White Dresses At Weddings…Or Not?


“When I was growing up, my mother told me that the worst thing to do at my wedding was to wear white. This struck me as odd, because I went to a Catholic school, and I saw all of the young Christian girls planning their weddings with these beautiful white gowns. Although I was surrounded by these girls at school, I realized that I wasn’t like them, because I came from a traditional Hindu family, in which the color we wear at weddings is a stunning shade of scarlet. It immediately registered in my mind that this was one of the many major cultural differences between me and them. But more importantly, I couldn’t wear white because for us, white is the color of death, mourning, and widowhood.”


The informant related to me the setting of her experience with this superstition: “I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom while my mother sat on the bed, clipping the tops off of haricots verts. I was doing the very stereotypically feminine activity of flipping through a bridal magazine and selecting my future wedding dress. The moment she saw me linger on the white wedding gown, she gasped and then warned me against wearing white at my wedding.”


In the belief system of Hinduism, as the informant mentioned, white is not an auspicious color at all. It symbolizes infertility, death, funerals, mourning, and widowhood. Two of the above characteristics are highly undesirable in a wife – infertility and widowhood. Therefore, the color white does not bode well for a new bride in the traditions of Hinduism. In addition to this, things which have an association with death, in Hinduism, are avoided like the plague, because they are considered highly inauspicious. Therefore, white, in a Hindu wedding, is not a color traditionally worn by the bride.