The Haldi Ceremony at a Hindu Wedding

April 18, 2011 - by Preeti

A couple days before a Hindu wedding, the bride and groom each organize a haldi ceremony (sometimes called pithi ceremony) at their respected homes. From this point until the time of the wedding, the couple should not see each nor should they leave the house. Though, I believe many do see each other for logistics sake, or they sneak around.

The haldi paste is made from turmeric, rose water (or water), and sandalwood powder. It is gooey and cold but smells strong and pungent yet refreshing. Organic body wash for the win. Plus it is an antiseptic too. The paste is put on five places: the feet, knees, arms, hands, face. I am not sure why those five places and why start from the feet going up but that's how it goes.

The paste serves as a cleanser for the body and soul and signifies the bride's preparation and welcoming into adult married life. The haldi in some Indian communities also signifies protection, hence why the couple cannot leave the house after the ceremony.

What you need:

  • Haldi powder (turmeric)
  • Rose water, or water
  • Sandalwood powder
  • A nice bowl
  • Mango leaves - to apply the paste
  • Puja thali - for the women to perform the pooja
  • Stools to sit on
  • Scrub - to get the paste off of you when showering

What to wear:

  • Good Indian clothes that can take a beating
  • Light Jewelry
  • Basic Makeup - your face will get covered but let you eyes shine!

Because our wedding is an inter-everything, the groom and his family celebrated the haldi with us. We both sat on stools next to each and women from both families did the puja and applied the paste. Then all our female friends applied and eventually the boys felt left out. It is not customary for men to apply haldi but since our friends formed a line and looked excited, we let them join in on the fun.

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Traditionally after the ceremony, the bride (and groom) are washed off by their own family members. Our families were kind enough to let us de-yellow ourselves. And it takes time to scrub all off the goo and ensure the bathroom isn't completely yellow either (and that you haven't made a mess everywhere!) Haldi stains don't come out easily so be sure to wear not your finest clothes.

We did look a lot like The Simpsons characters after being doused with yellow paint.