and solemn ritual called kanyadan. They wash the feet of the bride and groom with milk and water, purifying them for their new life together. The bride and groom hold their hands open, and the father of the bride holds his open palm over their hands. The mother of the bride then pours water over her husband’s hand, which subsequently falls on the hands of the bride and groom.
With the bride’s right hand placed on the right hand of the groom’s, the couple has their hands tied together with a cotton thread wound several times, while the priest recites holy verses. Although a single thread can be easily broken, a thread wound many times creates an unbreakable bond. The thread signifies a new beginning and a blissful life ahead with an unbreakable bond between the newlyweds.
To finally become married and “taken off the market”, the groom blesses his bride with a flower garland – similar to the exchange of rings as a token of love in Western marriages. Sindoor, a red-orange powder, is applied to the crow of her forehead, symbolizing her new status as a married woman.