Category: Social Practices, Rituals and Festive Events
The wedding customs for the Indian community in Singapore are wide-ranging, with diverse traditions practised by the different sub-ethnic groups. Common practices include the wearing of wedding outfits in bright colours to symbolise good luck, the adorning of the wedding couple with bridal jewellery as well as the use of flowers in wedding ceremonies.
Ceremony at an Indian Hindu Wedding. Source: National Heritage Board (Romance, Hopes and Dreams Exhibition)
For Hindu weddings, one of the most significant symbols for marriage is the gold pendant, known as thali in South Indian, or mangalsutra in North India. This is usually given by the groom, and can be customised by local goldsmiths before the wedding. The bride will also wear a red pottu, a forehead decoration that is placed in the area between the eyebrows.
Tamil Hindu weddings in Singapore usually take place in a temple, where a priest will officiate the ceremony and conduct the ceremonial rites. These rites include chanting and conferring blessings unto the couple, who will be seated at the front of the hall where a ceremonial fire will set up together with lamps, flowers and fruits.
Families and friends of the couple will be invited to gather at the temple to witness the ceremony. At the mid-point of the ceremony when the bride leaves the hall for a change in outfit, flower garlands worn by the couple will be passed around to be blessed by the guests. In addition, saffron rice will also be handed out to guests.
Upon the return of the bride, the groom ties a thali (or gold pendant in Tamil) around the neck of the bride, and the couple exchanges flower garlands as a symbol of union. With the playing of celebratory music, the guests will then throw the saffron rice at the couple as a gesture of blessing.
As a final ritual, the couple walks around the ceremonial fire three times, throwing a handful of grains into the fire for each circumambulation. The ceremony usually ends with a feast for the guests, where friends and families continue to celebrate and share the joy of the wedding couple over food.
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