Engagement ceremony is one of the important pre-wedding rituals in India. In this ceremony, the would-be-bride and the bridegroom-to-be come together formally with their families and accept each other as future husband and wife and announce the same for the society. In the Hindu tradition, the ‘Vagdanam’ dates back to the Vedic era. In the olden days, the ritual involved of the groom’s family giving their words to the bride’s family that they accept their daughter and they would be responsible for her well-being in the future.
In the olden days, this ritual was basically an exchange of pledges between the two families and was also a chance to get to know each other’s customs and society. I have heard people saying that these days the aesthetics of the engagement ceremony has reduced to just the announcement of the impending wedding. Well, if we dwell in our history we would see that, this ritual involved elaborate announcement of the impending wedding in case of the Royals. But something that interests me of that era is that in Rajput tradition, this engagement usually took place soon after the girl child was born just to ward off other suitors.
Engagement ceremony is uniform all over India just the custom might vary from region to region. Here are how engagement ceremonies are done in some of the regions in India.
We are all aware that Muslims follow the marriage customs as it is demarcated in the Holy Quran. Muslims are also known to consider marriages to be an act of worship thus they follow the rituals with utmost devotion. Among the Muslims, the engagement ceremony is known as Mangni and it usually takes place a day before the wedding after the Istikara and Imam-Zamin rituals have taken place. Like in other cultures across India, in the Mangini ceremony, the groom’s family visits the bride’s place with gifts that consists of clothes, sweets, and fruits. The outfit that the bride would wear for the occasion is also given by the groom’s family along with jewelry that she would don. The couple then exchanges rings and promise each other their intention to unify their union during the Nikaah that is the marriage ceremony. These days as people are opting the digital platform to find their partners thus, there are sites like Muslim matrimonial sites that you can opt to find a soulmate of your religion.
If I trend to compare Christian wedding to any of the wedding across India considering the duration and the ostentatiousness then I would say that Christian weddings are unlike any wedding ceremonies in India. Christian marriages are usually one-day affair with the wedding ceremony and the reception happening on the same day back to back. Well, by looking into Christian traditions, I have seen that the engagement ceremony is the only pre-wedding ritual that takes place. Even among the Christians the engagement function is hosted by the bride’s family and the guests include their close friends and family. The bride-to-be and the groom-to-be exchange rings in the ceremony which is generally followed by a party after the ceremony is over. The event of their engagement is usually announced in the local churches. But one thing that I find common with other religions is that the engagement among the Christians is also a formal announcement of a couple’s intention to get married to each other on a pre set date.
Hindus can be bifurcated into many more parts like the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Kayasths, Khatris etc. Well, if you ask me there are also guptas, yadavs, rajputs and many more based on regions. But one thing that is common among all of them that the rituals are very much similar. In the Engagement ritual which is also known as mangni, sagai, Ashirwad etc. the groom’s family visits the bride’s place with gifts known as the shagun and the to-be-bride and groom exchange rings in a promise that they would unify their bond in holy matrimony on a set date. This ritual also acts like a formal announcement of the nuptial to the society. This ceremony is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show among some people while the others choose to keep it simple and within the family. Now again if I have to talk about finding a perfect match you can do so very easily these days with the help of community sites like the Gupta matrimonial sites.
Any wedding ritual of the Punjabis is a big and colourful affair. I always found Punjabi or Sikh weddings to be a blast of fun and colour. The engagement ceremony among the Punjabis and the Sikhs are known as Kurmai or Shagan. This ritual takes place either several days before the wedding date or just a day before the wedding. This ceremony unlike other Hindu engagement ceremony either takes place at the groom’s house or at the Gurudwara. It is the bride’s family who visits the groom’s family with gifts consisting of clothes, sweets and dry fruits. Among the Sikhs, the bride’s father gives the to-be-groom a Kada, gold ring, as well as gold coins. This seals the engagement and then it is all about the feast.
These are some of the engagement rituals of different religions in India but apart from all the traditions that they follow the bottom line is that it is the union of two souls and an announcement of the wedding that would take place on the set date.