Even though customs and the people’s languages in different countries vary, Hindu followers still maintain the same fundamental beliefs. Marriage is regarded as the most important social and religious event in Indian culture. The concept of marriage can be traced back to Vedic times. Even now, it is considered to be the most sacred and vital affair in one’s life. A Hindu wedding, as is known to everybody, is an extremely elaborate and intricate affair. The wedding-related rituals begin days before the actual wedding ceremony in the form of pre-wedding rituals.
In Hindu marriage ceremonies, the pre-wedding rituals begin days before the wedding date with Roka or formal commitment of both the families towards marriage. It is followed by sagaai (engagement), hurdee, mehendi, sangeet and several such customs varying from family to family.
Even in a Muslim marriage, the rituals of mehendi and sangeet take place before the wedding ceremony. People of all other religions -Jains, Parsees, Christians, Buddhists and Jews in India, have different kinds of pre-wedding ceremonies to mark the beginning of the auspicious phase of marriage.
Weddings are considered to be a sacred and sanctified ritual. They are a long ritualistic and elaborate affair with lots of pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding rituals. The occasion of mehendi is an important pre-wedding ritual. It is a fun-filled ritual, which is celebrated mainly by the bride’s family. The mehendi is applied on the bride’s face, feet and hands. The bride’s family and friends may apply mehendi as well.
The bride and groom, together with their parents, perform many rituals. By doing so, the parents bless their children for the next phase of their married lives. The hurdee is applied on the bride and groom at their homes. There are two reasons for this: the ingredience that are used is turmeric and oil. Tumeric is an antiseptic, spiritual and cosmetic balm. The turmeric is ground and the oil is used as a base for this mixture. It also has a very pleasant and therapeutic feel that will make the bridal couple feel heavenly. From a health point of view, it cleanses their skin and will give them a beautiful glow that will enhance their appearance on the wedding day. The first application of the hurdee on the bride’s/groom’s face, arms and feet is applied by her/his mother. This is when the fun really starts.
All the close family members and friends are then given an opportunity to do the same. Some will apply the mixture very lovingly; some very lightly and carefully as they do not want to mess their clothing but some will make fun of the bride / groom by touching areas that will make them laugh. Older members of the family will also sing to them whilst applying the hurdee. The bride /groom and their family members really enjoy this ritual.
Hindu weddings are not only about serious rituals and customs; they are also full of several fun-filled rituals and light-hearted moments. Although most people in India regard marriage more as a religious affair, the elements of fun and frolic are also added to it to make this happy yet emotional affair somewhat light and amusing. In fact, most of the pre-wedding rituals are designed in a way where there is always scope for entertainment.