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South Asian Weddings

How to explain cutsoms?

I thought it would be nice to include an explanation of some wedding customs that will be foreign to most of our guests. But I don't know how to explain the few Indian customs we're using without feeling like I'm missing something or over-explaining.

In a nutshell, we're going to have a fusion handfasting/wedding under a mandap and a fire and possibly the seven steps. I'm not sure about that last one yet - I'm trying to figure out a way to make those seven vows work with the six vows for the handfasting and I can't decide if we should do the steps before the cord ceremony (which takes up the bulk of our ceremony) or after the cords are tied. Maybe we walk around with our hands tied instead of our clothes?

Anyway. Does anyone know how I can concisely but accurately explain these customs to our non-Indian guests without offending the Indian ones? He considers himself more American than Indian and has no clue how to explain them. I'd ask his family for help, but they aren't supportive of us. He's only inviting his parents and his brother, and at the moment they're against our relationship at all. We're including those few customs because I like them, but they aren't even willing to talk to me, let alone help me with ANYthing related to the wedding.
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Re: How to explain cutsoms?

  • shwethasrinshwethasrin member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I'm having an interfaith wedding (two separate ceremonies though) and I know my fiance's family is going to want to know what's going on during the Hindu ceremony. We thought of printing out programs that laid out the most important rituals and explain the symbolism/significance behind those rituals. Alternatively, we thought of having one of our friends up there explaining to the audience what's going on, but that would really detract away from the ceremony itself and break up the flow of things. If you have a wedding website, you could have the "program" up there instead so guests can get a feel for what's going on before the wedding itself.
  • amberlynnedamberlynned member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We are hiring a White Hindu Priest. He speaks perfect English, Hindi, Gujarathi, and reads Sanskrit. He is VERY good about explaining things as he goes through all the motions. If you life in the Los Angeles area, I can give you his info. 

    If not, you can also put in the programs explanations of each part of the ceremony & its significance. 

    HTH!
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  • edited December 2011
    We're in Florida; I wanted to include a short little bit in the programs about the rituals what aren't common here. My issue is mostly wording. I don't know enough about the customs to write things out, which makes me feel like it's inadequate. I don't know how to condense the information I'm finding out online into something that feels like it's enough information, but not too much.

    I haven't included an explanation of the fire itself because I didn't know how to explain it without including religion. Neither Ritesh nor I is Hindu and it doesn't make much sense to point out the religious aspects of the ceremony when we aren't religious. But here's what I do have. Would you lovelies be kind enough to take a look and tell me what needs to be added or changed? Thanks in advance!

    The Mandap:
    The mandap is a large canopy with four poles, under which most of the wedding ceremony takes place. A small fire is kept in the center throughout the ceremony.

    The Sapta Padi (Seven Steps):
    The couple walks around the fire seven times while seven vows are spoken. Each circle represents another vow.
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  • edited December 2011
    If you haven't already, check out the South Asian bio, which has tons of resources.  I borrowed liberally from the bio when it came to putting together the program for our Hindu ceremony (I am white, husband is Indian and not really up on any customs, etc.).  Here is a sampling of a few of the things we explained in the program (again, heavily borrowed from other SA brides like Meghana, NicoleKrish, etc.).  FYI, my husband is South Indian/Tamil.

    The Hindu wedding ceremony is more than 5,000 years old.  The ceremony is conducted in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India.  In Hindu scriptural writings, marriage is considered a sacrament and not a contract.  It is meant to unite two persons so firmly together that although they retain their two separate bodies, they become one in spirit. 

    PANIGRAHANAM – YYGroom and XXBride hold hands and agree that they will pursue the purusharthas – the four ends of human existence – Dharma (righteousness), Artha (prosperity), Kama (life’s pleasures) and Moksha (spiritual values). AKSHATAROPANAM – YYGroom and XXBride shower turmeric and rice on each other, a symbol of fertility and prosperity.


    SAPTA PADI – It is Hindu belief that if one person walks seven steps with another, they become friends.  Because marriage does not exist without friendship, the bride and groom take seven steps together. With the first step, we have started our life as a household.  Let us walk together.Walk with me the second step for strength.Walk with me the third step for wealth and prosperity.Walk with me the fourth step for happiness.Walk with me the fifth step for our future children and for a long life together.Walk with me the sixth step for the joys of all seasons.Walk with me the seventh step for everlasting love.

     

  • edited December 2011
    I hadn't even thought of the SA bio *smacks forehead* Duh. That'll be my next stop. Thanks:)
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  • edited December 2011
    Ok, I updated the program wording. Here's what I have now, after a little more tweaking. Borrowed heavily from a few different sources.

    The Mandap
    The mandap is a large canopy with four poles, under which most of the wedding ceremony takes place. The mandap is considered as a sign of prosperity. Hindu traditions also say that the four pillars of the wedding mandap symbolize the parents of the bride and the groom and the critical role they have played in bringing up their children. A sacred fire is kept in the center throughout the ceremony.

    The Sapta Padi (Seven Steps)
    It is Hindu belief that if one person walks seven steps with another, they become friends. Because marriage does not exist without friendship, the bride and groom take seven steps together around the fire. These steps are symbolic of the couple’s journey through life together.
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  • amberlynnedamberlynned member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Very good!
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