Indian understanding of Christian weddings is largely based on their depiction in Hollywood movies and some Bollywood movies as well. The pre wedding rehearsal, the bride's father walking the bride down the aisle and giving over the bride's hand to the groom, the bridesmaids and groomsmen standing along the groom and bride's side waiting for the 'I Dos' and the final "Till Death Do Us Apart', are few of the many things that come to our fancy whe we think about Christian weddings. But is this really true for Indian Christian Weddings? Who even are India Christians? How are their weddings different from the Western Weddings? These are some of the questions that may perplex us. While a lot of Indian women dream of having a Christian style wedding, full with the beautiful White gown, and the flower girl welcoming the bride, a real Indian Christian wedding is far from the depictions made in English movies. If you are someone who has always fantasized about witnessing a Christian wedding, or you think that you want know more about the inner goings of a Christian wedding, this blog is for you.
India is a country that boasts of a vast variety of cultures, languages, traditions, religions and communities. With the multiplicity of cultures, it is interesting to understand just how varied the rites and rituals of different communities are. Weddings are very important culture specific occasions for every community. No two weddings are the same even within the same community, leave alone the myriad of communities we see in India. While most often one can find many blogs on Hindu, Punjabi and Muslim wedding rituals, one of the communities that is missing from the archive of Indian wedding bloggers, is the Christian community. Though a minority in India, the community is spread across many regions of India including the states of Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Nagaland, Mizoram Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Andaman Nicobar Islands. Even within the broader religious community of Christians there are over 42 sub communities. Comprising upto 2.30% of the Indian population, the Christian community has their own set of traditions and customs, particularly when it comes to the realm of weddings. Amongst the 42 large sub groups of Christians that exist in the subcontinent of India, Syrian Christians makeup for an ethno-religious community in the state of Kerala. Among the first Indian communities to convert to Christianity, Syrian Christians comprise a combination of culture that is derived from the various traditions of East Syriac, West Syriac, Hindu, Jewish, and Latin Rite communities. The Syrian Christians are further divided into various denominations, amongst which the Syrian Catholics make up for a large number of Kerala inhabitants. The wedding rituals of the Syrian Catholic community are very distinct, and follow a combination of Indian traditional customs of the Malayalis and the customs of the Catholic church. It would be interesting to see what makes up for a traditional Syrian Catholic Wedding, and how different it really is from what we make of Christian weddings, from their depictions in Western Cinema.
Just like every other wedding, Syrian Catholic Weddings too have distinct pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding rituals and customs. Let's check out what these rituals are.