Milestone wedding anniversaries, like the 25th and 50th, are often celebrated in India by a renewal of wedding vows, so that the couple's children have a chance to witness their parents reaffirming their devotion to one another. But the vow renewal can be used to observe any wedding anniversary. There is little difference between the anniversary and wedding celebration.
Who Does What?
Traditionally, the children of the bride and groom will put together the vow renewal ceremony. If the children are too young, adult siblings, family and friends should organize the anniversary celebrations.
Preparing the Bride
Just as with the wedding itself, the bride is pampered by loved ones and treated as a queen -- she's the center of attention. The bride can choose to wear her original "bridal set," or a collection of jewelry including a tiara, necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets and other adornments, or she can select a new "bridal set" for a reaffirmation ceremony. The night before the renewal itself is known as the "henna night," where the mehndi, the Indian temporary tattoo made using henna -- a plant used to make a dye paste -- is applied to the bride and sometimes to women close to her. Bridal dress would include a specially chosen sari, an Indian ensemble of a top and a large scarf-like garment wrapped around the body to make a dress, traditionally in red and gold with elaborate embroidery and beading.
Preparing the Groom
While the bride may be the center of attention, the Indian groom, even in the vow renewal, will also be center stage. His dress should be just as elaborate as his bride and the night before the ceremony, he should be pampered and well groomed. Sherwanis, an Indian man's tunic-like coat that falls to the knee, are the costume of choice for the groom, frequently made of a white or light-colored material and gold embroidery.
The Vow Renewal Ceremony
Friends and family gather in a temple or at a private location and share blessings for the couple. A priest will officiate the vow renewals while the groom places floral garlands around the neck of the bride and the bride places garlands around the neck of her groom. Depending on personal preference the service can mirror the wedding ceremony exactly, or they can create their own vows, prayers and readings.
The Celebration Feast
After the ceremony itself, a festive meal and party follows celebrating the anniversary. The formality of the affair is up to the family and couple, and the bride and groom are free to change out of their bridal ensembles and into more comfortable, contemporary clothing.
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Rica Mendes has been writing since 1989, when she became regional editor of Young Judaea's newsletter. Her work can also be found on Trek Bicycle Store of Fairfield's blog and her personal blog tracking her experience as a cyclist and LIVESTRONG leader. Mendes has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oberlin College.
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