Weddings are a time of uniting two people in marriage and rejoicing in the love they share. The dictionary defines marriage as the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Wedding customs in India, Scotland, and America share similar rituals / traditions. In India the bride wears a putto on her head like the traditional American bride wears a veil. The Scottish bride has a feet washing like the India bride. Even with similarities, each culture has their own unique way of conducting the ceremony. As a social practice, entered into through a public act, the wedding ceremony reflects the rituals, apparel, and customs of the society in which it is found.
In the Hindu wedding custom, ceremonies can last for days and involve rituals in Sanskrit. This is an ancient Indic language that may be understood only by the priest conducting the service. The ceremony is performed under a canopy which is known as a mandap. This is a sacred place where shoes are not allowed. The brides and grooms feet are cleansed by the brides parents before they enter the mandap. The brides hands are painted with henna or mehndi to decorate her hands and feet. It is believed that the longer the paint stays on the hands of the bride and the brighter the red coloring, the bride will be treated well by her in-laws and that her future husband will be good to her. The wedding sari, the gown, is bought months before with the bride, her mother and maternal aunt. There are three marriage saris to be bought: engagement, wedding, reception. Each sari is woven with 22 karat gold thread and are very intricate and heavy. The engagement sari is of any bright color; the wedding sari is usually red or gold and should compliment the brides’ complexion; the reception sari should indicate wealth through design and color. The brides forehead is also adorned with a red dot (pottu or bindi) that the groom places on her forehead to signify her marriage and to open up the third eye. The bride is to wear this symbol through out her marriage.