Post # 1
I just got engaged to a wonderful man who grew up Hindu. We’re trying to navigate fusing Hindu and Christian (Episcopalian) traditions and are not having much success compromising. His family wants to have the whole she-bang (all pre-wedding and wedding events). We currently have agreed to hold a Hindu ceremony in the morning and a Christian ceremony at night but are at a stalemate with pre-wedding events. I want a rehearsal dinner with toasts and his family wants all the of the Hindu ceremonies (Sangeet, Mehndi, etc). Any advice on fusing the ceremonies? What is actually required for a Hindu ceremony versus preference? Anyone on here already navigating or have already navigated these stressful waters? Any advice would be appreciated!! (Including the wedding ceremony advice).
Post # 2
I’m hearing a lot of “I want” vs “his family wants” – but nothing about what your partner wants. While I can’t speak to how to incorporate Hindu traditions in your ceremony, what I can tell you is that you and your partner need to get on the same page before anything else, because the cultural/religious stress you’re under with your wedding is only going to continue once you get married. His family will continue exerting pressure, especially if you have children, but you and your partner are the only ones in your marriage, so you two need to be a united force.
I had similar issues with my wedding as I come from an Eastern Orthodox Christian background and dh is Jewish. Both of our families put a TON of pressure on us about the ceremony. Mine wanted it to be in a church, and failing that, at least with a Christian officiant and a Christian ceremony. Dh’s parents said they wouldn’t come to the wedding at all if there was any Christian component to it. The pressure we were under from both families was truly horrible – I almost had a nervous breakdown over it. We ended up going to premarital counseling over it because we couldn’t come to an agreement. Though neither of us is particularly religious, we didn’t want to upset our families so we were just really struggling with what to do. In the end, we had dh’s brother officiate in a mostly secular service (though one of the readings was Corinthians 13 from the New Testament), and then a family friend of ours who is a priest gave a brief, interfaith blessing at the end – it was actually a reading from the Old Testament. This was the compromise we came up with and it was STILL incredibly hard for our parents. Mine cried when I told them dh’s brother would be our officiant (not a priest), and dh’s again threatened not to come if the family friend priest gave a blessing. But we stood firm, and everyone got over it (more or less), showed up on the day and put on their happy faces.
We’ve now been married 1.5 yrs and I’m pregnant with our first baby. Neither set of parents has made a PEEP about how we will raise our child from a religious standpoint, which is night and day from our wedding, when they wouldn’t shut up about religion. I know my parents are dying to know if we’ll baptize the baby, but the fact that they haven’t been putting any pressure on me directly shows massive progress from how they approached the wedding. I think we showed them by standing firm with our wedding that we are not going to bow to pressure; we’re ultimately going to make our own decisions and not let our parents dictate our lives. Dh’s parents also haven’t said a word about religion, even though I’m sure it’s on their minds.
Anyway this is a long-winded way of saying you and your fi really need to get on the same page and make a joint decision that your marriage comes first. How you plan and execute your wedding is your first and biggest test – but it won’t be the last. You have to prioritize each other over pleasing your parents/families. Of course, this is easier said than done, particularly for people who come from very close-knit families, which it sounds like your fi does.
Good luck bee!
Post # 3
we were invited to a name ceremony this year and it was the best! They had a girl and to hear all the positive aspects the Jewish community has towards females gave me so much hope (I had a girl a month later and it just scares me to think what she will have to endure from society)
Post # 4
My fiance and I are having a Hindu – Jewish fusion wedding (or “Hinjew” as I like to call it), so perhaps our plans might help give you some ideas.
The key thing is that we have kept our families out of the decision making process, but did keep updating them as plans developed, as to different aspects of traditions we were incorporating from the two cultures. That way they felt involved, but never got to call the shots. Admittedly there are more commonalities between wedding rituals in our case, than in yours, but we have also incorporated things that you’d never see in an Indian wedding e.g. the breaking of the glass.
As for the pre-wedding functions, we have opted for a Rehearsal/Mehendi dinner, as we both only wanted one pre-wedding function. So essentially it’s dinner and dancing, with a mehendi artist available for guests.
The reality is that none of these functions (sangeet, mehendi, etc) are actually “required” or mandatory components of Indian weddings. Sangeet and mehendi was traditionally done at the bride’s house, with a small gathering of her closest female friends and relatives. Over the years as Indian weddings have gotten larger, crazier and more commercialised, these have been turned into full-blown, lavish events that go on for days. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding. You and your partner need to talk it out and find ways to compromise – whether it be by fusing some pre-wedding events, or getting to pick one each. Don’t let family pressure you into doing anything you don’t want. I understand resisting pressure from Indian families can be hard, but it’s not impossible and you want to establish boundaries sooner rather than later.
Post # 5
Thank you so much for your response! I appreciate you sharing your experience. It was really encouraging! Thank you again!
Post # 6
I had a muslim/secular wedding. sort of lol.
We did have a mendhi night and a separate (but casual) rehearsal dinner. We did a secular ceremony (as neither of us are actually religious), but there were some traditional things that mil did at the beginning of the reception. As everyone was seated. So we walked in as our grand entrance, thanked everyone, passed the mic over and she began. We had the swastika on the ground, with the “sapatia” (little clay pots) and a little …shelf? Raised platform? behind it. She did the “shinda” (cracking of the knuckles to remove pain). Then she throws a betel nut in all 4 directions (to dispel evil). Then we broke the sapatia (first person to break it wears the pants kind of thing), everyone cheered and then we ate. It was a pretty “white” wedding, but with some traditional elements thrown in.
Post # 7
Congrats on your engagement!! MY Fiance is Hindu too and planning our wedding has been fun but full of surprises! I don’t have a problem with his family being involved in planning, as culturally it is an important event for them that they want to share with their community. And they have been totally okay with me incorporating my own family’s traditions and having a say all along the way. My understanding is that the ceremony (shaadi) is the only part required for marriage, but the pre-wedding ceremonies/traditions are also important culturally. We are having a puja (prayer ceremony) on the first day, then a Sangeet and Sagai (engagement) a few days later. Those two ceremonies will both be at FI’s family’s house and they are taking care of planning everything. I am having a Mehendi party at my family’s house – I am planning that and deciding which of my family/friends to invite. Then we are having the ceremony itself, which is what the largest number of guests are invited to, with a meal served afterwards. This will be traditional but with small requests of mine included (i.e. a flower girl and bridesmaids, music that I chose, etc.) The next day we will have a reception where I will wear a western wedding dress and it will include traditions from both cultures. We went back and forth about having a Christian ceremony before the reception as well, but in the end I decided we could incorporate the traditions that are important to me into the other days easily enough. My family and I are not particularly religious so everyone is okay with one ceremony. And it is less for everyone to sit through! But if it is important to you and your family, I think the easiest way to honour both religions is by including two separate ceremonies. For pre-wedding events, it is pretty flexible how you want to do those. You can combine western and Hindu ones in the same event or make them as small or large as you want (i.e. immediate family only, at home, or rent a venue and invite lots of people).
Post # 8
Planning a joint secular and Hindu wedding now!
I honestly don’t have much advice, but after getting engaged we sat down with both sets of parents to hear them out about expectations. We decided that it would probably be best to have two separate days for each ceremony to spare any hurt feelings; so both will happen in the same weekend. Both sets of parents had taken the stance that if ‘their’ wedding didn’t happen then it didn’t count.
Aaaand now they’re begrudgingly participating in the ‘other’ wedding. It’s not ideal, but at least no one is pitching a fit, I guess?
Post # 9
You’re welcome! Please feel free to DM me if you have any more questions 🙂
Post # 10
We did both! Just extend the week longer. Our schedule was:
Thursday: South Indian Engagement ceremony in morning followed by Mehndhi/Sangeet in evening
Friday: South Indian Wedding in morning, Rehearsal Dinner in evening
Saturday: North Indian/American Wedding in afternoon, reception in evening