Red is an incredibly symbolic colour, it has many different meanings depending on where it is seen. In cinematography it often represents love, desire or danger. When we see it on street signs we know we are being given a warning. Colours are typically important in wedding traditions across the globe and they are often influenced by religion. In England the bride usually wears white to symbolise purity, while red is associated with the devil. The symbolism of red in Indian culture is completely different, influenced by Hindu beliefs, and features heavily in weddings.
In Indian culture colours are highly important. Red symbolises love, commitment, strength and bravery. These associations with the colour red come from Hindu religious beliefs. Red is often connected to Durga, a warrior goddess who symbolises strength and power. It is also associated with the stunning sunrises that spring to mind when you think of India. These are all desirable qualities for a bride to be associated with.
It is traditional for a bride to wear a red sari, ghagra or lehenga-cholis to symbolise prosperity in her new life. Interestingly, in Indian culture, white is typically worn for funerals. Guests are also expected to dress colourfully and avoid wearing black because it represents mourning. It seems to be a universal tradition to avoid wearing the same colour as the bride!
Red is considered one of the most flattering shades to wear on the big day, as it complements the complexion to enhance a bride’s beauty. Red henna may also be worn to symbolise the passage into adulthood and married life. Jewellery is also typically red and so is the sindoor some newly married women wear as a mark of respect. The sindoor is sometimes said to represent the husbands life, so women may have a long, dark sindoor to symbolise a long, prosperous life for their husband. In Hindu tradition married women wear a red bindi, while single females may opt for a black one.
An Indian wedding may last from several days to up to a week (the stages of a Hindu wedding are explained on our blog). The colour will be seen in all stages of the event, if it takes place in a temple the deities will be covered with red powder. Even traditional rituals feature the colour red. Before stepping into her new home, a bride walks barefoot through red water. Her footprints represent the beginning of a new role as wife.
There has been increasing number of Indian brides choosing to wear gold for their wedding instead, as it is considered sophisticated and is associated with royalty. But red remains the most powerfully symbolic colour in Indian culture and will remain a hugely significant part of wedding ceremonies for years to come.
If you’re looking for someone to capture all the colour of your special day, consider getting in touch with a knowledgeable and experienced Indian wedding photographer like Rasphal Photography today.
Rashpal Photography Uxbridge, London