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Hindu weddings can take on a variety of appearances. They vary greatly depending on what part of the world the wedding is held in and what the personal tastes are of the bride and groom. All Hindu weddings are performed by a Hindu priest and are considered sacred. They may last several hours–or even several days. But they are rarely as short as most Christian weddings are. Hindu wedding ceremonies do not have to be performed in a Hindu temple, but the date of the wedding is usually decided by the family and the priest, who look at astrology charts to find a reasonable time.
The bride is usually decked out in a red and gold sari. She wears plenty of jewelry. The groom spends virtually the entire wedding ceremony sitting in a chair behind a cloth curtain, where the parents of the bride offer him fruit gifts and wash his feet. They spend that time begging him to accept their daughter in holy matrimony.
The Hindu wedding begins with the greeting of guests with kumkuma, which is a red powder. Guests are also given flowers. The priest then sprinkles holy water on the bride and groom and chants a holy reading called Sanskrit mantras.
The moment when the marriage becomes official is when the couple, with the palms of their right hands, pastes cumin seeds and brown sugar to each other's heads. This is meant to symbolize the beginning of their life together. The groom then places a gold necklace around his bride's neck, and they clothe each other with garlands, then throw rice over each other's heads.
The bride and groom end the ceremony by taking seven steps around a fire. Each step is meant to symbolize a different blessing which they pray for.