Marriages are definitely made in heaven. The fashion designers, hair style & makeup artists and event managers do their best to make the bride look stunning on this special day.
Sabyasachi Mukherji, the well known Indian fashion Designer has designed plenty bridal outfits for the brides all over India and abroad. His work is also been seen on the famous television show, ‘Baand Baaja Bride’.
Other designers such as Manish Malhotra, Rocky S, Vikram Phadnis, Ritu Kumar, etc have all made beautiful outfits for many brides. They have also showcased their bridal collections at the various fashion weeks and bridal shows. Bollywood celebrities such as Shilpa Shetty, Katrina Kaif, Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, etc have walked the ramps for the various well-known fashion designers.
Let’s look at the various Indian brides who belong to different regions and cultures
A modern take on traditional bridal wear
A designer bridal outfit
Indian Brides & The Traditional Wedding Ceremonies
Traditional Indian (Hindu) weddings are characterized by certain common rituals such as seeking the blessing of the Gods and ancestors, the haldi-chandan ceremony, the Sangeet (evening of music and dance), and the exchanging of gifts and so on. The actual wedding is generally characterized by the kanyadaan or panigrahan ( handing over the bride’s hand to the bridegroom by the bride’s father or maternal uncle), the saat-pheras, the tying of the mangalsutra/taali or the applying of sindur, followed by the bidaai ( farewell to the bride) ceremony.
These rituals are broadly followed all over the country, with understandable regional variations. For instance, in Kashmir, Punjab, and the Hindi belt, the mehendi ceremony is an intrinsic part of the wedding. In other parts of the country, where the henna ( mehendi ) plant does not grow, there is no emphasis on this ceremony. In Bengal, the wet weather and the widespread availability of red lac makes the alta (or alaktik-red lac) an important part of the bridal toilette.
Maharashtrian bride praying to Goddess Parvati
The saat pheras around a havan kund (agni) are common to every Hindu wedding, all over India. The blue silk saree and taali spells Tamil Nadu.
A Taali being tied in a Tamilian wedding.
The sindur ceremony – The bridegroom applies sindur on the brides forehead.This ritual is common in most Hindu Weddings.
In the case of Muslim weddings, the Kaazi ( religious preacher) conducts the nikaah ceremony, which is preceded by asking for the bride’s consent and objections, if any. Once the consent is given, the nikaah is conducted, followed by an elaborate feast, and exchange of gifts.
Christian weddings are conducted in a Church by a priest, but alike Hindu weddings, the bride is handed over to the groom by the bride’s father. The nuptials are followed by a typical wedding feast, dance and music.
Parsi weddings are also conducted in the place of worship, the Agiary. The Parsi wedding follows many Hindu practices. Thus, haldi-chandan and the gift-exchanging ceremonies are a precursor to the actual nuptials. The wedding( lagan) begins with a ceremonial bath and is followed by the priest ( Dastoor) conducting the lagan ceremony in the fire-temple, invoking the Gods and the ancestors. This is followed by a feast and music at a Parsi Baug ( literally a garden, which is actually an open compound) meant for festivities.
Indian Brides – Regional Variations in Bridal Sarees and Outfits
The bride generally wears a saree for the wedding ceremony in most parts of India, except for Rajasthan and the Punjab, where heavily embroidered chaniya cholis (lehenga choli) and bridal salwar kameezes with heavily embroidered phulkari dupattas in resham and zari work are worn by the brides respectively. Hindus generally opt for silk since it is considered the epitome of purity. The gorgeous red is generally the preferred colour for the bride in most parts of India. In Maharashtra, of course, green which stands for youth and vigour, is the colour opted for by the bride. Barring Assam and Kerala, where white or off-white is worn by the bride, bright coloured sarees or outfits are always considered all over India.
Amongst the Christians and the Parsis, whites or off-whites are the colours to be worn, while the north Indian Muslim brides, generally wears green. Other Muslim sects generally opt for bright or golden colours.
In Bengal, Banarasi Bridal Silk Sarees are the norm, while in Assam, the brides wear Assam silk sarees. In Maharashtra, the brides wear Paithani Silk Sarees, while Patan patola’s are what Gujarati brides wear. In most parts of south India, Kanjivaram Silk sarees are worn, except for Kerala, where kasavu (gold bordered off-white pattu saree) is what brides wear. In the states of the Hindi belt, the bridal sarees are embroidered in gold zari and are rich with stone embellishments.
All dressed up for the big day
The South Indian bride
Gujarat bride in a traditional silk saree on her wedding day
Maharashtrian bride in her Paithani nauvari saree and pearl headgear
The typical North Indian bride in a beautiful Bridal lehenga choli with kundan jewellery
A beautiful bride in all her finery
A Bengali bride in a red Banarasi saree and veil
Bridal Jewellery For The Indian Brides
In India, jewellery has always been an important part of the bridal trousseau. They were hence, stridhan ( women’s wealth) gifted by her parents to her alone. The maangtika or tikli, the kangan, the chandrahaar ( semi-circular necklace), sitahaar, nathni or nosering, jhumkas or chandbalis, anklets or payals and the bajubands (armlets) are common to all Indian brides. However, the designs for each differ according to the region. For instance, the maangtika is heavily-bejewelled in Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh as compared to the fine tikli in Bengal. Jhumkas or chandelier earrings are common to brides all over India. However, the Bengali jhumka might differ a little with the South Indian jhumka or the Punjabi jhumka. Chandbalis ( semi-circular earrings) are again a great favourite, and so are danglers. Bajubands ( armlets) too, are a perennial favourite all over the country, whether in southern, western or eastern India.
In the north, the kundan jewellery and the jadau are a favourite among Rajasthani brides, and so are the polki designs. In Kerala, kasu (coin) jewellery is what the bride wears, while the Bengali, Oriya and Assamese brides use fine gold designs. Certain jewellery may be typical to a region, such as the white shell and red coral bangles of the Bengali bride, the coral bead mangalsutra of the Saraswat brides of Goa , or the long dejaharu chains and tassels hanging from the earlobes of the kashmiri bride. Similarly, red and white choodas are the norm only among Punjabi and Rajasthani brides.
Once the wedding is concluded, it is time for bidai (farewell) – in certain religions its on the same day after the wedding and in a few its on the following day. When the new daughter-in-law is welcomed to her new home, the mother-in –law generally presents her with a pair of kadas or kangan (gold bangles). This is a common practice all over the country, and the kada, with little variation, is basically the same in style-whether in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab or Bengal. The gold bangles represents the most important piece of jewellery presented to the bride from the in-laws, and is passed from one generation to another.
Plain gold jhumkas go well with traditional bridal sarees
Stone –studded jhumkas
Chandrahaar with matching earrings are gifted to brides of the northern and southern India.
The bajuband (armlet).
Anklets are also worn by most Indian brides on their wedding day.
A South Indian bride in traditional temple jewellery.
The nose ring and the maang tikka are matched with the jewellery worn by the bride on their wedding day.
Indian Brides with Scarves, veils and odhnis
All over northern and eastern India, the bride wears a veil. In Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Assam, Kashmir and Himachal, this may be in the form of an elaborate odhni or saree. In Bengal, it is a Banarasi tissue or zari veil.
The practice is common to Muslim, Parsi and Christian brides as well. A gold or white net veil is preferred among Christians, while an elaborate odhni or saree is the norm with Muslim and Parsi brides.
A typical Kerala Christian bride
The yellow odhni and lehenga against a red brocade blouse with kundan jewellery spells a north Indian Bride.
Indian Bride- Hairdos and Hair Embellishments
In northern and eastern India, the bride generally wears a chignon or high bun, but southern brides prefer their hair plaited. Flowers and hair accessories are used to decorate the plait, which ends with bejewelled tassels. In the case of a bun or even an updo, jewelled clips or pins are used to decorate the hair for that special effect.
Of course, the opting for a bun is related to the use of a veil or odhni in the north and east. Since veils are generally not used in southern India, a well-decorated plait, with jewelled clips bestowed the best bridal look possible.
North Indian Muslim brides prefer their embellishments placed side ways on the forehead, since the richly-embroidered odhni tends to hide the jewellery .
Among Christian brides in Kerala, Mangalore or Goa, a chignon or an up do is the preferred hairdo, since a veil is traditionally worn on the head.
A traditional South Indian bride.