Indian weddings are very bright events, filled with ritual and celebration, that continue for several days. They are generally not small affairs, with anywhere between 100 to 10,000 people attending. Oftentimes it is possible that many of the attendees are unknown to the bride and groom themselves. Though most Indian marriages are arranged, some couples in urban areas have what are known as "love marriages", where the partners decide to marry each other without family involvement or assistance. The traditional Indian wedding is more about two families being brought together 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 Satphere), and the Vidaai.
Vidaai is when the bride is formally sent to the groom’s household. It can get quite emotional even for the most stonehearted. Many heart-wrenching songs have immortalized this moment when the bride leaves her ‘babul ka ghar’ or father’s house
An example of the complexity of an Indian wedding can be seen from the various phases of a wedding in North India. The following events take place in a typical Eastern Uttar Pradesh Hindu marriage:
According to Hindu religious texts, Brahma created man from the right shoulder and woman from his left shoulder. A woman is referred to as Vamangi or one who is on the left side. Throughout the marriage ceremony the bride sits on the right side of the groom. That is the place for strangers and acquaintances. Only after the Saptpadi, when the bride and groom have exchanged marital vows, is the wife seated on the left side of the man.
Bride and groom are told about their duties and responsibilities in married life by priest.