The Hindu marriage ceremony is ripe with ancient traditions and rituals that bond the bride and groom together in marital union and join the two families. The ceremony centers around the values of happiness, harmony and growth, which are reflected in the many aspects of the wedding.
Throw a Mangni, or engagement party, several months before the wedding. During this event, the bride and groom are showered with gifts from family members.
Decorate the bride's hands and feet with henna tatoos prior to the wedding ceremony and dress her in a traditional red dress. The intricate henna decorations incorporate the names of the bride and groom. The groom must locate their names hidden within the designs during the wedding night.
Schedule the groom and his groomsmen to arrive before the bride at the wedding ceremony. The arrival of the groom is an elaborate part of the ceremony, as he is typically greeted with music, singing and dancing by his family and the bride's parents and family. The family members give the groom akshat, which is rice, apply a tilak -- a dot of powdered red lead -- to his forehead, and hand him a vibrant flower garland. The bride's uncle or brother will then escort her to the ceremony.
Hold the ceremony under a mandap canvas. Open the ceremony by honoring the Hindu elephant god of wisdom, Ganesha, who is meant to bless the marriage as well.
Exchange garlands, placing them over each other's necks, which reflects the bride and groom honoring each other as equals. The garlands are composed of brightly colored flowers.
Tie the bride and groom's hands together with a cotton thread. This reflects their unity and bond in marriage.
Instruct the bride and groom to walk together around the agni, or holy fire, four times, during which the priest recites prayers.
Lead the bride and groom in seven vows, recited in Sanskrit, which solidifies the marriage.