Five 'weddings' and...

Five 'weddings' and...
Clockwise from top: A North Indian wedding portrayed with a Bollywood twist; the bride and groom being adorned with garlands in a Hindu wedding; the Indian Muslim couple on the pelamin (wedding dais).

It is said that marriage is not just about joining two people together.

On Jan 30, five mock Indian weddings were held at Thomson Community Club to create community bonds by teaching residents about the marriage traditions of their Indian neighbours.

There was also a buffet dinner and performances by Indian musicians and dancers at the event organised by the Thomson Indian Activity Executive Committee (IAEC) and the Thomson-Toa Payoh Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle.

Actors and volunteers portrayed the weddings of five different cultural backgrounds or religions: Sikh, Muslim, North Indian, Christian and Hindu.

The first wedding began with a bang as bhangra players led the Sikh groom to the stage to meet his bride's family. Traditionally, the groom would arrive on horseback at a Gurdwara, but modern Sikhs usually opt for a car.

An appointed person then reads the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text, which describes the progression of love for the couple in four stanzas.

With each stanza, they will circle the holy text while holding a silk sash given to the bride by her father to symbolise that he is passing on the responsibility for her well-being to the groom.

The Indian Muslim wedding is conducted by a maulvi, an Islamic holy man, typically at the bride's home or a mosque. After the men and women of both families are seated separately, the maulvi begins reading from the Quran.

Following this the groom's family hands over the dowry, usually in the form of cash, to the bride's family.

The North Indian wedding was portrayed with a Bollywood twist - there was a skit with lots of singing and dancing.

The highlight of the wedding, which takes place in the bride's home, was the exchange of garlands between bride and groom, an act which symbolises eternal trust and acceptance.

In contrast, the Christian wedding was a sober affair. At the altar, the couple exchanged vows in front of their bridesmaids, best men and flower girls. Then came the "I dos". But at the event, the serious atmosphere was broken when the actors avoided the kiss that usually follows, laughing instead.

The Hindu couple began their ceremony by putting garlands around each other's necks to signify that the wedding is mutually agreed on.

A ceremonial fire is made to invoke Agni, a Hindu fire deity, to witness the ceremony. The groom then cleans and rubs his parents' feet with herbs as thanks for raising him.

He ties a mangalsutra necklace to the bride's neck to symbolise love, friendship and luck before they adorn their foreheads - kumkum, a red saffron powder for the bride, and chandan tilak, a sandalwood paste for the groom.

The couple then complete their marriage with seven marriage vows and seven footsteps.

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