Frequently Asked Questions


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 reception.
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 end. 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 man out.
You can get an idea of what to expect by checking out these movies from a recent raas-garba we attended:
This is an example of Gopi in a small garba circle.
This is Sunil showing off his mad dandia twirling skillz.
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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 program.

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 be wearing?
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?
The bindi was traditionally a symbol of married women, but is now more commonly just for decoration.

Why is there a swastika on your invitations?
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 elephants?
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.

Comments? More questions? Email us and we'll add to the list!