Indian Wedding Etiquette
Although India is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, demonstrated by its 23 official languages, some general guidelines apply to all Indian weddings to make attending them as culturally immersive as possible. With some prior knowledge about these events, you’ll know how to act and what to expect. So, if you plan on attending an Indian wedding soon or want to learn more about the rich Indian culture, Knowles Hospitality has the tips for you.
Appropriate Outfits at Indian Weddings
Adorning oneself in bright colors is an Indian cultural standard, but wearing red, white, or black as a wedding attendee is a no-no. Red belongs to the bride, a hue symbolizing purity and plenitude. Black is traditionally associated with bad omens. Lastly, white, worn by widows and funeral mourners, symbolizes death. So, you’ll want to exclude these colors from your outfit selection.
Western wear is, for the most part, acceptable, but make sure you keep the outfit looking modest. This links to the Indian value of purity, one of the six enemies in the Hindu Tradition is sexual desire. In the interest of fitting in and being respectful, it would be best not to show too much skin.
What to Gift at Indian Weddings
There is no stringent guide to gift-giving for Indian weddings, but silver and monetary offerings are two customary routes one could take. Silver is an Indian sign of fortune and is a huge consumption trend. In 2018 alone, India consumed nearly 76.5 million ounces. Gifting silver symbolizes a wish for the wealth of married couples. Alternatively, for money gifts, amounts should always end in the digit one. That pending 1 rupee or dollar is considered an additional debt created by the exchange which binds its members. It also can symbolize an added surplus to the gift’s blessings.
Rituals are King
Indian weddings are incredibly ritual-oriented. Since these rites can last for up to three days, you’ll want to clear up your schedule, so you don’t miss the celebration. Given their deep cultural significance, arriving on time is also of great importance.
During rituals, some respectful behavior standards are key. Following the crowd is a good rule of thumb for appropriate behavior, but there are a few basic standards you should know. First, during most ceremonies, you must take off your shoes as a sign of respect and humility. Also, cameras are generally a faux pas, with flashes creating a possible disruption. Lastly, if given a blessed, whole-wheat confection called “Karah Prashad,” receive it in cupped hands and never eat it with your left hand, traditionally considered to be unclean.
General Ways to Behave at Indian Weddings
Given the strong emphasis on group identity, interpersonal signs of respect are essential at an Indian Wedding. Within family dynamics, older members are highly venerated. Thus, you should kindly greet elders as either Aunty and Uncle, or Mr. and Mrs. More broadly, a respectful greeting is a “Namaste” combined with a nod or bow, tokening an interpersonal exchange of the divine. Next, dancing with or kissing the bride is a no-no, given the expectation that she be especially modest on her day.
For food and drinks, Indian idiosyncrasies again are essential to understand. Only about 1/3 of India’s population consumes alcohol, a trend underlining the recommendation not to drink to excess at an Indian wedding. For food, nearly the opposite is true. Indian family sit-down meals are a huge pillar of bonding within the home, and offering another food is a sign of respect. So, while you should drink less, it’s most respectful to appreciate the plenitude of food at Indian weddings.
Let Knowles Plan Your Upcoming Indian Wedding
India’s wedding traditions point toward a huge emphasis on group cohesion and collective celebration. Make yourself an honorary member of one of these enclaves by remembering these guidelines the next time you are an attendee at one of these events. For six generations, Knowles Hospitality events have made possible this same sort of group binding. Our event venues also place a similar emphasis on history and character, which can give your wedding real meaning. Call (973) 731-2360 today to book a meeting with the Knowles wedding planning team.