With 1.252 billion people calling India home and 780 different languages spoken, India is a diverse country in every sense of the word. This diversity spans across culture, clothing, food, traditions and customs. Given this vast diversity, a typical traditional wedding ceremony does not exist and subsequently there is no typical Indian wedding menu! Nevertheless we can get a taste of the cultural extravaganza that is a Hindu wedding!
A Hindu wedding (also known as Vivah Sanskar) marks the start of the most important stage of life as it is the beginning of establishing a new family unit. Traditional wedding ceremonies can last up to four days. The actual wedding ceremony is traditionally meant to take place outdoors under a canopy, called a man dap. Nowdays, weddings are commonly held at the home of the bride or at a hall, in which case a man dap is constructed indoors.
Food plays an important role in Indian culture, particularly in Indian weddings. Hindu weddings do not have a specific set menu, but, particular foods will be served depending on the region in which the bride and groom hail from. However, there are a number of dishes that make frequent appearances.
One dish that repeatedly gets invited to the party is Paan. Pann, is a sweet treat made from varying combinations of the following ingredients- depending on personal preference- and all rolled in a chilled betel leaf:
- shavings of the areca nut
- sweetened coconut
- rose petal jam
- roasted fennel seeds
- anise seeds
Pann is a traditional after meal refreshment that is commonly served at the end of ceremonies- especially weddings. It symbolises hospitality, aids in digestion and freshens the mouth following a heavy meal (which is always the case at an an Indian wedding). Pann is usually placed near the exit of the wedding venue or next to the food service area so guest can refresh their taste buds. There are varying opinions of whether Pann should be swallowed after chewing or spat out after one has finished enjoying the aromatic flavours!
One thing is for sure, when attending an Indian wedding- and travelling through India in general- one is advised to wear loose stretchy clothing, sans belt , and finish the night with a tasty palate cleansing Pann!!