Much is known and talked about the great Indian wedding ceremonies, but not much is known about the engagement ceremonies. Many believe that the idea of celebrating an engagement comes from the west. However, this is untrue and there are many Indian traditions that celebrate this union. In different parts of the country they are known differently like Sagai, Misri, Wagdaan, Mangni, etc.
A usual engagement ceremony
An engagement is one of the very first ceremonies that take place in a wedding. The engagement is usually a small ceremony where the union between two people and families is made official. It is ceremony where usually only close friends and family are invited. Here, the would-be bride and groom exchange rings and vows. The ceremony usually takes place in a convention hall or at a family home. It is an intimate ceremony where two families solemnly acknowledge their union. The engagement ceremony marks the beginning of a commitment that is to last for a lifetime.
Around the country
Different states, religions and castes have slightly different celebrations; only the essential ceremonies remain more or less the same. Described below are some of the traditions that are observed by the different communities in India.
In most Christian families in India, the engagement ceremony is a simple one that is attended by close family and friends. The main part of the ceremony is when the betrothed exchange gold rings. After which they usually have to sign a document that is prepared by the church. This document is then signed by the priest in attendance
In northern Indian, most Hindu families usually prefer to keep the engagement ceremony and the marriage rites not too far apart. In the engagement rituals, the exchange of rings is usually followed by the ‘tilak’ ceremony where the groom-to-be is welcomed into the family by applying vermillion on his forehead, usually by a close family member of the bride. Then gifts are exchanged between the families.
In the southern states, the ceremonies are a little different. Here, it is not mandatory for the couple-to-be wed to be in attendance. The most important ritual is the exchange of the engagement ‘tattu’ or the plate. This plate is filled with coconut, beetle leaves and nuts, flowers and turmeric. This marks the union between two families.
As you can see, even though the traditions differ in different parts of the country, the underlying sentiments of an engagement ceremony remain the same.