One of the most talked about pre-wedding events, the Sangeet, is a celebration of coming together of the two families in the union of their children. The ceremony offers respite from all the hectic seriousness of the wedding preparations. Women of the family get together several days before the wedding day with dolaks and spoons, surround the bride and sing traditional wedding songs. Subjects of the song range from about daily life of women to teasing the bride about her upcoming wedding and her groom. Some referred to the dreams and hopes of the bride who is parting from her family while some tell of the pain parents go through while sending their daughter off to her in-laws. There would be dancing as well, with the women of the household dancing away along with the bride participating with gusto. Previously, it used to last for a few days, but nowadays its mostly one day, and sometimes one evening.
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Mehendi ceremony is a colourful, musical and lively celebration. Different families have different customs during the ceremony. It is usually held a day before the wedding, and is often combined with sangeet ceremony.
The bride and other females in the family get decorative mehendi designs on their hands and feet. It is an occasion for both parties to have some fun, mixed with the usual dancing and feasting.
The ceremony gets its name from the application of haldi or turmeric that happens during the ritual. The importance given to turmeric in Indian kitchens and rituals is phenomenal, thanks to the host of health benefits that it offers. Haldi is not just used to add taste and colour to food, but it also bears significant religious importance.
The most important component of the haldi ceremony is the ‘haldi paste’ that is made by mixing turmeric, sandalwood powder and rose water to form a fragrant mixture that is applied on the body. Elderly ladies in the family apply this paste on the hands, feet, arms, legs and face of the bride and the groom and bless them as they gear up for their big day. The event is replete with lots of music, fun and tasty food before the madness of the wedding festivities begin!
The wedding rituals begin with the Jaimala ceremony, in which the bride and the groom exchange flower garlands. After this, they are taken to the mandap where the Kanyadaan ritual is performed. In this ritual, the bride's father gives away his daughter to the groom, while the priest chants mantras. After this, the Mangalpheras take place around the sacred fire. They also take the seven vows called Saptapadi, and promise to abide by them throughout their lives. After this, the groom puts sindoor or vermillion in the bride's hair parting. This is followed by tying of mangalsutra around the bride's neck by the groom. .