The Ceremony

Indian weddings celebrate connection - between couples, families, social worlds. By bring these entities together, they represent a complex and joyous ritual.

Like all rituals, the wedding in any culture is a dramatic composition replete with expressive elements.  Anointed and Adorned explores an important sample of these features, especially the heightened and artful enactments that mark the significant and meaningful moments of the ceremony itself. 


Indian weddings are notably diverse from one region to another, one family to the next. A core of Hindu rites rooted in the Rig Veda connects all the ceremonies. Houston’s Indian weddings draw on this Sanskrit ceremony and are often detailed in elaborate programs that explain its numerous elements to all celebrants, Indians and non-Indians alike. 

Panditji discusses the main steps in the ritual. Interview by rati ramadas.

The ceremonial portion of the wedding always takes place in a traditional structure that is actually erected for the occasion known as a mandap.

This section of the exhibition explores five significant elements of the Hindu ceremony: the Anterpat, Kanyadaan, Mangalsutra, Pheras and Saptapadi.

The Anterpat is a screen that symbolizes the still separate lives of the bride and groom; when that screen is lowered, the couple is garlanded in a gesture that signifies their union. Then, the couples stand to garland each other, announcing their new status.

The Kanyadaan is a ceremony in which the water flowing from the hand of the bride’s mother to her husband’s palm to that of the groom and then on to the bride’s signifies a blessing and the transition of their daughter to this new union.

The Pheras is a process in which the couple circles the havan (a ceremonial fire) seeking the promise of righteousness, prosperity, love and spiritual enlightenment in their life ahead.

The groom fastens the Mangulstra (wedding necklace) on the bride after its proper blessing as a metaphor for the bond into which the couple has now entered.

The Saptapadi are the seven steps, literally and metaphorically, that the couple take to represent the vows they share upon entering married life. See the wedding program in the Couples section of the exhibit to explain what the steps are. 

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