The Importance of Rice at Indian Weddings

This article shares the importance of rice at Indian weddings. In Hinduism, women are considered embodiments of the Goddess of Prosperity, Lakshmi. And rice is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Thus, throughout the Hindu and Jain ceremonies, rice is used to symbolize the creation and retention of prosperity, wealth, and happiness. 

Rice is a symbol of prosperity.

{Rice During the Ceremony}

During the ceremony, the bride and groom, or the couple will place rice into the ceremonial fire as an offering to the God, Agni who is the main divine witness to the ceremony. 

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PC: Greycard Photography

{Rice During the Vidai}

During the vidai, her loved ones stand behind her. The women hold out their dupattas (scarves) as the bride gently throws rice behind her, symbolizing that even though the Lakshmi of the home is departing, she leaves her blessings for wealth, prosperity and happiness remain with her family.

{Rice Upon Entering Home For The First Time as a Married Couple}

If you’ve ever watched a Bollywood or any movie involving a Hindu wedding, you’ve probably seen the part where the bride enters her new home for the first time as a married woman. The couple is stopped outside the doorway and the groom’s family are inside, eager to welcome the newlyweds.

The bride tips over a kalash (an urn) of rice with her foot. This is called the Graha Pravesh. With the arrival of the new bride, the hope is that she will bring prosperity with her.

Incidentally other forms of Graha Pravesh are also done when a family member returns home after a long journey or after a long time, when moving into a new home, or after new construction/renovation on a home. 

Some Jains follow these traditions (especially North Indian Jains). Others don’t follow this tradition as some view it as food wastage. 

Today, not everyone performs this ritual. It really varies from family to family. From a logistics standpoint it actually takes place the day after the wedding because after the ceremony the couple doesn’t leave their venue. 

At my wedding, after the vidai, I was welcomed by my in-laws in their room at the resort where we got married; and that was our makeshift Graha Pravesh. They didn’t have me tip over rice – personal preference. They did my tikka and fed me sweets.  

{Take Aways}

Rice is an important component of Hindu wedding ceremonies. Women are considered embodiments of the Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth – Lakshmi and therefore their arrival and departure symbolizes that wherever she is, she will spread wealth, prosperity, and happiness.

Rice is a symbol of prosperity in South Asian cultures much the same way that meat was an indicator of wealth in older Western culture. 

Rice is used throughout Hindu wedding ceremonies in the form of:

  • offerings to the ceremonial fire
  • during the Vidai
  • during the Graha Pravesh, when the bride or couple enters home for the first time as a married couple.

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