After a whirlwind romance complete with a Met Gala appearance and an endearing first date story, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are getting married. With guests arriving in India for the event this week, the couple is set to tie the knot this weekend, but not before participating in the requisite ceremonies of an Indian wedding. In a recent interview with Vogue, Chopra said that "people will need vacations after this wedding," possibly nodding to the length of the average Indian wedding, though she was more likely hinting at how much fun the attendees will have.
In general, Indian weddings last between two and three days, explains wedding stylist Meha Bhargava of Styl.Inc. The exact length depends on how the couple chooses to schedule the days, which brings us to the ceremonies themselves. Bhargava says that the average Indian wedding includes the following Hindu ceremonies: Mehendi, Sangeet, Haldi, and the wedding itself.
The Mehendi ceremony is when the bride and groom have henna (also known as mehndi or mehendi) applied to them in intricate designs. Bhargava says it's common for the bridal henna (which mainly appears on her hands and feet) to feature the groom's initials somewhere in the design — and it's up to him to find it. Overall, she describes this ceremony as relatively intimate, with mainly family and close friends in attendance.
The Sangeet ceremony follows the Mehendi ceremony and it is, in Bhargava's words, "nothing but a dance party." It usually begins while the bridal party is still applying the henna to the bride — they might start by singing a few traditional songs, but it eventually becomes a full-fledged party in honor of her wedding.
The next day starts off with the Haldi ceremony, in which haldi, or turmeric, is applied to the bride and groom in order to ward off evil spirits. Customarily, they wear yellow, white, or pastel-colored clothes to reflect the joyous tone of this morning ceremony. "A paste is made, using haldi with other ingredients. Some use sandalwood powder and milk, others use rose water and gram flour," Bhargava explains, adding that's applied to the couple's faces, necks, hands, and feet. "Sometimes, to make it fun, the bride and the groom also apply [the paste to] their unmarried friends and siblings. It’s said that whoever gets touched by the same paste as the bride and groom will soon find a good looking partner."
The wedding itself can take place later the same day as the Haldi ceremony or on the following day. Bhargava says that, unless the officiating priest advises otherwise, Indian wedding ceremonies are usually held at sundown. Traditionally, Indian weddings will feature Hindu prayers, the exchanging of vows, and a holy fire, which the couple may walk around or make offerings to.
Bhargava believes that Chopra and Jonas' wedding will follow a relatively traditional route (aside from, obviously, the Christian ceremony that they're reportedly planning for a later date). Therefore, each of these ceremonies will likely be part of the couple's weekend plans. Aside from the ceremonies themselves, the most important thing about an Indian wedding (or any wedding, for that matter) is the presence of the couple's family and friends. With that mind, Chopra and Jonas can rest easily knowing that they're starting off their marriage right.