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Stealing shoes to rocking on a swing: 5 fun and playful traditional South Indian wedding ceremonies

If you’ve been invited to a South Indian wedding and don’t know what to expect, we tell you why you’ll be having the time of your life at this extravagant ceremony!

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1. Gorgeous designs on the floor
Beautiful Rangoli or Kolam (intricate hand drawn patterns) can be found on the floor of the entrance - believed to welcome the gods and ward off evil spirits. These are made using materials such as coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals.

2. Be prepared for lots of singing and dancing 
For Indians, a wedding is a grand celebration of the union of two families. There will be a lot of singing and dancing involved. Everyone - from the bride and groom to their grandparents and friends - will be participating in the Gujarati folk dances. So be prepared to show off your best dance moves!

3. Swinging into a new life
The bride and groom will be seated on Oonchal (a swing) - where they rock back and forth - and the ladies around sing songs to praise the couple. The chains of the swing signify the eternal karmic link with the deity - and the motion of the swing represents the ups and downs of life. 

4. The groom’s shoes will be stolen 
Called Joota Chupai, it is tradition for the bride’s female relatives and/or friends (they're usually her sisters, cousins or bridesmaids) to steal the groom’s shoes when he enters the mandap (or pavilion) for the wedding ceremony. The shoes will be hidden somewhere the groom and his family won’t be able to find easily or at all. As the groom must leave the mandap in the same shoes he came in with, the girls ransom the shoes off to the groom. 

5. There’s no such thing as being too colourful 
Everyone at a South Indian wedding ceremony will be in their most lavish and colourful outfits. So don’t be apprehensive about attending dressed in bright colours. It all adds to the celebrations. However, try not to wear bright red as this is traditionally reserved for the bride! 

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