India has a large geographic spread and several states make up this nation. Each geographic location has its own unique language, traditions, beliefs and customs.

Like many other traditions weddings are a big affair. The rituals of wedding differ from place to place and caste to caste. Most weddings are an elaborate affair in India.

Let’s study one such wedding ritual. Below are the rituals of a Kannada Shivalli Brahmin wedding.

The Shivalli Brahmin weddings are an elaborate affair with many rituals and customs. However with time many rituals are dropped. With the exposure to other cultures many new ones are adopted

In all arranged marriages matching of the horoscope is a must. Only if the horoscopes match will the wedding procedure take place. After the horoscopes match the Mahurat for the wedding is chalked out.

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Nakshatangla or the engagement ceremony is performed. Here the bride is gifted a Saree, some jewellery and sweets by the grooms family. The groom is gifted clothes, and sweets by the bride’s family. The bride and groom also exchange rings. The priest chants a few mantras. This ceremony could take place a few months before the actual wedding date or a day prior to the wedding date. At this ceremony the date for the actual wedding, total number of guests expected and other formality are discussed by the elders of the family.

Nandi is another pre-wedding ceremony performed either a few days prior to the wedding or a day earlier to the wedding depending on the horoscope and stars. This ceremony involves a puja with coconut, Aarti and a copper kalash [pot]. This is done to ensure the wedding takes place without any hitches. The first invitation card is offered to the gods. Yes the invitation card or wedding card is a common element of most weddings.

Kashi Yatra: This is fun ritual where the groom pretends to get angry that no one is searching for a bride for him and so walks away for a Kashi yatra [a pilgrimage]. He carries with him an umbrella, walking stick, fan, coconut and some food grain. At this point his maternal uncle stops him and promises to give his daughter to the groom in marriage.


The wedding ceremony takes place in a temple or a marriage hall. Most rituals are done in the wedding hall. One important ceremony is to replace the groom’s janivara [a thread round the shoulder] with 6 cotton strands of thread. This marks the entry into grahastha ashram.

Havan: On the day of the wedding a havan is performed in the respective houses of the groom and the bride. This is done to seek divine blessings

Welcoming the groom: When the groom and his family reaches the wedding venue, the sumangali [married women] from the bride's family perform an Aarti. Then these sumangalis offer each other Haldi, kum kum and flowers. This is a traditional welcome.

One of the important wedding item is the Mantapa. Mantapa is the area where the wedding ceremony takes place. On the day of the marriage the mandap puja is performed to sanctify this area where the sacred wedding ritual will be performed.

The brides father gets the groom to the mandap and performs the Var puja. The brides parents honour him by washing his feet and offer him a silk dhoti and pitambar which he needs to wear for the wedding.

Most important ornament: In hindu weddings the most important ornament is the Mangalsutra, or the karimani or the mahurat mani etc.. Amongst kannadigas the bride wears 2 Taali [pendant] attached to a karimani [chain of black beads]. One of these tallis is purchased by the brides side and the rest by the grooms side.

The Garlanding Ceremony also called the Jaimal. The bride's mother or mami [maternal uncle's wife] makes the bride wear a 'talli' with karimani. This symbolises that the bride is now grown up and the talli is for her protection, and she is sent out of the house.

The brides maternal uncle and his wife lead the bride to the mantap. The brides face is covered with a fan. At the mantap the bride and bridegroom stand opposite each other and a piece of cloth is placed between them such that they cannot see each other. After the recitation of mangalashtam they gromm and the bride exchange garlands.

Dhare: This ceremony marks the giving away of the bride to the groom by the brides father. The brides father places the grooms hand and places it on the brides hand and ceremonially pours water into the grooms hand, this is called the dhara. This signifies that she is now his. Corn/rice is then put into the havan five times. The corn rice is handedover to the bride and groom by the brides brother. This is followed by the pheras and saptapadi.

The bride makes a fist of her palms with the thums up and places it on the ground. The groom holds her thumb and then the pheras and saptapadi is performed. This signifies that the mother earth is a withness to their wedding. Going around the holy fire make fire a witness to their wedding.

The talli and mangal sutra is blessed by all those at the wedding then it is touched to the karimani of 5 married women and then the groom ties the karimani around the neck of the bride.

The couple then take the blessings of the elders sitting at the wedding ceremony and then visit the temple for diving blessings.

At the end some fun games like the ring game the chappe [mat] game is played by the women from the bride and grooms side.

The vidai marks the end of the wedding ceremony. The bride leaves her paternal home and goes to her husband's house.

Post wedding:

At the husbands house the graha pravesh is performed. Here the bride kicks a kalash full of rice kept on the threshold with her right foot. This signifies that the bride brings abundance into the house.

Bigara authana: This ceremony is performed at the groom's side. It involves a satyanarayan puja followed by lunch hosted by the groom's family. It's like a wedding reception.

While each state, region, caste etc.. Follow a different type of wedding ritual. A few rituals or items used in the wedding ceremony remain common. E.g: the wedding invitation cards, the mangalsutra, the glass bangles, kanya daan, saptapadi, and satyanarayan puja etc.