South Asian Weddings

Indian Ceremony - length of time and rituals

Hi there,
I am planning to have two ceremonies on my wedding day next year, one Indian and one American (FI's heritage is American), and am trying to figure out how short we can make the Indian ceremony while still doing justice to the traditions.  I am South Asian but grew up in the US and have been to very few Indian ceremonies, so I don't really know what parts of the ceremony are "must do" and what is "nice to have."

We would like to do a bharat for some time coming upto the venue, but once we are seated at the mandap, I am hoping we can keep the ceremony to 45 min -- does this seem doable?  I don't want to shortchange the culture but at the same time, am wondering how much meaning a longer ceremony would have to my extended family, given that it's typically conducted in Sanskrit and they can't understand anyway...

I have heard that one issue can be selecting the right priest -- some just get up there and take a lot longer than you expect them too -- I am hoping to avoid that.  Any tips from brides who have been successful at limiting the length of an Indian ceremony?  Any suggestions on parts of the ceremony that are critical versus not as important?  I come from a Gujurati Jain background by the way, in case that matters.


Re: Indian Ceremony - length of time and rituals

  • edited December 2011
    I think the best place to start is to discuss your idea with your parents. Have you talked to them to see what they would like to see in the ceremony? They may be able to help you decide what is an absolute must for them, what they feel they can't live without.  I know for my parents the kanya daan (the giving away of the bride) was really important to them.

    Our pandit was great and we met with him to discuss the different aspects of the rest of the ceremony and the symbolism behind each aspect.  My husband isn't Indian and so it was helpful for him to hear the meaning behind each part of the ceremony and I found it very helpful, too.

    Even though the ceremony is conducted in Sanskrit, a good pandit will translate and explain the significance of what is being done so that the bride and groom understand what they are doing and essentially agreeing to as their vows.  The guests will also find this useful and a good program explaining the ceremony will help them follow along as well.  To me it was more about the significance and meaning of each ritual rather than being to understand the Sanskits slokas.

    We only had the one ceremony, so I don't really have tips on how to limit the length of the ceremony other than research the ceremony, talk to your parents and fiance and select which aspects of the ceremony you definitely want to have vs. what you feel you can do without.
  • Rainbow17Rainbow17 member
    100 Comments Second Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    This is a great question! I'm only hoping to have my ceremony 30 mins, so hopefully it will be possible. 
  • edited December 2011
    I think keeping the Indian ceremony to 45 minutes is totally do-able.  My fiance's sister (who got married last year) asked her priest to keep it under 45 minutes and because they were running late, he actually finished earlier than expected in 30 minutes.  I've also been to weddings where the Indian ceremony is much longer so I agree, that it definitely depends on the priest.  Just make sure you communicate with both sets of parents to see if there are any must-do parts of the ceremony that they would like to see.  Also make sure your priest understands that you don't want the ceremony to go on longer than 45 minutes.  I have heard of priests that end up doing the ceremony longer than what was expected.  I also think having someone around like a family member to watch the time and signal to the priest if you're getting crunched for time would be helpful. 

    We're also hoping that our ceremony is not more than 45 minutes and are currently deciding on a pandit to perform our Hindu ceremony (I am Marathi and my fiance is Gujarati).  Our pandit advised that the following parts are required (according to him): Kanya daan (presenting the bride), Hasta melap (joining of the hands), Mangal Fera (circling around the holy fire), and the Saptapadi (seven vows).  The pandit should give you a list of the rituals/steps involved with the Indian ceremony and a brief description of each so that you and your families can decide which ones are the most important to you. 

    Hope this helps!
  • medeawolffmedeawolff member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I think you can pull off a Hindu ceremony in under an hour as long as you have a great priest. Here's a link that can show you how a shorter ceremony can look: 

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