The North-East Wedding – Homegrown inspiration for homegrown weddings!

When we look at the big fat Indian wedding, we tend to miss out on some things. We miss out on the rich heritage our own country has, from state to state. The team at Wedswing believes in bringing customs from all over the world for you to read. Why? Because we must make the best of what our own country has to offer! The Indian states belonging to the North East have customs that have gone unnoticed, or just unexplored by many of us.

People combine religious traditions and beliefs when the bride and the groom belong to different states altogether – some can even do it because of convenience. Why not include some of these at your own wedding? Some of their customs really have deep rooted beliefs, and beautiful gestures of love. Who knows, maybe these will help you strengthen the bond you have?

 

What States?

Wedding traditions across India have some common features. There are many that haven’t even been seen by more than a handful of people who are not from those traditions. So, when we say the North East, we mean the rituals followed by Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. While it’s tempting to go over Bengali and Oriya traditions too, they need a separate blog entry to themselves!

See Also:
Assamese wedding rituals.

Instead of going over all the states lengthily, we’re going to talk about some of the most interesting customs that you can think about. Of course, you’re free to take inspiration from them in any way you want.

Girl Power

A lot of North-Eastern wedding ceremonies indicate that women are given more of a preference, since most of their societies are not male-dominated. Meghalaya is the most prime example of this.

There is no dowry system here. Marriages are also conducted in the bride’s home, and to top it off, the groom moves to the woman’s ancestral home after the marriage. The couple will also take on the bride’s mother’s name to honor the lineage. The wealth of the family is also automatically transferred to the woman, as she is the symbol of family status in this state.

The ring ceremony is a fun feature where the bride and groom exchange rings in bags containing betel nuts. You can of course use something more intimate for you if you want to borrow this custom!

No one can pick just one

Nagaland is clearly killing it in our list because yet another tribe, the Semas, have some really liberal customs! They are polygamous (not recommended for you committed guys maybe?) by choice.

The men can marry as many women as possible but one wife amongst all the wives gets the title of ‘head wife’. She also doesn’t need to be the eldest wife, but commonsense dictates that she must be the favorite. Quite a stage for a full-blown family drama, right?

The Changs (another tribe) limit their wives to six – how gracious of them! The Lothas, on the other hand, favor rich men in the polygamy department and allow them to marry a second wife.

Till Death Do Us Part

Mizoram has a mixed bag of traditions that combine orthodox beliefs with modern dating. Since many citizens there have also converted to Christianity, they also include their practices.

Marriage payment is very much an important feature here. The groom has to approach the girl’s family and ‘settle’ on a price for the marriage. After this, they are given ample time to get to know each other and see if they’re a good fit for each other.

Then, the wedding ritual takes place in the church, where the bride gives the groom a Puandum ­– which is a rug – to wear. Now this rug is very important as this is what the groom also wears after death! While this may be creepy for some, let’s also take a moment to appreciate the gesture of literally, ‘till death do us part’. Will your future husband wear something like this for you?

Fowl Play

The Angami tribe, again from Nagaland, strangle a fowl before a marriage can be declared. Most people seem to be converting to vegetarianism under the pretext of ‘if I can’t kill it then I can’t eat it”, so here’s a chance for all you carnivores to prove your mettle. (This is a joke, for those who don’t get it)

Plus, the woman, during negotiations, may call off the wedding at any time she wants if she dreams of anything inauspicious! Well sounds like a shady excuse but again, if the men are up for it, why not.

Are you worthy of wedding my daughter?

Tripura really makes the men work hard for their prospective wives! The hapless groom is fully tested if he’s a tribal once he intends to marry. He has to immediately shift to the wife’s house and he may stay there for a period of 6 months to almost a year. Now you may ask, what does he even do there?

He proves that he can be her potential mate by working for them, taking care of the household, taking care of her – and anything else that they need from him, for that matter. Reportedly, this is to access his potential and if they don’t like him – they send him back! Yup, no payment or anything, just send him right back.

To the men, I ask – you think you can stand up to this challenge for your soon-to-be wife?

Wanna take a trade trip?

In an interesting twist, Nagaland’s Mongsen tribe members send the ‘to-be’ couple before marriage on a trip. The couple has to do the rounds with some goods and really kill it there because a profit means that the marriage is auspicious.

A loss means…well, no moolah, no wedding! Entrepreneurs may want to include this if they actually believe in their ability to sell stuff, right?

He will capture you (literally)

Arunachal Pradesh gives you some interesting ways to marry. One is ‘Marriage by Negotiation’, which is the most conventional of the lot. The other, more adventurous ways to marry are ‘Marriage by Kidnapping’ and ‘Marriage by Eloping’.

To ‘romantically elope’ with the bride, the groom has to make a ritual sacrifice before entering the bride’s village (how committed). Here, he has to convince the bride’s parents that he’s worth it.

The groom’s family, when given the green signal, packs enough for 4 days of an extended stay.

Then they climb to a hilltop near the village (or some such suitable place) and shout ‘Ho!’ to show that they’ve arrived. Then, the bride’s family prepares lunch for them over there which is followed by a party where women disguised as men surprise everyone during song and dance. The third day actually has them playing Holi and splashing color on each other to celebrate the marriage!

‘Marriage by Kidnapping’ is fairly straightforward and not recommended – unless of course, the entire family is somehow in on the joke.

About the Author

Monica

Monica is a moniker for our relationship expert. She's been working as a relationship counselor for over 10 years, and over time, has sharpened her personality. Unlike typical counselors, Monica is not afraid to use a harsher method to resolve certain issues that demand it. Even if she's a virtual entity now, she can still see into your soul.

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