Flowers for Indian Weddings

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Flowers add beauty to any wedding, but they play a more important role in Indian weddings than Western ceremonies, because they have symbolic as well as decorative uses. For some parts of an Indian wedding, you should use ceremony-specific flowers, while in others, you have flexibility in your choices.

Symbolic Flowers

Flowers play an important role in Indian architecture, religious practices and decorations, with some having specific significance. The national flower of India, the lotus, features prominently in religious and secular life and symbolizes divinity, fertility, wealth and knowledge. Indians especially prize jasmine and marigolds for their connection to the god Krishna, who, legend has it, wore a garland with these flowers.

Ceremonial Flowers

When an Indian bride and groom exchange long flower garlands -- similar to leis -- they symbolically create the new connection they have with each other. Florists use carnations for the garlands, in white, red, pink or maroon, but garlands are also sometimes made from cloth flowers. At the end of the ceremony, either guests or the groom's brother sprinkle rose petals on the newlywed couple to ward off evil.

Flowers to Wear

The bride and groom can wear fragrant jasmine blossoms or a combination of jasmine blossoms and buds. The bride's blossoms come in the form of flower strings wrapped around her head and hair as they hang down her back. The groom can wear chains of jasmine blossoms or buds that create a headdress to cover his face.

Flower Decorations

At a traditional Indian wedding, the ceremony takes place under a canopy, called a "mandap," which is lavishly decorated with flowers. Decorations may include arches wrapped in strings of flowers, columns topped with flowers leading toward the canopy and -- as in Western weddings -- flowers at the end of each row of seating. Carnations make up the bulk of the flowers for canopy decorations, but marigolds, lilies and roses also appear.