20 Quirky Indian Wedding Rituals You Won't Believe Exist

- Sep 01, 2022 - 95.7K Views

An Indian wedding is like a colorful circus. With its own acrobatics, performances and jokers too! It is rightly said in the Indian culture that a girl does not only marry the boy, but weddings are actually a union of two families. (And the families’ friends. And their neighbours. And their distant acquaintances!) Indian weddings are a big, mad party that lasts for days together and are full of intriguing and sometimes hilarious rituals. Moving on from tree marriages and hiding shoes, Indians have devised many clever and unique ceremonies to celebrate the union of husband, wife and their families. 

Here are our picks for some quirky Indian wedding rituals that might seem outrageous to anybody who does not understand the culture.

1. The Balancing Act

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In Bihari weddings, the bride is made to show her agile acrobatic skills. She has to bow down to seek blessings of the elders while simultaneously balancing earthen pots on her head. Talk about performance pressure!

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2. Runaway Groom

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In Tamil weddings, just before he takes the most important step of his life, the groom is expected to perform a skit. He has to pretend that he has had a sudden epiphany and would rather renounce the material world than dive deeper into it. The bride’s father has to offer him a range of props to lure him back!

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3. Wedding Tomatina

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In a small village in Bihar, the baraatis or the groom’s side are welcomed with tomatoes and potatoes instead of flowers and perfume. Oh wait, they are also hurled with abuses! This is said to keep bad omens at bay. How rude!

4. Pleasing the River

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In Bengali weddings, the River Ganga gets to feast first. A plate full of delicious offerings is fed to the river to seek her blessings. The fish ain’t complaining!

5. Flags for the Bride and the Groom

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In Kumaoni weddings, the wedding procession or baraat is led by a white flag which is the symbol of the groom. The procession also has a red flag for the beautiful bride. How royal, isn’t it?

6. Pinching Games

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While doing the welcome aarti, the mother in law has to try and pinch the nose of the groom. This is a little ice breaker for the groom and the bride’s family, done in a playful spirit. Quite a pain for the groom though!

7. The Sword Fight

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A Rajput bride has to hit her husband with a sword (symbolically, of course!) as a test of his strength. If he manages to duck her blows, he is deemed fit for her. Whoever said that marriage is only an emotional pain!

8. Foot Loose

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In Sindhi weddings, the bride and the groom are encouraged to get into a foot fight. Each of them has to try to keep their own foot above their partner’s foot. Although it is done in a playful spirit, it is said that this shows which of them will have an upper hand in the marriage. Let’s take it outside, I say!

9. Pulling the Groom’s Ears

Image Source: imgrum.org

Handing over a beloved sister to another man is not easy for any brother. In Maharashtrian weddings, the bride’s brother pulls the ear of her new husband, as a warning for the groom to take care of his sister. This rather adorable custom is one way of showing the love the bride’s family has for her.

10. Sithanis 

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The big fat Punjabi wedding includes a ritual in which the female members of the family sing explicit and mischievous songs. These are often mean to taunt the groom’s family in good faith. While many of the people endure the teasing good-naturedly, the source of drama at a Punjabi wedding is not a mystery anymore. 

11. Chantham Charthal 

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Before his wedding day, the Knayaya groom is made to sit in front of his relatives and a barber is summoned to shave the groom’s beard. However, the barber needs to ask permission three times from the assembled relatives before he can get to work. The permission serves as a reminder of the protective rights the community has over seventeen castes.

12. Thrice around the Fire

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Malyali weddings are rather straightforward and short. They ditch the usual seven pheras around the fire and cut it down only to three. Good enough; that leaves enough time for the bride and groom to attend the scores of relatives and celebrate their special day.

13. Releasing Fish in a Pond 

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Wedding rituals in Manipur are incomplete till a pair of taki fish is released in a pond. It is usually done by a female member from the bride’s party and one from the groom’s. If the fish swim side by side, it is considered to be auspicious for the couple. Quite a quirky way to determine luck!

14. Flower Ornaments and Cosmetics

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Bridal finery is a serious requirement in weddings and Kashmiris do not undervalue its importance. One of the premiere ceremonies of a Kashmiri wedding is when the groom’s family sends the bride a makeup box along with cosmetics or ornaments. These are required lifelong by any woman. Smart way to pamper the bride.

15. Rice Shower 

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We have heard of rice bing showered on the married couple in a wedding, but Parsis use it in very different way. The bride and the groom are given cups of rice and made to sit in front of each other with a cloth held up between them. A priest circles them seven times and when he stops, the bride and the groom are expected to throw the rice over the curtain to the other side. Whoever does it first is said to rule in the marriage!

16. Hide the Bride

Image Source: Lemuel Cantos/flickr.com

Few adivasi communities follow the practice of hiding the bride for a year after her marriage. A year after the wedding, the bond is approved by the community elders and then the bride is revealed to the public in a grand ceremony. The delayed celebration may be a good way of keeping novelty in a marriage.

17. Strip the Groom

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Sindhi weddings have a quirky practice wherein the groom’s relatives tear off his clothes. This practice is said to ward off the evil eye. We have no doubt, this is one of the most unusual ways of wishing luck to the bride and groom.

18. Ghada Gharoli 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Before a Punjabi bride gets ready for her wedding, her close relatives go to a nearby temple and get a pot full of holy water. The bride is made to bathe in this water before she can put on her wedding dress. This is said to bring prosperity to the new couple.

19. Only Exchanging Garlands

Image Source: Priyambada Nath/flickr.com

Assamese weddings can easily be the shortest ceremonies in the world. The bride and groom become husband and wife by simply exchanging garlands and applying vermilion on the bride’s forehead. Talk about keeping it short and sweet!

20. Share a Paan 

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Once the bride and groom are officially a couple, the lifelong sharing of their moments with each other begins with a paan. Betel leaf refreshes the breath and is one of the first steps of preparing the couple for their wedding night. Well, don't our customs take care of things after the wedding too?

Tell us about some of the quirky wedding rituals you have come across!