Weddings

5 useful Indian and Eurasian wedding traditions you need to know

A continued exploration of treasured traditions and customs that go beyond the white dress and veil.
 

The groom's party makes its way to the wedding venue. PHOTO: Shangri-La Hotel Singapore

Depending on which part of India the bride and groom or their ancestors came from, there are many Hindu traditions. Lynette Chew, the Director of Events Management of Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, shares the most commonly practised ones here:

Henna/Mehndi Ceremony 
Mehndi is the Indian variant of henna designs. The ceremony for applying it to a bride's hands and feet usually takes place two days before the wedding. This beautification ceremony is witnessed and celebrated by the bride's close friends and female relatives. And it is traditional for the names of the couple to be hidden in the design. Back in the day, their wedding night could not begin until he found both names. 

The wedding day
In North India, the Hindu groom usually arrives on a horse, but this is Singapore. So, like all other grooms, he comes in a car and is usually accompanied by a young nephew or cousin wearing a similar outfit, and who acts as his protector. According to tradition, once the groom enters the ceremonial venue, the bride's wedding party will hide his shoes to ensure he will not run off during the marriage. 
After the groom takes his place on the stage, the bride makes her entrance, and they exchange garlands as a gesture of acceptance of one another and a pledge to respect each other. Later, the couple walks seven steps together around the holy fire to honour their vows to each other. He then ties a sacred black thread around her neck and applies a small dot of vermilion powder to the bride’s forehead and welcomes her as his partner for life. To complete the ritual, the parents of the bride and groom must give their blessings.

PHOTO: Eliza & Melvin's wedding, Her World Brides

Eurasian weddings mostly begin with the exchange of vows in a Catholic church and all non-Christians are welcome to attend.

The proposal
Before a guy pops the question, he meets with his potential bride's father or parents to ask for her hand in marriage. In the past, his father would have had to write a letter to his mum's family, requesting permission to marry her. Afterwards, one way to find out if the engaged couple had set a date was to ask when "the cake and wine day" was happening.

Saying I do
On the actual day, as the bride usually wears a white gown, guests refrain from wearing white dresses or outfits so as not to steal the attention away from her. Her father walks her down the aisle in church and hands her over to the groom at the church altar, where they exchange vows in the presence of a priest and their guests. 
On exiting the church, the couple are usually showered with confetti before they drive off in a car festooned with tin cans and bottles to indicate that they’re newlyweds.

Party time
After the solemnisation ceremony, some couples usually have a small reception with light bites or serve lunch
This is followed by a celebration that can get quite raucous as Eurasians love a good party. It usually begins with drinks followed by dinner (typically Western or Eurasian), and then there are speeches, followed by the cutting of the cake (usually a sugee cake) and the first dance, where the bride takes to the floor with her father and the groom with his mother. About midway through, they are joined by everyone else. The newlyweds usually party late into the night with their guests. Before they leave, there is the tossing of the bouquet and sometimes a garter to the single women and men in the party. The one who catches either one is said to the next to marry. 

This story was first published in Her World Brides June - August 2015.

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