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This year I had to opportunity to visit an Indian wedding being a friend of the groom. It was a very interesting experience and I would like to give a presentation in my home country about it. To do that I would like to make sure I explain accurately the different traditions.

On of the ceremonies consisted in the groom's family and close friends using a brush made of something like a pine tree branch, putting it in three(I think) bowls - one seemed like olive oil, one some yellowish powder and one more - and then brushing that against the groom's feet, palms, shoulders and head. Every now and then someone would put toothpaste on him and at the end the family put something like yogurt on his head. We were also supposed to pour fruit juice all of this ending up to be a huge mess. It was a lot of fun for everyone but the groom :) Also they told us the groom was supposed to wear yellow during the ceremony.

I asked my Indian friends about the meaning of the ceremony and about more details but it seems they were also not sure about that. Could someone please explain what is purpose of this ceremony and help fill in the details that I am not sure about? What is the content of the different bowls? Why yellow clothing?

EDIT: adding more details I missed out in my initial post:

  • The wedding happened near Bagdogra
  • The ceremony was indoors (in fact in the hotel where we and the groom were staying)
  • The tree used for brush was not exactly pine - it had long soft needles, maybe closer toenter image description here
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  • India is a multinational state with a lot of different nations like Telugu, Bengali etc. with vastly different cultures and languages. It is like Europe under one State. So you need to be highly aware of which nation's culture you were witnessing. Even then there are significant migations and you might witness a typically non-native custom. Even otherwise, within the same nation, there are different communities and castes which follow distinct customs too. Basically unlike Europe where old customs were erased, the Indian milieu maintains a lot of old and diverse customs.
    – PCH
    Oct 3, 2018 at 19:19
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    You're probably referring to Kusha/Dharba grass. It's not olive oil, but sesame oil. They yellow thing is turmeric. All 3 are considered pure/holy hence used in rituals. They have antiseptic/antibiotic properties as well. And do you mean actual 'toothpaste', or just a paste made out of above items ?
    – mar
    Nov 25, 2019 at 1:20
  • @ram actual toothpaste Nov 25, 2019 at 6:11
  • In that case, it was probably just for fun, once the main rituals were completed. Similar to bashing a birthday cake into someone's face.
    – mar
    Nov 25, 2019 at 6:13

2 Answers 2

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Sounds like a haldi ceremony with local variations... The yellow powder is likely turmeric. Turmeric has traditionally been used in the subcontinent as an antiseptic and an exfoliating agent. Plus, symbolically, yellow is the color of spring or vasant, which symbolizes union and fertility. The other elements probably have localized connotations. The reference to pine makes me think you are mentioning a hill ceremony?

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  • it is not exactly pine but something with long soft needles probably closer to ticonderoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/… Also if that helps the ceremony was performed indoors Oct 3, 2018 at 6:48
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    I know the plant from the pic, but can't remember the local name. Bagdogra is an interesting location, because it would be influenced by both Bengali culture as well as Himalayan culture, which share a common reverence for nature. The use of various plants and other natural elements is again an invocation of the fertility aspect of nature, usually visualized as feminine, i.e. prakriti This is a throwback to the animism origins of pre-deity worship. Oct 3, 2018 at 7:50
  • as pointed out by RajanMishra(see below) it seems the plant is in fact doob grass Oct 3, 2018 at 7:52
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    Hello! Welcome to Hinduism Please visit our help center and see Guidelines for new users answering questions for further understanding of answering on our site. Take a tour , you can earn a badge too. Oct 3, 2018 at 7:54
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Hey @Ivaylo India is a country with numbers of culture. I don't know at which region you have attended the marriage because in India there is a huge change in traditions with a small change in the distances. yellow is supposed to be the sacred color for the wedding ceremony this is why we use yellow color in ceremony like marriages and also the yellow powder which must be turmeric is used due to its glowing effects on skin.

Feet washing has too many reasons in which on of them is that the groom is going to attend a sacred ceremony for which he used to be clean and in the old times we didn't used feet covering as much as we do today.

Another assumption is that during the ceremony groom and bride are supposed to be the idols of Hindu gods so it shows the respects to gods.

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  • Sorry for missing details about the region, I do reallize there are huge difference. I have edited the question with a few more details. Please note this is not feet washing, it was brushing a mixture of the things in the bowls against the feet, palms, shoulders and head Oct 3, 2018 at 6:52
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    yeah that is doob grass ... a sacred plant used in all sacred ceremonies either it is fresh or dried. Oct 3, 2018 at 6:55
  • yeah, sounds plausible. Thank you! Such details help me being more accurate in my presentation Oct 3, 2018 at 6:56
  • well this is an asamee marriage which have more similarities with bengalees. I have friend . Tell you more about it. Oct 3, 2018 at 6:57
  • You are welcome :) happy to help Oct 3, 2018 at 6:57

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