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Red in Indian Weddings

Collection:  Indian wedding – significance of red

A: “What is the significance of red in Indian weddings?”

B: “ Well red symbolizes a married woman, so the groom spreads red tika called Sindoor on the bride’s hairline…Oh! And the bride wear red.”

A: “A red dress?”

B: “It can be a saree, salwar suit, or whatever she wants.”

Context/Interpretation: While different colors take on different meanings and degrees of significance around the world, red is almost universally used in the development of womanhood. Marriage is a defining moment of adulthood, specifically womanhood, in many cultures. Therefore, the red in Indian weddings stays consistent with the red symbolism.

Annotated Bibliography:

SmarterTravel. “So THAT’S Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Green Hat In China.” The Huffington Post,, 26 Jan. 2017.

According to the article, “Red is the most powerful of all colors in Indian culture and holds many important meanings.” In fact, red can convey fear, power, fertility, love, beauty, and more. More significantly, red is known to symbolize an Indian woman’s marriage through red henna, red sindoor, and her outfit.


That Haldi Glow

Collection: Indian wedding substance – folk object

After a prior discussion about Indian weddings, the informant continued to describe the second day of the celebration.  In the morning of the second day, the couple is physically painted with haldi by the families. Haldi is also known as turmeric which contains cleansing qualities and produces a glowing effect on the skin.

Context/Interpretation:  The couple’s cleansing is both literal and symbolic. According to the informant, it is important for the couple to be cleansed by their families prior to the unification. The yellow haldi represents blessings, purification, and it is supposed to ward of evil beings.


The Groom’s Shoes

Collection: Indian wedding prank

During a discussion about Indian wedding customs, the informant described a common practical joke. There is a tradition in which the bride’s siblings steal the groom’s shoes. Consequently, the siblings set a price that the groom must pay in order to get his shoes back.

Context: This tradition is considered a practical joke as it is implemented at the expense of the groom. Practical jokes are especially apparent in weddings because the ceremony is a rite of passage.


Dorm Ghost

Collection: USC dorm ghost – Legend (ghost)

After asking about any unusual experiences, the informant recounted a peculiar situation that took place at USC.

“So one morning, I was just laying in the bed, facing the wall. After a little bit, I heard the sound of my roommate, Andrew’s, covers move, like the sound of his comforter moving… But I didn’t think anything of it because I figured that he had just moved his blanket. But when I turned over to look, Andrew wasn’t even in the room…”

Context/Interpretation: The informant lives with one roommate in a residence hall style dorm at USC. While the performer did not explicitly state that he saw a “ghost,” he described the occurrence as being paranormal as in out of the ordinary. The belief in ghosts in America is so vast, yet it strays from religion and government. However, it is very common for informants to refer to these types of stories as unusual, rather than ghostly.


A Spirited Dream

Collection: Legend (ghost) and Folk Belief

I asked the informant to describe an unusual happenings regardings spirits or the soul. She answered with the following story.

“A few weeks after my dad died, he came to me in a dream. This was the most realistic dream I have ever had even to this day. Of course I was so overjoyed to see him and talk to him because he had just passed away. He told me that he was so proud of me and his grandchildren and that I’ve done a wonderful job raising them. After we talked for awhile, he said, ‘I’m sorry honey but I have to go now.’ I cried and screamed, ‘Please Daddy don’t go! Don’t go!!!’ He said, ‘I love you, I’m okay, don’t be sad and don’t be scared. I’m okay.’ He started to rise up, up ,up in the air, and then he was gone. The next thing I know my husband is saying, ‘What’s wrong?’ I was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking up at the corner where the wall meets the ceiling, and  yelling for my dad to stay.

Context/Interpretation: This collection depicts folk belief in a soul and implies the existence of an afterlife or spirit. Further, this narrative reflects the life cycle as the informant’s father spoke to her after death, and he mentioned new life, her children.