How You Can Improve Indian Wedding Site Visits: A Guide for Catering Sales Executives

This is a guide for Catering Sales Executives and how you can use your cultural knowledge for better site visits for Indian weddings. The purpose of this guide is to share common Indian last names, what information they communicate and how you can use that info to sell more Indian weddings.

Indian weddings vary by religion and regional tradition. This guide will help you decipher your clients so that you can impress them with your cultural and regional knowledge on site visits, in your emails and proposals.
Note: There are thousands of Indian and South Asian names, so it’s impossible for us to cover all of them. But these are the ones you’ve probably already encountered or will in the future.
This is only beneficial to you, if you know what to do with the information. Here’s a cheat sheet designed specifically for Catering Executives at venues, that describes setup and other details for Indian weddings.

{Common North Indian Last Names}

North Indian: North Indians speak Hindi and practice Hinduism, except Jains as indicated below.
Aggarwal (and all the variations of how it’s spelled)
Gupta
Jain – practice Jainism
Goel
Mehta’s (Some are North Indian, but the majority in the USA are Gujarati. They may practice Hinduism, Sikhism or Jainism. The only way to know is to ask.)

{Common  Punjabi Last Names}

Punjabi’s are also North Indian but they also have their own culture. Punjabi people speak Punjabi and may also speak Hindi. Some Punjabis practice Hinduism, some Jainism, and some Sikhism. Punjabi Jains have Jain as their last name, so that’s a useful identifier. Below, we’ve detailed the most common Punjabi last names and the religion associated with them (note there may be exceptions).

Singh (the mean wear turbans and follow the Sikh religion)
Ahluwalia – Sikhism
Tandon – Hindu
Deol – Sikhism or Hinduism
Lal – Hinduism
Malholtra – Hinduism
Chopra – Hinduism
Kapoor – Hinduism
Jain – Jainism
Jindal – Hindu or Sikh
Mehta – Hindu or Sikh
FYI: if you’ve ever seen the word “Kaur” you know automatically that is a Punjabi female who practices the Sikh religion.

{Common Gujarati Last Names}

Gujarati: Gujarati people speak Gujarati and practice Hinduism or Jainism
Shah – Jainism or Hinduism
Patel – Hinduism
Doshi – Jainism or Hinduism
Gandhi – Hinduism
Mehta – Jainism or Hinduism
Parekh – Jainism or Hinduism
Modi – Jainism or Hinduism
Desai – Hinduism
Sheth – Jainism or Hinduism

{Common South Indian Last Names}

South Indian: Hindu or Christian. The Christian last names are usually a bit easier to identify as they’re usually names you see in Western culture i.e. John, Joseph, Abraham. There are Muslim South Indians as well. Most have Muslim last names which we’ve separated below.

ProTip: Most of the time, when you see a pretty long last name, it’s a safe bet to assume they’re South Indian and Hindu.

Divela
Myer
Reddy
Subramaniam
Venkatesh
Venugopalan

{Common South Asian Muslim Last Names}

Muslim: (Pakistani or Indian): Many Muslims speak Urdu, Punjabi, and some South Indian languages. 
Khan
Sheikh/Shaikh
Siddiqui
Ansari
Amin
Lehri
Masood
Minhaj
Mirza
Noamani
Imtiaz

{So, How Does a Catering Executive Use This Info and What Does It Imply?

The point of sharing this info with you is so that when you get a new client and you’re sending them info or doing a site visit you can walk them through the space and share info that’s meaningful to them. For example, if a Sikh person contacts you for their wedding, one of the questions you’d ask is, “are you looking for a venue for the ceremony and reception, or only the reception?” because they may be hosting their wedding ceremony in a Sikh temple, called a Gurdwara.

Or if it’s a Muslim wedding, you can consider ways to meet the Food and Beverage minimum since they’re not going to be serving alcohol.

If it’s a Jain or a Hindu wedding, you’ll know that they need the ceremony flame, so you can talk to them about how that works and any safety measures such as a fire watch.

Jain weddings – by religion, Jains are vegetarian. That’s good cultural knowledge for you to have. Their wedding setup will be the same as Hindus – ceremony set up theater style with the open flame. They’ll need the ceremony flame. And a banquet with rounds and maybe Kings tables, outside catering. They may or may not serve alcohol.

All Jain weddings will have a baraat.

Some people will opt to host lunch after the wedding ceremony. Regardless the lunch will be a vegetarian outside catered meal and there will be no alcohol served, as the ceremony is considered a religious occasion.


Hindu weddings – Their wedding setup will be the same as Jains – ceremony set up theater style with an open flame. They’ll need the ceremony flame. And a banquet with rounds and maybe Kings tables, outside catering. They may or may not serve alcohol – but most do.

All Hindu weddings will have a baraat.

Some will opt to host lunch after the wedding ceremony. Regardless the lunch will be a vegetarian outside catered meal and there will be no alcohol served, as the ceremony is considered a religious occasion.


Sikh weddings – Sikh weddings ceremonies are unique in terms of setup at the venue. At Sikh weddings, everyone sits on the floor while only the officiants, musicians and most importantly the Holy Book – the Guru Granth Sahib are elevated on a stage. For an indoor wedding that means no chairs to set up except maybe a handful for the elderly or disabled. Alternatively it may mean laying down padding and sheets to make seating comfortable. There is no ceremony flame and the ceremony is usually 1-1.5 hours.

Another thing you’ll notice is everyone’s head is covered – both mean and women. This is required for all Sikh wedding ceremonies.

And lastly, unlike Hindu, Jain, and Muslim weddings, no one is allowed to wear their shoes. So in terms of set up, they’ll want a designated area to place or organize the shoes on racks.

All Jain weddings will have a baraat.

When you’re on a site visit, imagine the impact on the client if you already knew that info. They would instantly get that, “this catering manager understands me” feeling which is we have seen repeatedly, is a major factor when couples choose their wedding venue.

Outdoor-Sikh-wedding-ceremony-at-resort-venue
Plywood flooring for guests to be seated comfortably, setup at the venue for an outdoor Sikh wedding. According to tradition, Sikh weddings are help in the Sikh temple, called a Gurdwara (pronounced: Goor-d-waa-raa). However, some couples choose to host the Sikh ceremony at a wedding venue. Photo: Greycard Photography
seating at the Anabd Karaj Sikh Indian Punjabi wedding ceremony on the beach in Phuket Thailand
You can see the wedding officiant for this Sikh wedding, called an Anand Karaj, sitting on a stage.

Muslim Weddings – Muslim weddings are called a ‘nikah’ pronounced (nikk-aa). The ceremonies are relatively short (compared to Hindu, Sikh, and Jain weddings) – usually around 30-45 minutes and there is no ceremony flame. Some Muslim couples will have a baraat. Some may not.

The main distinguishing factor that impacts the venue, is that at Muslim weddings alcohol is not served.


This article is part of ShaadiShop’s series

Catering-Managers-Crush-Indian-Wedding-regular-big


I hope this article has been helpful to you. If it has, please let me know in the comments; and you might like to follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest – whatever your preferred media is, as we frequently publish articles to help make  planning an Indian wedding just a little bit easier.

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Samta Varia Founder & CEO ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues

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