henna

A Hindu bride’s ‘hennaed’ hands.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the world the union of a man and a woman is a much celebrated occasion. In most cultures it is a time of great festivities and elaborate rites and traditions.

In India, for instance, on the night before a Hindu wedding, an artist will apply henna in intricate designs on the bride’s hands, arms, legs and feet. As for the groom, he may choose to have a Baraat — an elaborate groom’s procession — and arrive to his wedding on a beautifully costumed white horse or even an elephant.

Some wedding day traditions revolve around, surprisingly, animals. For instance, a groom from the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe is expected to bring livestock, such as cattle and goats, with him to the home of his chosen bride before the wedding as a sort of dowry or payment. Some of these animals will then be given to the groom’s new in-laws, while others will be slaughtered and used in preparation for the wedding.

In South American countries like Venezuela and Columbia, the giving of a dowry is more official yet ultimately symbolic. In these countries, the groom will present 13 coins, also known as Las Arras, to his bride during the wedding ceremony. It is a gesture that is supposed to show that he will be capable of taking care of her after they are married.

There are so many different traditions associated with the wedding. It would be fascinating to take a tour around the world hopping from wedding to wedding to experience the variety of customs associated with different cultures.  What traditions are you familiar with?

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