Indian Pre-Wedding Rituals: An American Perspective as an Indian Bride

Before I begin, I think it’s important to mention that while I was born and raised in the United States, my (now) husband was born and raised in India. When we were in our early stages of dating, we began to talk about marriage as we both knew from day one that we would spend the rest of our lives with each other. So, due to coming from two completely different cultures, we decided to have to two separate weddings in order to be able to give full respect to the ways that each of our cultures signify and celebrate marriages.

Our “Indian Wedding”, as we nicknamed it, took place in December 2023 in Monish’s hometown of Vadodara, Gujarat, India at Laxminarayan Club & Resort. For those of you who may not know much about Indian weddings, they are extensive as there are many different rituals, ceremonies and events involved. Weddings will often span over the course of 2 to 3 days, though sometimes they can last as long as 5 or 6 days. We decided that our Indian Wedding would last no more than 3 days as we invited some of my friends from the U.S. and Norway to attend.

Let it be known that because India has such a vast and complex culture, no two Indian weddings are alike, even those taking place in the same region. The events, rituals and the order in which we chose for them to occur for our wedding will likely differ from other Indian weddings held in Gujarat, especially if the families involved practice a different religion. Monish’s family is Hindu, so the religious aspects of our wedding followed those of Hindu tradition and beliefs.

On the first day of our wedding, we held our Mehndi Ceremony at Monish’s parents house in Vadodara. If you’re interested in learning more about this ceremony and/or my perspective on attending it as a bride, check out my previous article, Mehndi Ceremony: An American Perspective as an Indian Bride.

The second day of our wedding began with an array of rituals that took place in the morning. We started with the Ganesh Pooja at Monish’s parent’s house, then continued with the Mandap Mahurat and Grah Shanti at Laxminarayan Club & Resort. I’m going to briefly explain these rituals based upon what I’ve learned about them via my own research, while also adding my personal thoughts on experiencing these rituals as a bride. Let’s dive in, shall we?!

Ganesh Pooja

Most Hindu weddings are marked with the worship of Lord Ganesha. This ritual is known as Ganesh Pooja, or Ganesh Sthapan in Gujarati weddings, and is typically performed at both houses of the bride and groom separately. Lord Ganesh (also known as Ganapati) is a Hindu God known as the “Remover of Obstacles”. So, the idea behind a Ganesh Pooja is to seek blessings for an obstacle-free wedding and a prosperous married life for the couple. This pooja is considered auspicious in every Hindu family, and no marriage takes place without invoking Lord Ganesh. During the ceremony, a lot of planning also goes into decorating the idol of Lord Ganesh and there are many different “ingredients” required in order to perform this ritual.

Since I am American, this ritual was held at Monish’s parent’s house for the both of us as there was no need to perform a separate one for me as I was staying in the family home along with Monish. Neither of us were actually involved in this ritual, though, but instead Monish’s cousin, Yash, and his wife, Amruta, performed this ritual with the guidance of the family priest. I’m honestly not sure why, but each of the rituals that I discuss in this article (including this first one) involved a married relative of Monish to sit and perform the ritual for us along with their spouse. While having the same couple perform all of these rituals was an option, Monish’s mom asked a different couple to participate in each one so as to spread out the duties.

If you’d like to learn more about this sacred ritual, check out this informative article, The Significance of Ganesh Pooja Before the Wedding, found on

Mandap Mahurat

During the Mandap Mahurat, both the bride and groom’s families seek blessings from Mother Earth separately at their respective homes. “They worship the piece of land where they would later create the wedding mandap and ask mother Earth’s permission to carry out the ritual.” Again, Monish and I did not participate in this ritual, but instead his cousin, Mrunali, and her husband, Himanshu, performed this ritual and asked for these blessings for us.

To be frank, I couldn’t find much information about this ritual online. I found the above information in an article titled, Gujarati Pre Wedding Ceremonies, found on The thing that I learned about Indian Wedding Rituals is that while most of Monish’s friends/family members who are married have participated in them, almost everyone is unsure of why they take place or the purpose of them. In decades and centuries past, Indian kids were often told to do things or participate in events without questioning the elders who requested this, meaning they often did things without knowing why. When the internet came around, kids became curious and started asking more questions, although parents themselves sometimes didn’t have any answers to give. I’ve actually asked Monish’s mom a lot of questions about our wedding rituals (and Indian culture in general) and have often been met with, “this is just what we’ve always done” or “I don’t have an answer for you“. That said, if you’re reading this and can point me in the direction of an article that better explains this ritual, please leave a comment below! I’d appreciate it a lot.

This ritual took place at Laxminarayan Club & Resort and took place before our Grah Shanti. Below are a few photos of this ritual.

Grah Shanti

This is another pre-wedding ritual which is performed to remove any potential obstacles and bring happiness and prosperity into the lives of the couple. As stated in an article titled, Holy Vibes: The Grah Shanti Pooja Explained And Why You Need To Plan For One, “In Hindu culture, it is believed that the stars and the planets have a great influence on our lives, so this pooja is performed to ensure that the Navagrah, or 9 planets, are aligned for both the bride and the groom in order for them to live a happy life together. Grah means ‘the house’ and Shanti means ‘peace’, thus this ritual means ‘the peace of the house’“.

Traditionally, this ceremony is performed separately for the bride and groom at each of their homes along with their families. This method is employed in order to get rid of individual doshas (bad habits) that either of them may possess. Learned priests perform the pooja at both the locations and Lord Ganesha is also invoked during this ceremony. Family and close friends are invited to attend and give blessings to the couple. For more details on this ritual, check out this informative article found on

Again, because I am American and do not have a separate family home in Vadodara, it was decided to have the priest perform one ceremony for both myself and Monish. That said, we actually got to participate in this ritual, though not for the entire duration. It began with Monish and myself being called to perform a few sacred tasks, starting with Moni’s mom placing a red dot on both mine and Moni’s foreheads, between the eyebrows. As stated in an article titled, The Purpose of the Bindi, found on, “Hindu tradition holds that all people have a third inner eye. The two physical eyes are used for seeing the external world, while the third focuses inward toward God. As such, the red dot signifies piety as well as serving as a constant reminder to keep God at the center of one’s thoughts.”

Afterwards, Kumud Kaki, Moni’s aunt who we asked to sit with her husband, Raju, as my parents throughout these ceremonies for me (more on this later), placed a floral garland around both mine and Moni’s necks. Next, Moni’s uncle, Dilip Mama, was called by the priest to perform some sacred tasks as a blessing for us. Once this was complete, Moni and I were no longer required to be present for the rituals as his sister, Tanvi, and her husband, Jigar, would step in for the time being.

While the ritual continued on without us, Moni and I were pulled aside by the photographers to take some photos (see below). The photographers also included Mom (Hema) and Dad (Maulesh) in many of these photos. I didn’t mention this before, but in India, weddings are considered a family affair as they have traditionally been a celebration of the joining of two families versus merely the union of a couple, as they are in American culture.

Eventually, Moni and I joined Tanvi and Jigar and began participating in the rituals with the priest. While I can’t explain the majority of what occurred throughout this ceremony, I do know that it started with Moni’s mom once again placing a red dot on Moni’s forehead. Next, she placed a few items in his hands that he would then offer to the Hindu God, Ganesh. These items included but were not limited to a Betel leaf, money (Indian rupees), a coconut, rice and red flowers.

Once Moni completed these sacred tasks, it was my turn. Kumud Kaki performed the exact same tasks for me as Moni’s mom did for him. Once each of us had completed these sacred tasks, we took a seat on either side of Tanvi and Jigar. Next, the priest (also known as a brahmin) tied a red thread on both mine and Moni’s right wrists. “Another important element of [Hindu wedding rituals] is red thread as it is considered auspicious in many Hindu traditions.” Everything I did past this point is honestly a blur of “following the leader” and performing additional tasks as instructed by the priest.

When the ceremony was officially complete, Moni and I rushed to enjoy some lunch. Our guests had already begun eating, as is the norm during Indian weddings, though now it was finally our turn to enjoy some delicious Indian dishes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to eat as these ceremonies took longer than expected and we now found ourselves behind schedule for the next event…

Up Next: The Haldi Ceremony. Make sure to stay in the loop by subscribing to my blog, where I’ll be sharing ongoing updates on my journey as the bride in an Indian wedding.

Special thanks to Pranav and his team at House of Stories for beautifully capturing all of our wedding events.


Published by Bailey Reber

Hi friends! Welcome to the world of Hey Bails, where you will get a glimpse of all the things I get myself into! Explore the world with me, check up on my progress learning the Hindi language, hear about my journey with mental health & bipolar 2 disorder via my podcast (Distressed to Joyful; Bailey's Way) and learn how to do a variety of DIY projects with me, such as crafting and beauty tutorials. So, what are you waiting for? Let's start having FUN!

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