Some Bizarre And Often Beautiful Wedding Rituals Across Cultures

Posted: March 19, 2016

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Wedding rituals can be very specific to cultures, often depending upon the social history and geography. They can often create wonderful memories.

‘Marriages are made in Heaven and solemnized on Earth.’

This is so very true, but solemnizing them is not an easy task. Post-wedding, the marriage requires sustained effort and a lot of understanding to succeed. But, my area of focus here is not the marriage vows and its aftermath, but various quaint wedding rituals and customs, both in India, and in other cultures abroad.

Matrimony has been the long lasting social practice, prevalent across civilized and tribal sections of the world, and exhibits unique rituals. The traditions and functions associated with marriage, encapsulating a wedding ceremony, vary from state to state. We know about common rituals such as ‘saat phere‘, ‘qubool hai‘, ‘I do‘, etc., but the world over we have some bizarre customs that grab our attention and are of course beautiful rituals.

India – specifically North-Indian weddings

I have always enjoyed the Himachali weddings which are almost similar to Punjabi weddings in customs, where there is this ritual of hiding the shoes of the bridegroom, ransom in terms of money is asked by the saalis (sisters-in-law) of the groom. It is a kind of prank that is an ice-breaker, and after receiving the due amount from the groom, the shoes are then offered back to him, after which the ritual is complete. Traditionally ransom used to be gold trinkets but now they have been conveniently replaced by hard cash. Apart from this tradition, the saalis ask for glichidi (gold rings) from their Jijaji (brother-in-law. Here, the groom).

Indian brides cry and shed buckets of tears – I have seen brides cry their eyes out at their wedding as it is an emotional moment for them. In the past going away to the matrimonial home to another place meant that it was almost impossible for them to be in touch with their natal families.

Anglo-Saxon

In western weddings, I have always noticed the bride standing on the left of the groom. Well, this tradition goes back to the time when the Anglo-Saxon groom had to protect his bride from would be kidnappers, so she was made to stand on the left, leaving his sword-arm free. The best warrior of the tribe stood by the groom’s side, hence started the trend of a ‘best man’.

Well, another tradition there which is almost similar to the one followed in India is the ‘veil’ being an important part of the wedding attire. The story behind it is quite funny – that the bridegroom cannot see his bride till the marriage is solemnized so that he would not flee at the altar! This holds a lesser significance in today’s scenario, as familiarity no longer breeds contempt but is essential for a healthy relationship along with following and respecting the customs.

China

It was interesting to know about a wedding farewell similar to the Indian bride’s tears amongst a certain community in China. Here it is customary for the bride to cry for an hour everyday starting from one month before her wedding. After ten days her mother also joins her, then her grandmother, followed by all the women folk in the family. Thus, all the women crying in different tones is considered to be an expression of joy by them.

France

Another tradition which I recently became aware of is from France – as told by my husband after his return from a visit there. Called ‘Charivari‘, it involves a noisy, annoying serenade by friends and family members of the newly weds. After the wedding, they all gather outside the bride and groom’s house and make a lot of noise by singing and banging utensils in order to create a cacophony, following which couple invites them inside as a gesture of ‘thanks’ for coming, followed by a small celebration with food and drinks post the ear-shattering display.

North Africa

But, the most interesting of traditions I have come across and read about is the tradition followed in a North African state, the tradition of ‘eat and eat’. Girls start preparing for the wedding years before the ceremony. Instead of the usual trend worldwide of slimming and toning for the wedding day, in this part of Africa the girls between the age-group of 5 to 15 years are sent to ‘fat farms’ in order to put on weight, the custom is called ‘Leblouh’. The calorie intake by these girls is four times the calories an adult body builder takes each day. The idea behind all this is to develop stomach rolls with overlapping thighs – which are considered to indicate that her husband is wealthy enough to keep her satisfied.

It is absolutely true that good memories make our life worth living but good old small rituals and customs make a wedding memorable and a marriage cherished for a life time and beyond…

So, what are the rituals that you, my readers, have found interesting? Are there any that you remember from your wedding, that have created lasting memories? Do share in the comments.

Image source: saat phere Hindu wedding ritual by Shutterstock.

A woman of today ,I love to travel and live life simple and happy. Writing

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