What do I wear?
For the actual wedding day, dress will be formal. You will see many
people wearing Indian outfits like salwar
kameez or saris,
and don't be surprised if people change between the ceremony and the
At the raas-garba, we recommend wearing clothes
that you'll feel comfortable moving around in. For the ladies, a
mid-length dress or skirt would work well, as long as it's not so tight
that it restricts movement. Slacks and shirts for guys are fine. Raas
and garba are generally done barefoot, so skip the
stockings and hose and bring shoes you don't mind taking off and
leaving in a corner somewhere.
What is raas-garba
and do I have to be Indian to come?
Absolutely not! Raas-Garba is a night of energetic
and playful dancing that commonly takes place before weddings. Raas
and Garba are typical Gujarati folk dances that
everyone can participate in. You don't even know how to dance - we'll
teach you the basics. The steps are easy to learn, and it's fun to
watch even if you're not the dancing type!
Garba is done solo and involves rhythmic steps in a
circular form. There are simple versions that involve repeating a short
sequence of steps, or more complex versions that require a little
coordination. Different groups of people are doing different things
simultaneously, so it is easy to jump in wherever you're comfortable.
Each song is quite long (about 30 minutes) but you don't have to do it
continuously - people leave and join all the time. The music starts off
slow, but speeds up as time goes on so things get fun and crazy at the
Raas is done in pairs while holding sticks called dandia.
The dance involves hitting your partner's dandia
with your own while following the beat of the music. Again, the most
basic version involves repeating 5 simple steps and is very easy to
learn. (If you're not yet convinced, don't worry - we'll have some raas
lessons too!) Raas is also easy-come-easy-go with
the caveat that you have to leave/join in pairs so there isn't an odd
can get an idea of what to expect by checking out these movies from a
recent raas-garba we attended:
is an example of Gopi in a small garba circle.
is Sunil showing off his mad dandia twirling
I heard Indian ceremonies are
really long. How long will yours be?
Before the ceremony, the groom's guests and family members will make
their way to the wedding venue in a grand fashion (see "elephants"
below). Once the ceremony starts, it will last about an hour.
What will the ceremony be like?
The ceremony will take place under a canopy-like structure called a mandap.
A Hindu priest will officiate and numerous relatives perform specific
roles under his guidance. The bride and groom will be seated in front
of the priest for most of the ceremony. The priest will recite verses
in Sanskrit, but will also provide English explanations of the rituals.
The ceremony will involve Gujarati
customs, as both our families are originally from the state of Gujarat
in India. More detailed information will be available in our wedding
Will you exchange rings? Do you
take vows and say, "I do"? Will the bride and groom kiss?
While exchanging rings is not a traditional part of the Indian
ceremony, we will be incorporating this custom into ours. The groom
will also give the bride a mangalsutra,
or sacred necklace, as a symbol of their marriage. There are seven vows
taken during the ceremony, but you won't see us locking lips.
I hear the bride and groom and
their families play games during the ceremony - what's this about?
There are a lot of fun traditions surrounding Indian weddings. One is
for the bride's sisters (or cousins) to steal the groom's shoes as he
takes them off before entering the mandap. The
groom must pay the sisters to get them back because he is supposed to
leave the mandap with the same shoes he came in.
Another game occurs when the bride and groom race to their seats after
circling a fire, as it is said that the first one to sit down will have
the upper hand in the household.
What will the bride and groom
During the ceremony, the bride wears a type of sari
called a panetar and the groom will wear a sherwani.
Both will be white and red, which are traditional wedding colors.
What is the significance of
henna or mehndi? Mehndi
is a temporary natural dye used as an adornment by women, and is often
associated with special celebrations such as weddings. It is put on the
bride's hands and feet a day or two before the wedding in intricate
patterns, and it is also common for women to apply mehndi
when attending a wedding.
What about the jewel ornaments
on women's foreheads?
was traditionally a symbol of married women, but is now more commonly
just for decoration.
Why is there a swastika on your
A swastika is an auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
While in the west it has connotations to the Nazi Party, in India it is
found everywhere as a symbol of wealth, prosperity, and good luck,
particularly during weddings and festivas. More information about its
history can be found here.
OK, enough about the wedding.
What about the food?
There will be Indian vegetarian food at all of the wedding events. More
specifically, the food will be Jain
since some members of our families follow strict Jain
diets. This means there will be no root vegetables such as potatoes,
carrots, onions, etc. nor will there be any eggs, meat or alcohol. The
basis for a Jain
diet is a religious belief that treats all living things with respect.
(Don't worry - we've tried the food, and it's quite tasty!)
What's this I hear about
Typically, the groom arrives at the wedding hall in a grand fashion
with a dancing entourage and seated in a fancy car, on a horse, or even
on an elephant. We are partial towards elephants.
questions? Email us and we'll add to the list!