Traditionally Indian weddings were arranged between two families. Often the bride and groom, or the couple, had never spoken to each other, or very little. Games were incorporated throughout South Asian wedding celebrations to have fun while bringing the couple as well as their families together and get to know each other….literally. They’re like the original icebreakers!
Today, these games are still relevant. One, they’re fun and two, they still serve their purpose of bringing the families and friends of both sides, together.
As rich and ancient South Asian wedding traditions are, it’s important to note that not every sub-culture and group, plays these games nor incorporates them into their wedding. Bollywood movies have certainly popularized them and since they’re fun, a lot of people include them in their wedding weekend, even if they aren’t a part of their traditional heritage.
There are so many great things about these traditions. One, that living so far from the Motherland we’re still honoring them. Two, the venue staff are increasing their knowledge and building their packages and timelines to incorporate them.
The Ring Game
The couple is tasked with fishing out a ring from a large pot full of milk, water, and other natural ingredients. The belief is that the winner will ‘rule’ the household.
This is one most people are very familiar with. This game pits each side (bride and groom/the couple) against each other. As the groom enters the mandap, the cousins and friends on both sides, jump into ‘battle’ to grab the shoes and hide them from the other side. If the bride’s side wins they won’t give the groom his shoes back without (sweet) payment.
Stopping The Car
After the vidai, the bride’s friends and cousins stop the car by standing in front of it. They’re not allowed to proceed without more gifts. These girls are now viewed as the groom’s new sisters and what would life be without giving their new brother a bit of a hard time?
One of the important points of a Hindu or Jain wedding ceremony is the varmala. The couple adds a fun twist by making it difficult for the other person to place the garland around the other person’s neck.
Milni literally translates as “to meet”. The milni is a South Asian wedding tradition done right after the baraat arrives and the two families…meet. As we all know South Asian weddings are marriages between two families so this is a great way to honor extended family members and help the families get to know another. In a series if exchanges, the couples’ corresponding family members greet each other and exchange gifts. So the bride’s uncle and the groom’s uncle. The bride’s brother and the groom’s brother etc.Where it gets fun is how wacky some of the greetings can get. (Traditionally milni was restricted to males only. Things are changing though.)
The fun at South Asian weddings never stops!
Cover photo: Randery Imagery