Saturday, August 11, 2001

Decking up for the D-day
Pinky Adil

COME September and India’s wedding season gets under way. Leading designers like Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, Suneet Varma and Krishna Mehta are already out with their bridal collections of heavily embroidered lehengas, cholis, dupattas, sarees and salwar-kameezes.

Of course, every bride wants exclusive garments made for the most important day in her life. For this, most designers are willing to spend time discussing the trousseau requirements and offer advice on the hairstyle, make-up and accessories matching an outfit.

At times bridal garments weigh up to 20 kg, because of the heavy zardozi work. Some designers like Suneet Verma and Arjun Khanna give two dupattas with such heavy outfit, the light one is for covering the head without disturbing the hairstyle and the other, really heavy one, is meant to be draped on the shoulder.


Clearly it is as important to dress well as it is to look good on the big day. Preparations for beautifying the bride begin weeks in advance, largely in conformity with the well-known principles of solah sringar. Here are 16 steps for the bride to look her stunning best on her wedding day:

Starting from the forehead, the bindi is a must for a Hindu bride. It has to necessarily be in red with elaborate designs in white or sandal paste, which can be hand-painted all around the eyebrows and near the temples and curling down on the cheeks.

Moving down to the nose, a nath or nose ring for the bride has to be unusually big and opulent and has to be attached to the hair if it is very heavy. This is a very important part of the bridal outfit. Naths nowadays do not require that the nose be pierced.

Next, make sure that the beaded jewel tikka worn in the parting of the hair reaches down to the forehead to touch the bindi. This piece of jewellery is as important as the bindi.

Highlighting the eyes with kajal and eye make-up constitutes the next important step in the bridal make-up.

The sindoor or vermilion powder in the centre parting of the hair signifies a woman’s marital status and is normally applied along with the bind. (In some communities the groom applies the sindoor as part of the marriage ceremonies.)

The beautification moves down to the neck where elaborate chains in gold and jewelled necklaces are strung. No bride can be without these neck adornments.

The karn-phul or earrings accentuate the beauty of a bride’s delicate ears. The ear ornaments usually match the necklace or chain in colour and design.

Applying mehndi or henna, is another important part of adorning the bride. In many communities, the application constitutes a major ceremony with friends of the bride taking part. This ritual is usually performed in the morning or a day before the wedding.

Bangles also indicate the marital status of a woman. Marriage bangles are mostly red (occasionally in green glass) with gold ornamentation.

The baazu bandh or armlet is another accessory every bride wears.

A quaint custom involves wearing the arsi or thumb ring in which she can sneak a look at the reflection of the groom. Tradition dictates that the bride does not see the groom in the eye till the wedding rituals are done with.

Flowers or jasmine gajras in the bride’s hair add fragrance and beauty to her looks.

In order to emphasise an hourglass figure, most brides wear a kamarbandh or waistband. This ornament also helps keep the saree or dupatta in place.

Payals are put on to jingle as the bride takes the customary seven rounds with the groom around the sacred fire. Anklets are worn because no part of the bride’s body is supposed to be without a piece of jewellery.

The bichhuas or toe rings are the final adornments.

The bride then dabs some atar or perfume before stepping out for the ceremony.

Dressed in the most beautiful brocade she has ever worn, the bride is now ready to take her place by the side of her groom.

— MF