Don’t you just love a Christian bride with all her glowy beauty and creamy white gown? The very image of her walking down the aisle adorned with flowers makes every girl wish she had a Christian wedding! Although Indian Christian weddings are quite different, they are very beautiful and have a series of customs just like Hindu weddings. How about looking at a few of the customs and rituals of a Christian wedding in India?
1. Engagement ceremony
Christians always have an engagement ceremony before the marriage. The parents of both sides throw this party to make a declaration about their wards’ wedding. The churches are also informed of the same.
2. Bridal shower
It’s a private function meant only for the bride and her friends. Her friends bring her bridal shower gifts. In this event, the bride is given a pink cake that has a thimble hidden somewhere. The girl who gets the piece with the thimble is said to be the next in line to wed.
3. Bachelor party
The groom’s friends throw him a bachelor party to mark the end of his bachelor days and the start of a new life as a married man.
4. Roka ceremony
The one element that is peculiar to Indian Christian weddings and is absent in western marriages is the Roka ceremony. It’s a Christian version of Haldi-like ritual followed by the Hindus. This ceremony which is also known as Haldaat, is followed by North Indian Christian folks. The couple are smeared with Haldi paste. In south India, this ceremony is performed by anointing the bride and the groom with coconut oil and juice.
Christian Wedding Day Rituals
5. The entry of the bride
The bride makes a grand entry on her big day. She comes in a car that her would-be sends, and is then greeted by the best man that she has selected. After she enters the venue, she is escorted by her father who walks side by side. The groom waits for his bride who is handed over to him for the marriage vows.
6. Recitation of vows
The couple then recites their vows of marriage.
7. I do
This is the most important part of the wedding in which the priest asks for the couple’s consent. When the answer is I do and then the groom and bride are announced as married. They exchange their first kiss as a married couple.
8. Tying a wedding thali to solemnise the marriage
The westerners don’t follow this, but our Indian Christian grooms tie a thali (Mangalsutra) around their bride’s necks. This is typically followed by South Indian Christians.
9. Bouquet throw
After the wedding ceremony is over, a bouquet held by the bride is thrown at unmarried gals. The one catching it is supposed to get married soon.
Post marriage rituals
The Christians believe in throwing grander than grand reception parties for their friends and family. Once married, they are cheered with confetti. At the venue, food and drinks are catered for all. The couple cut a cake and dance along with the rest of the crowd. The Goan and Konkan Christian weddings typically have European and Konkani cuisines.
Types of Christian Weddings in India
The wedding rituals of Protestant Christians
Every Protestant marriage is governed by its own church that follows rituals differently. All Protestant weddings like those of Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists follow The Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer. Here are some typical rituals associated with their weddings:
Invoking the blessings of God: Any Protestant Christian wedding starts with welcoming everyone to pray to God before the couple is married. The priest then reads passages from the Bible.
The giving away of the bride: Here, the priest asks the father and her mother the question “who gives this woman to be married to this man?” Once, the parents say ‘I do’, vows get exchanged.
Exchange of vows: The couple then exchanges their vows that they have written themselves or follow a set that’s already prepared.
The exchange of rings between the bride and groom takes place.
Unity candles are lit by the couple to symbolize their marriage.
Closing ceremony with a pronouncement by the priest takes place next. The couple is pronounced married and kiss.
The rituals followed by Knanayas are very different than others. Some important customs are:
Othukalyanam or the engagement ritual
When the rings are exchanged, announcing the marriage.
Mylanchi Ideel and Chantham Chaarthu
Beautification rituals for the bride and the groom respectively. They are held at their houses, and can either be on the morning of the wedding day, or a day before. It involves applying henna to the hands and feet of the bride, and grooming of the bridegroom.
The wedding day rituals are the same as any Christian wedding.
Wedding rituals of Saint Thomas and Kerala Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians folks follow some very common Hindu rituals of a wedding like tying of the thali around the bride’s neck and offering Mantrakodi, the very first gift to the bride from her groom.
The Keralite Christians have a function called Aachaarakalyanam, a ritual where the old members of the bride’s family make a visit to the groom’s place and fix the wedding date. Next, both the families assemble at the bride’s church. This is called Manasamatham. This is when rings are exchanged and it ends with a gala meal for all guests. The wedding is held at the church. All Keralite brides wear Minnukettu, a thali.
A Christian wedding in India follows pretty much the same customs as those of Westerners but has many Hindu elements that make it much more traditional and Indian.
What are your thoughts about Christian wedding rituals? Let us know through comments.