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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Hindu Wedding Custom

Hindu wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted at least partially in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted. The local language of the people involved is also used since most Hindus cannot understand Sanskrit. Hindu weddings involves many rituals that differ from region to region due to traditions based on regions, families and castes. Also due to the evolution of times from the traditional wedding custom to the modern western wedding ceremony, Hindu weddings today are not all the same.

One ritual though is the same in all Hindu weddings, and that is the primary witness of a Hindu marriage, which is the fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni. By Hindu law and tradition, no Hindu marriage is deemed complete unless in the presence of the Sacred Fire, and seven encirclements have been made around it by the bride and the groom together. The wedding is normally conducted under a mandap, a canopy traditionally with four pillars, and an important component of the ceremony is the sacred fire (Agni) that is witness to the ceremony.

The main steps involved in a traditional Hindu wedding are as follows:

Engagement

The engagement, involving vagdana or oral agreement and lagna-patra written declaration, commences with the arrival of the groom's party at the bride's residence, often in the form of a formal procession.

Aarti

The 'baraatis' (groom's party) are received by the bride's family and at the entrance to the wedding venue. The bride's mother welcomes the groom by performing the 'aarti' (traditional Indian welcome ritual with a lamp or 'diya' placed on a platter or 'thali') to welcome her son-in-law and placing a tilak on his forehead.

Hathlewa

After being led to the wedding mandup, the bride and groom have their hands tied together. The Panditji does a puja to Lord Ganesh and then puts a coin & mehendi on the groom’s right hand where the round empty spot is (where no mehendi was put) and ties his hand with the brides. This puja is done schedule in advance based on an auspicious time & date.

Havan

The ritual connotes the actual core wedding ceremony, for the very meaning of the word "vivaah" is-marriage. The priest ties the end of the groom's dhoti or the kurta; whichever he is wearing, with that of the bride's saree, the knot signifying the sacred wedlock. The groom and the bride then circle the holy fire seven times, making seven promises to be fulfilled in the married life, after which they are considered to be 'married' to each other. This ritual is called "phere".

Saptapadi

The bridegroom gets up from his seat holding his bride's right hand. He then goes around the Holy Fire (Agni) from the right side, by lifting his bride's right foot at each step. This is done for seven steps. With each step, he recites a mantra addressed to the bride with the following meaning.

Let Lord Maha Vishnu follow each one of your steps for the following specific purposes.

:To give you unlimited food.
:To give you excellent health and energy.
:Todained in Vedas, during your life time.
:To give you happiness in life.
:To make your cows and good animals to grow in strength and in numbers.
:To make all the seasons be beneficial to you.
:To make the homams (sacrifices to be done in Holy Fire) to be performed by you in your life as ordained in Vedas, successful and free from hindrances.

The idea behind this is to pray to Lord Vishnu, the protector of life, for his blessings in marital life. The groom then recites a mantra to convey the following meaning:

After crossing seven steps with me thus, you should become my friend. I too have become your friend now. I will never discard this friendship and you should also not do that. Let us be together always. Let us resolve to do things in life in the same manner and tread the same path. Let us lead a life by liking and loving each other, having good hearts and thoughts, and enjoying the food and our strong points together. Let us have undivided opinions. We will perform the vrithas united. Let us have same and joint desires. I will be Sama (one of the vedas); you will be Rig (another Veda). Let me be the Heaven; you be the Earth. Let me be the Shukla (Moon) and you be its wearer. Let me be the mind and you its spokesman (Vak). With these qualities, you be my follower. You the sweet tongued, come to me to get good male children and wealth.

Kanya Daan

Kanya Daan is performed by the father of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding.

The father pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bride groom. The groom recites Vedic hymns to Kama, the god of love, for pure love and blessings.

As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride requests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends : dharma, artha, and kama. The groom makes the promise by repeating three times that he will not fail the bride in realizing dharma, artha and kama.

Vidaai


This is considered to be the most emotional ritual, when the bride leaves her parents' home and makes her way to her husband's. Family and friends, who also shower her with blessings and gifts, give her a tearful farewell. The male members of the bride's family bid farewell to the groom by applying the traditional 'tilak' (vermilion) on his forehead and shower him with gifts.

Information obtained from Wikipedia.

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Bridal Hairstyle Looks That Would Suit You Best
How to Avoid Bridal Make-up Disasters
The Wedding Make-Up Tip for Indians that is Almost Too Easy
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Muslim Wedding Custom

We thought it would be a good idea to create a section on world wedding customs. The wedding union between a husband and wife is a universal event, but we all celebrate the union in different and colorful ways. That is what makes the world an interesting place. The first in our series is the Muslim wedding. Muslims are not a monolithic group. Although the Islamic aspect of the wedding ritual is similar, the cultural aspect differs in Muslim weddings. There is diversity between the different kinds of Arab Muslims from Gulf Arabs to the North African Arabs, and diversity between the various ethnities of Indian Muslims too, not to mention the Indonesians and the Malays,and the Central Asians!

For the first part of our series in the Muslim wedding custom, we have focused on the Indian Muslim wedding. The Islamic marriage ritual is simple. The marriage itself is called the Nikah in Arabic, which involves the signing of the marriage contract between the husband and wife. This is followed by colorful and multi-day festivities to celebrate the union.

The steps to the Nikah is as follows:

At the wedding, which can take place pretty much anywhere, the bride and groom are separated in different rooms. They may or may not be able to see each other, depending on how conservative the families are.

An officiant, who can be any man familiar with Islamic law, heads to each room separately. There he asks the spouses-to-be if they consent to the marriage and if they are marrying of their own free will (a representative called a wali, usually the bride's father, answers the officiant's questions on the bride's behalf). This is equivalent of the father of the bride walking the bride down the aisle, and giving away his daughter, in Western cultures.

The couple signs the marriage contract or license, with witnesses observing.

The officiant brings the pair together and pronounces them husband and wife.

It is that simple!

An Indian Muslim Wedding Celebration

Days of eventful and lively parties often surround the days before and after the nikah. The typical Indian Muslim wedding, features the following events. The more conservative families avoid the excessive singing and dancing, or if doing so, does it in segregated fashion.

Dholki: The wedding celebrations begin with the dholki (named after the dholk, or drum) one to two weeks before the actual three-day wedding ceremony. During this event, young guests sing and dance while beating on the dholk.

The bride and groom traditionally hold their separate dholki. Friends and family gather at their respective houses to practice songs and dances for the upcoming mehendi ceremony during the week of the wedding. The women closest to either the bride or groom usually choreograph the dances, and it's mostly women who perform. The couple's families prepare dinner for the revelers, and the party goes late.

Mehendi: The mehendi (henna) ceremony takes place on the first night of the three-day wedding. Usually the most festive part of the event, it's filled with noise and color, with women dressed in bright formal shalwar kameez outfits and saris, and with unmarried girls sporting long skirts and blouse outfits called lehengas. The bride traditionally wears a formal yellow outfit, and, as the name of the ceremony implies, has wet mehendi (henna paint) applied on her hands that day. The bride, along with all the women on both sides of the family, has henna designs put on her hands and sometimes her feet. This is equivalent of a bridal shower, but a lot more colorful.

It's customary for the bride to be escorted onto the stage under a yellow color dupata, or large scarf, held up by six female relatives or friends. Her head is covered and bowed, and she doesn't have much makeup or jewelry on at this event. In joint mehendi ceremonies the groom arrives at the ceremony after the bride with his entourage of guests, called the baraat. The baraat typically plays loud songs while entering the ceremony hall and is greeted by two parallel lines of the bride's family and friends.

Nikah: The main wedding day is less eventful than the preceding days. The bride typically wears a bright-red ghaagra, a heavily pleated skirt with a long blouse embroidered in gold. The dupata is hung low over her bowed head and wrapped around her shoulders in such a way that her heavy gold jewelry is not hidden. This outfit is the most elaborate of all the ones the bride will wear. With all the gold the bride wears on her wedding day, she looks and feels like a queen.

Grooms either wear a traditional sherwani with a turban or a Western-style suit. Some grooms wear a veil of roses on their head before the bride enters. As a game, sometimes the bride's young female relatives and friends will steal the groom's shoes, returning them only when the groom pays a bargained amount of money. At the end of the night, a procession escorts the couple to the wedding car and throws flower petals on the couple.

Valima: The groom's family hosts the valima, or the feast, the night after the wedding. The feast signifies the consummation of the wedding, and is roughly equivalent to an American wedding reception.

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Adapt the Latest Bridal Dress Fashions To Your Figure Type
Bridal Hairstyle Looks That Would Suit You Best
How to Avoid Bridal Make-up Disasters
The Wedding Make-Up Tip for Indians that is Almost Too Easy
For Radiant Skin, These Facial Methods Work Like Crazy
The Biggest Mistake Brides Make (and How to Avoid It)
The Best Way I Know to Get a Honeymoon Trip, Even When Your Budget Doesn't Allow It.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wedding Weight Loss Tips

There are two main worries a bride-to-be feels in regards to her weight – (1) she would not feel good about her body on the big day and (2) that she would forever be remembered in people’s memories as being the fat bride.

Is there anything more devastating than the idea of being fat on your wedding day?

Every bride wants to look amazing in her wedding dress. So if you have the time (that is, your wedding date is not in a month or less), it would be wise to embark on an exercise and diet plan, as you plan the other important details of your wedding.

If you need to lose weight, fitness and health experts have suggested that the best way to lose inches is to eat more healthfully, and to do cardio workouts such as walking, running, cardio machines and aerobics classes. Simple toning exercises like those that target the abs and back may help you to firm up, but they will not slim you down because this type of exercise does not reduce fat.

The rule of thumb is that losing 10 pounds equals one dress size, but that is not foolproof because women lose weight in different places. Some women find that losing only 5 pounds can make their clothes looser.

Do not go on a crash diet just to reduce calorie intake because you may end up losing weight and looking skinnier on your wedding day, but you may also look unhealthy and feel weak and fatigued as a result. One to two pounds of weight loss a week is the healthiest goal, but it requires a concerted effort to eat smaller portions and cut out the junk, as well as doing regular exercise on most days of the week.

Taking power walks during your lunch hour, or after your work will help you. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or park your car at a further distance, and then walk to your work, or mall. All of these little steps help. Also, you should gradually build up to at least 60 minutes of cardio per day. If you afford it, a certified personal trainer can help you stick to a plan - get a trainer that specialize in getting brides in shape for the big day.

As for a food plan, some people recommend cutting out carbs to reduce bloating and drop weight fast. However, bad breath can accompany a low-carb diet (and who wants halitosis on on her wedding day — or wedding night!). Also, low-carb diets can cause extraordinary fatigue. And you need your energy in order to survive (and enjoy) your eventful wedding day. The happiest day of your life is also a grueling, intense, marathon of a day — and one done when you are all dressed up, bejewelled and in high heels.

The most sensible way is to follow a healthful diet that consists of small, regular meals. It would also be a good idea to knock out all the unnecessary calories found in sweetened drinks like Coke, or Pepsi, and alcohol.

For in-depth pre-wedding weight loss tips and plans, please click here.

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The Real Secret to Choosing Colors for Your Wedding Dress
Adapt the Latest Bridal Dress Fashions To Your Figure Type
Bridal Hairstyle Looks That Would Suit You Best
How to Avoid Bridal Make-up Disasters
The Wedding Make-Up Tip for Indians that is Almost Too Easy
For Radiant Skin, These Facial Methods Work Like Crazy
The Biggest Mistake Brides Make (and How to Avoid It)
The Best Way I Know to Get a Honeymoon Trip, Even When Your Budget Doesn't Allow It.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Is He the Right One?

So you think you've found your perfect match, and you are all excited because he has just proposed to you. He is good looking, highly educated and treats you great. You just know that you'll have a great life with him. Everything is perfect. Now you can plan your wedding and live happily ever after. But hold on to your horses! Before you embark on planning your dream wedding, keep in mind that that the wedding is just the beginning of a very long journey.

A sobering reality check is that 50% of all marriages in the US ends up in divorce. And the rate of divorce is higher if you marry at a younger age! But does that mean you should wait till you are older (hmm, unthinkable in desi cultures when an unmarried 25 year old is already 'over the hill'!). No, you just need to enter this with a rational mind. Be sure that the person you have picked, or accepted, is suitable for you. It is not the superficial qualities that will sustain you throughout your marriage.

Last year, one of our friends got married to a really fantastic guy through an arranged marriage set-up - we are happy to say that they are five months into the marriage, and as she reports to us, "well-suited to each other". Initially, she was highly reluctant to go through the arranged marriage route, since she was afraid that she would end up marrying someone she did not know, and could not love.

But it worked out for her because she (with her girlfriends' help) devised a series of questions intended to bring up pertinent issues that would arise through the course of a marriage. It is necessary for all couples - be it those in arranged set-ups, or even those who have been dating long-term - to discuss these issues before going through with a marriage.

Here are some questions that we have come up after our readings, which you can use to discuss with your intended spouse. The questions are in 8 main categories - family, personality, division of roles, finance, children, religion, sex, conflict resolution. It may save you some trouble down the road.

Family

What was your childhood like?
Is your family affectionate/close?
Are we likely to have problems with your family?
What values do you want to bring from your family into our marriage?
What do you like/dislike about your (and my) family?
What do you like/dislike about your (and my) parents' marriage?

Personality

How would you describe yourself?
How do you view me?
Are you a jealous person?
Do you have trust issues/or feel insecure?
Do you think we listen to one another well?
Are you able to empathize with my feelings?

Division of Roles

How are we going to divide up the household chores?
What are your expectations about how we will spend our free time?
How do you want to spend our days off?
Do you believe that we should be doing everything together?
Can we each pursue our own interests?
Do you need time alone?
How would you feel if I want a night out with my friends now and then?
How will we make sure we have quality time together?
How much time will we spend with our in-laws?

Finance

Are you a saver or spender?
Do you have a budget?
Should we have a joint checking account or separate accounts or both?
Who is going to be responsible for making sure that bills are paid on time?
Do you consider going to the movies and having a vacation every year a necessity or a luxury?
How much do we owe in debts and what are our assets?
What are our future financial goals - buying house, investments etc?

Children

Do you want to have children?
How many children do you want to have?
How long should we be married before having children?
What kind of parent do you think you will be?
Do you have a parenting philosophy?
Do you expect me to stay home after we have children?
What if one of us cannot have children?

Religion

Does religion play an important part in your life?
Are we similar in religious values and morals?

Sex


Are you comfortable discussing your sexual likes and dislikes?
What are your expectations of our sexual relationship?

Conflict Resolution

Will we make important decisions together? How?
Are we both willing to face difficult areas head-on or do we try to avoid conflict?
Do you think we have problems in our relationship that we need to deal with before our wedding?
Do we handle conflict well?
How are we different?
Do you think our differences will create problems in our marriage?
Do you expect or want me to change?
Can we both forgive?
Are we both willing to work on our communication skills and to share intimately with each other?

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The Real Secret to Choosing Colors for Your Wedding Dress
Adapt the Latest Bridal Dress Fashions To Your Figure Type
Bridal Hairstyle Looks That Would Suit You Best
How to Avoid Bridal Make-up Disasters
The Wedding Make-Up Tip for Indians that is Almost Too Easy
For Radiant Skin, These Facial Methods Work Like Crazy
The Biggest Mistake Brides Make (and How to Avoid It)
The Best Way I Know to Get a Honeymoon Trip, Even When Your Budget Doesn't Allow It.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Common Pre-Wedding Mistakes To Avoid

On your wedding day, you supposed to be Queen! You do not want to be harrassed, perturbed, or be anxious about anything going wrong on your wedding day. Your main aim is to relax, enjoy being Queen for the day with your King (the groom) and create happy memories.

So the less stress you feel on your wedding day, the more memorable it'll be. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the following possible pre-wedding mistakes that brides make when planning their big day.

Avoid these potential problems that could arise from lack of foresight, and which could threaten to ruin your happy day!



Common Mistakes

1. Budget not prioritized in order of most important to least important items. The banquet is over, and now the party begins. If the majority of your reception time will be spent listening to music and dancing, it makes sense to allocate a proportionate amount of your budget to the vendor responsible for your entertainment. Whether it is a band or a DJ, the key idea here is quality.

2. Lack of communication with your vendors. Have a thorough conversation with all of your vendors, and let them know exactly what you expect. Do not assume that because they are professionals with years of experience, they automatically know what you want. Each bride's vision is different. Vendors want to avoid disappointing you, so share the details of your dream with them from the beginning.

3. Lack of communication with bridal party on your needs and expectations. Let each person in your bridal party know, prior to your wedding day, where they are supposed to be and when. Important moments at your reception can't be rehearsed, so prepare a timetable for your bridal party that includes the grand entrance, speeches and toasts, bridal dances and any planned photo opportunities. If possible appoint someone in your bridal party to help oversee that things get done accordingly.

4. Waiting until the last minute. Finish everything on your checklist at least two days before your wedding. You do not want to be scribbling place cards at 2 a.m. on your wedding day. Give yourself and your groom a task-free day or two before the wedding to relax and rejuvenate.

5. Having too much to drink early in the day or the night before. Not only is it a good idea to avoid alcohol until the final party hours, it's best to stay hydrated by drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages. If you can't resist a good nip, be sure to eat something.

6. Spending too much time taking pictures. There are the photographs of special moments you must have, pictures of spontaneous moments that are fun to have, and staged photos that become a nuisance. Don't be afraid to say NO to your photographer when you've had enough. If possible, have your staged photos finished prior to the wedding day to minimize photo-taking on the day itself. You can have candid, relaxed shots of the day itself, which are great in itself.

7. Losing your perspective. Keep your mind on what the day is about, and on the things and people that are really important to you. Don't get bogged down in so many details that you forget to have FUN! If something goes wrong, try your best to take deep breaths and think about the big picture. Don't let the little things that might go wrong ruin your night. Keep your sense of humor.

8. Getting stressed or overwhelmed. Eat! Talk! Dance! Have Fun! Keep things simple. After you'veve greeted your guests, let them find you if they wish to visit.

9. Not planning an exit strategy. Assign end-of-the-night tasks to others you trust, so you can leave unburdened. Final duties might include gathering gifts and transporting them home, paying for the wedding hall, and removing decorations -- including flowers, centerpieces and other wedding notions.

10. Immediately leaving on your honeymoon. Try not to plan a 6 a.m. departure the day after your wedding. Give yourselves a day or two to recuperate and get your things together. There is no big hurry!

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Something Every Bride-to-Be Needs to Know
How To Survive (and Enjoy) Your Wedding Day
The Real Secret to Choosing Colors for Your Wedding Dress
Adapt the Latest Bridal Dress Fashions To Your Figure Type
Bridal Hairstyle Looks That Would Suit You Best
How to Avoid Bridal Make-up Disasters
The Wedding Make-Up Tip for Indians that is Almost Too Easy
For Radiant Skin, These Facial Methods Work Like Crazy
The Biggest Mistake Brides Make (and How to Avoid It)
The Best Way I Know to Get a Honeymoon Trip, Even When Your Budget Doesn't Allow It.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Planning Six Months to a Year Before Wedding Date

Weddings can be difficult to plan, but it is not an impossible job if you organize your to-do list well in advance. Here are some possible tasks (not listed in order of importance) to think about approximately six months to a year before your intended wedding date!


* Select your date and time for ceremony and reception.
* Estimate your budget.
* Reserve locations for your ceremony and reception
* Select the officiate.
* Decide on size and type of wedding.
* Decide on guest list - start by gathering names and addresses.
* Choose a professional photographer, florist, baker, videographer, caterer, DJ or band, wedding consultant (if you choose to use one).
* Announce your engagement.
* Plan honeymoon.
* Select rehearsal dinner location.
* Select and order wedding gown and accessories.
* Select attendants, flower girl, maid/matron of honor, groomsmen, ushers and best man.
* Select bridesmaids' dresses and groom's and groomsmen's attire.
* Look for invitations, accessories, wedding favors.
* Schedule salon appointments (hair, manicure, pedicure, etc.)
* Book transportation.
* Reserve block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
* Order wedding bands.

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Something Every Bride-to-Be Needs to Know
How To Survive (and Enjoy) Your Wedding Day
The Real Secret to Choosing Colors for Your Wedding Dress
Adapt the Latest Bridal Dress Fashions To Your Figure Type
Bridal Hairstyle Looks That Would Suit You Best
How to Avoid Bridal Make-up Disasters
The Wedding Make-Up Tip for Indians that is Almost Too Easy
For Radiant Skin, These Facial Methods Work Like Crazy
The Biggest Mistake Brides Make (and How to Avoid It)
The Best Way I Know to Get a Honeymoon Trip, Even When Your Budget Doesn't Allow It.

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