Having never attended an Indian Engagement Ceremony before, I had no idea what to expect when we pulled up to the Biltmore for Monal and Minesh’s. It was incredible. Everyone was dressed in their traditional Indian attire and the brilliant color and details added with the beautiful architecture of the Biltmore was absolutely lavish.
Traditionally, the engagement ceremony, called vivah, takes place at the groom’s house. It begins with the arrival of the maatli from the bride’s family to the grooms family. The maatli were clay containers filled with mithais (sweets) that had to be presented to the grooms family before entering the house. Presently the clay containers have been replaced with modern decorated containers. These containers are still filled with sweets and presents for the grooms family. The containers, always an odd number, are carried by the bride’s brothers and male family members.
Once, the maatli has arrived at the Groom’s house, the groom’s mother applies a chandlo (the vermilion mark) to the forehead to the maatli bearers and accepts the gifts. By taking the gifts and giving the marks it indicates that the groom’s family accepts the marriage alliance. Once the alliance has been accepted, the brides friends and family are invited in.
While the ceremony was not held at Minesh’s home, Monal, her brothers and cousins gathered in front of the biltmore to offer their gifts to Minesh’s family before entering the ceremony.
The exchange of rings is the official engagement ceremony and was followed by several more rituals of blessing and luck between the couple and their parents.
While this ceremony was originally held for arranged marriages and was traditionally the first time the bride and groom and their families met, it is still a way to officially announce engagement and acceptance into one another’s families.
After all the traditions were finished it was time to celebrate! There were several beautiful dancers, speeches, and of course food!