A-Z of terms used in South Asian wedding ceremonies

Some of the most common terms you’ll come across…

Aartia Hindu ritual in which incense and lamps are lighted as an offering to the deities
Aashirwadblessing the newly wed couple
Acharyaa Hindu priest
Aeki‐Bekia Gujurati game played by the newly wed couple in which a ring is placed in a tray filled with milk and vermilion, in order to determine who will be the dominant partner in the marriage
Agarbattiincense sticks used in religious ceremonies
Agwaaniwelcoming the groom’s procession
Akand Paatha 3 day Sikh ritual in which the entire holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is read cover to cover, without a break
Ardaasa Sikh prayer
Bahu Bhaata Bengali post‐wedding ritual of the bride’s formal acceptance by her in‐laws
Baraatthe groom’s wedding procession, usually includes family and friends dancing towards the ceremony venue with the groom on a horse
Barfeean Indian sweet
Bhagwana term for God in the Hindu religion
Bhabisister‐in‐law; brother’s wife
Bhangrapopular genre of music from the Punjab often played at Indian weddings
Bidaaibride’s formal farewell to her parental home
Bindia dot worn at the centre of a Hindu woman’s forehead, traditionally signifying her married status
Boliyaantraditional Punjabi folk songs
Cholia close‐fitted short top worn with a lehenga or sari
Choorabridal bangles put on the bride’s arms by her maternal uncle and worn for a specific amount of time after the wedding to signify her newly‐wed status (also, Chura, Chuda)
Chunnia Punjabi word for the long scarf traditionally worn with Indian garments (also, Dupatta, Chunri, Odhini)
Dandiacolourful sticks used in the Gujurati folk dance (also, Daandia)
Datara Sindhi post‐wedding salt ceremony, where a handful of salt is passed three times between the bride and the groom, and then between the bride and members of the groom’s family
Dhollarge drum used in Punjabi weddings
Dholkismall drum used when singing traditional folk songs, usually at the Sangeet
Dhotian uncut piece of cloth tied around the waist, worn by men
Dhruvnakshatraa ceremonial viewing of the pole star by the bride and groom
Dolithe ceremony after the wedding when the bride leaves her parents’ home and goes to her husband’s home
Dulhathe groom
Dulhanthe bride
Dupattaa long scarf or shawl traditionally worn with Indian garments (also, Chunni, Chunri, Odhini)
Garbaa traditional Gujurati folk dance; a pre‐wedding evening of dance organised by the bride’s family
Ghar Nu Laxmia Gujurati ceremony welcoming the newly wed bride to the groom’s home by the mother‐in‐law
Ghodithe decorated mare on which the groom arrives to the wedding
Ghodi Sajaiceremony of beautifying/decorating the groom’s mare
Gotaa ribbon used as embroidery that is made of gold or silver thread
Gota ceremonya traditional Kashmiri Hindu ceremony of mixing thin flakes of pistachios, almonds and betel nuts
Grahapravesamthe first time the newly‐wed couple enters their house
Granthia Sikh priest
Griha Shantia Hindu ritual conducted by a pundit, seeking a blessing from the stars
Gurudwarathe Sikh temple or place of worship
Guru Granth Sahibthe holy scripture of the Sikhs (also, Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
Haara necklace
Hasta Milapa Hindu wedding ceremony where the groom’s scarf is tied to the bride’s sari, symbolising the union of their two souls (also, Hasta Milaap)
Havanlighting the sacred fire before a Hindu prayer or wedding ritual
Hathevaropart of the Parsi ceremony with hand fastening between the groom and the bride
Hennaa coloured paste made from the green leaves of a henna plant used to decorate the hands and feet of the bride (also, Mehndi, Mehendi)
Hriday Sparshthe wedding vows taken by a Hindu couple
Isaivu Pidimanamthe signing of the marriage agreement in a Tamil wedding
Jaimalaa Hindu wedding ceremony where the bride and groom exchange garlands
JanampatriIndian natal horoscope
Kaichi Utrrudalthe traditional Tamil wedding feast
Kanyadaana Hindu ritual in which the bride is given away by her parents, by placing her hand over the groom’s
Karah Prashadceremonial sacramental sweet distributed to visitors at a Sikh temple
Kirtanthe singing of Sikh hymns, or shabads
Koranthe holy scripture of Islam (also, Quran)
Kucci misria Sindhi ceremony where the marriage alliance is formally approved
Laavanthe four hymns that are recited during the Anand Karaj ceremony, in which the bride and groom circle the Guru Granth Sahib (also Lavan, Laava, Lavaan)
Laganthe Hindu wedding ceremony
Langarthe communal meal served at a Sikh Gurudwara: in a wedding it follows after the Anand Karaj ceremony
Lehengaa two piece ensemble worn by women. The top can be either short or long, while the bottom is a flowing skirt (also, Lehnga, Lahenga, Lengha)
Maangtikaa piece of jewellery consisting of a pendant and a length of chain that is attached to the middle parting of the bride’s hair, and falls over the centre of her forehead (also, Tika, Tikka, Teeka)
Madhuparkaa Hindu ceremony where the groom’s feet are washed and he is offered honey and milk
Mandapa decorated four‐pillared canopy under which the bride and groom have their Hindu wedding ceremony
Mandav saroa Parsi pre‐wedding ceremony where a mango sapling is planted in a pot
Mangalsutrathe necklace put on the bride by the groom during the Hindu wedding ceremony, consisting of black beads to ward off evil
Mangnia muslim engagement ceremony where the couple exchange rings, the bride wears an outfit gifted to her by her future in‐laws
Masjidthe Muslim place of worship
Mehera muslim ceremony for deciding the amount of gifts that are given to the bride by the groom’s family
Mehndia coloured paste made from the green leaves of a henna plant, used to make intricate designs on the hands and feet of the bride (also, Mehendi)
Milnia ceremony before the wedding where the men of both the bride’s and groom’s families meet to exchange hugs and garlands of flowers
MithaiIndian sweets (Also, Mitthai)
Mookh Dikhaia post wedding ceremony introducing the bride to her husband’s relatives
Nadaswarama popular South Indian classical music instrument played during South Indian weddings (also, Nadhaswaram, Nagaswaram)
Natha nose ring (also, Naath, Naathi)
Nichayadarthamthe Tamil ring ceremony
Nikaahthe Muslim wedding ceremony (also, Nikah)
Nikaahnamaregistering the wedding contract which contains a set of terms and conditions that must be respected by both the parties
Pallathe groom’s scarf which is placed in the bride’s hand by her father during the Sikh wedding ceremony
Pandita Hindu priest (also, Pundit)
Parikramagoing around the sacred fire, havan kund
Phulkaria traditional form of embroidery from the Punjab area
Pithia ceremony where the bride and groom are covered in a yellow powder that is made into paste
Pucci misrithe pre‐wedding Sindhi ring ceremony
Pujaa Hindu prayer (also, Pooja)
RagiSikh men or women who sing religious hymns, or shabads (also, Raagi)
Raasa traditional Hindu dance in pairs and short sticks, called Dandia, which involves hitting the partner’s sticks while following the rhythm of the music
Rokaa Punjabi pre‐wedding ceremony, formal approval of the alliance
Rukhsata muslim ceremony in which the bride formally leaves her parental home
Rumaala handkerchief; covering for the men’s head at a Sikh gurudwara (also, Rumal)
Rupia Peravnua pre‐wedding Parsi ceremony, a formal approval of the alliance
Saubhagyavati Bhavaa Hindu tradition where seven married women from the bride’s side will pass by the couple and whisper blessings into the bride’s right ear
Sagaaithe Indian engagement ceremony (also, Sagai)
Sagaria pre‐wedding Sindhi ritual where the groom’s sisters and relatives visit the bride bearing flowers and gifts
Salwar Kameeza traditional Indian outfit worn by North Indian women that is comprised of a knee‐length shirt over gathered trousers and a long scarf
Sangeeta pre‐wedding custom involving women gathering together to sing traditional folk songs and verses
Sanskritthe traditional language in which the Hindu wedding ceremony is conducted
Sarbalaa young boy who accompanies the groom during the Baraat at a Sikh wedding
Saptapadithe seven steps and vows taken by the bride and groom around the sacred fire in a Hindu ceremony
Saria long piece of material that is uncut and unsewn, worn by Indian women (also, Saree)
Satavaropost‐wedding celebrations in the Sindhi community
Sehra bandhithe ceremonial tying of the traditional headdress on the groom
Shaadithe Indian wedding ceremony (also, Shadi)
Shabada hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib
Shehnaian Indian musical instrument, associated with weddings (also, Shehnaai)
Shilarohanpart of the Hindu wedding ceremony where the rock is used as a symbol of permanence
Shubh Drishtithe Bengali bride and groom exchange garlands
Sindoora sacred red powder that a groom places at the middle parting in his Bride’s hair during the Hindu wedding ceremony
Suitthe common Punjabi word for a Salwar Kameez
Thijab‐e‐qubulthe formal proposal and acceptance of the alliance between a muslim couple
Tikkaa piece of jewellery consisting of a pendant and a length of chain that is attached to the middle parting of the bride’s hair, and falls over the centre of her forehead (also, Tika, Teeka, Maangtika)
Ubtana pre‐wedding custom in which the female relatives of a muslim bride anoint her with turmeric paste to bring out the glow in her complexion
Varmalaa Hindu ceremony where a cord is tied around the couple’s necks to protect them from evil
Vidaaithe departure of the newly married couple (also, Bidaai, Ruksat, Doli)
VivahaHindu wedding ceremony (also, Vivaah)
WalimaThe reception held after the Muslim wedding (also, Valima)


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