Hindu weddings are vibrant with colour. The dominant theme of a Hindu wedding is a warm, fiery palette of reds, golds, bronze and burnt orange. Other colours, each with its own symbolic significance, provide contrast. Traditionally, a Hindu bride wears red, ornamented with metallic gold. Gold, red and black jewellery adorn her. These strong colours make a dramatic contrast against the groom's white clothing.
White and Green
Although Hindu brides do not wear white, the groom usually does. Against this he wears a bright red scarf. Bridesmaids also commonly dress in white. Traditional decorations include the white and green of fragrant jasmine plants. Some of the bride's jewellery may be edged in rich, dark green or include white pearls. Rice may be poured into the joined hands of the bride and groom. The white rice signifies prosperity and good health.
The bride's sari and headdress are red. Many of the bangles on her wrists are also red. The groom wears a scarlet scarf and crimson turban. The "mandap" or wedding canopy under which they marry is red. This colour symbolises happiness and prosperity. In modern Hindu weddings, the bride's "bindhi" --- the circular ornamental mark in the middle of the forehead --- may be red or black. It can be elaborate, often featuring gold ornamentation. Additional ornaments of red and gold may decorate the whole forehead. During the wedding, the groom anoints the bride's forehead with a red paste called "sindoor."
Gold, Saffron and Black
The bride's elaborate jewellery is gold; her red gown heavily embroidered with gold decoration. Her head-covering is edged or fringed in gold. Occasionally a groom's clothing is gold rather than white. Bridesmaids might be in saffron or gold. During the ceremony a Hindu groom presents a necklace, or "mangalsutra," to his bride. This represents love and devotion; she will wear it throughout her marriage. Traditionally the basis of the mangalsutra is a yellow thread, dyed with turmeric. On to this are strung gold and black beads and a pendant of gold. The exact form varies regionally. The black beads are thought to ward off evil. Choosing a black bindhi also protects against evil. During the wedding, a fire is lit beneath the mandap. The bride and groom circle this fire while making their vows. This fire makes another splash of gold.
Henna or Mehndi
A Hindu bride's hands are decorated with Henna tattoos, or "mehndi." The Mehndi ceremony occurs before the wedding as part of the bridal preparations. Designs can be intricate. Henna is a deep red-brown, a colour symbolising prosperity. Mehndi patterns may also be black or red.
Traditionally, the mandap canopy is decorated with fresh flowers. The couple is also showered with flower petals. Flowers for these purposes can be multicoloured, though reds, golden yellows and orange dominate. In addition to fragrant jasmine, marigolds are a traditional Hindu wedding flower. Vivid orange marigolds or "genda" signify loyalty in love. Marigolds are traditionally made into garlands and hung from trees. Their loose petals are strewn about the floor and showered over the wedding couple. The bride and groom exchange garlands, usually of marigolds, but garlands of red and white flowers are also popular.