India's culture is marked by a high degree of syncretism and cultural pluralism. It has managed to preserve established traditions while absorbing new customs, traditions, and ideas from invaders and immigrants and spreading its cultural influence to other parts of Asia.
Traditional Indian society is defined by relatively strict social hierarchy. The Indian caste system describes the social stratification and social restrictions in the Indian subcontinent, in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed as jatis or castes.
Traditional Indian family values are highly respected, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm, although nuclear family are becoming common in urban areas. An overwhelming majority of Indians have their marriages arranged by their parents and other respected family-members, with the consent of the bride and groom. The marriage is thought to be for life, and the divorce rate is extremely low. Child marriage is still a common practice, with half of women in India marry before the legal age of 18.
Hindu weddings are very bright events, filled with ritual and celebration, that continue for several days. They are not small affairs, often with 400-1000 people attending (many of whom are unknown to the bride and groom). Though most marriages are arranged, some couples in urban areas have love marriages. The true Indian wedding is about two families getting wedded socially with much less emphasis on the individuals involved.
Wedding traditions vary across religion, caste, ethnicity, language, region, etc. Traditional Indian weddings are generally structured into pre-wedding ceremonies, wedding day ceremonies (consisting of the Baraat, the Varmala and the Phere), and the Vidaai.
India, a large country located in South Asia is made of twenty eight states and seven union territories. These states are populated by people belonging to different communities who speak a plethora of different languages and follow different religions. Though a vast majority of Indians are Hindus other world religions such as Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity are also practiced by the people of India. All these different communities have their own traditions and rituals and tend to adhere to them. Marriage however forms an integral part of Indian society and the planning and execution of an Indian wedding is serious business. Such is the importance of the Indian wedding in Indian Society that it has spurred the growth of one of the fastest growing industries in India. The Indian Wedding industry is worth millions of dollars and it generates employment for a number of people.
An Indian wedding depending on the wishes and the budget of the
people involved can last for a few days and in some cases an entire
week. Many Indians consider their wedding day to be the most important
day of their lives and they spare no expense in having the most
elaborate ‘functions’ ( a colloquial word used to describe the events
associated with a wedding) . From the invitations, to the five star
locations adorned with elaborate floral displays to the customary
wedding feasts everything is usually planned meticulously.
Even in the poorest rungs of Indian society a father plans and saves for years for his daughters wedding. In India , by and large it is the bride’s family who pays for the wedding festivities. Unfortunately in some communities in addition to bearing the expense of the wedding the brides family is expected to furnish the groom’s family with a ‘dowry’ which may be in the form of money or material goods. However nowadays, this unhealthy practice is being actively resisted by educated and emancipated brides who refuse to have anything to do with dowry hungry groom.Another aspect of the Indian Wedding which must be mentioned is that many marriages in India even until this day are ‘arranged’. These are unions decided and arranged by families rather than the bride and the groom. The base criteria for arranged marriages are usually similarity of community and religion. Added to these criteria is a major requirement of good if not a perfect alignment of the stars as the horoscopes of the bride and groom are almost always matched in the instance of an ‘arranged marriage’. The personalities and likes and dislikes of the bride and groom are hardly taken into account.