Are there Catholic wedding traditions in India that are particular to that culture?

While the essentials of the Catholic marriage rite are the same throughout the world, the countless accoutrements that surround a wedding vary tremendously according to culture, region and economic status. Some Catholic brides in India wear red saris, while others choose white Western dresses; some couples stage elaborate engagement ceremonies, bridal showers and wedding receptions while others have much more humble celebrations. The Indian subcontinent is home to hundreds of cultures and each one has cherished traditions for the celebration of a wedding.

Here’s just one custom, to pique your interest: some Catholics in India incorporate the giving of the mangal sutra (also called a thali), a sacred thread or necklace, in the marriage ceremony. Originally a Hindu custom, this gift is given to the bride by the groom as a symbol of their union. Its appearance varies by culture – sometimes it is a yellow thread with a gold pendant, sometimes a gold chain, sometimes a string of black beads. Regardless, it is a sign that the wearer is married – much like a wedding ring in Western cultures – and the bride receives it with joy and wears it with pride throughout her married life.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.