Turmeric is used in a huge number of different roles across the world. In an ancient Indian tradition, however, turmeric (or haldi) is actually used as part of a wedding ceremony.
The haldi ceremony is a ritual holy bath. It’s also known as the pithi ceremony, and it’s one of many pre-wedding ceremonies in India. In the ceremony, turmeric, oil, and water are mixed before being painted onto the bride and groom. The painting is typically done by married women on the morning of the wedding.
The ritual serves two purposes: one physical and one spiritual. The spiritual reason for the ritual being done in the run-up to a wedding is that haldi is believed to bless the couple and their future relationship. Turmeric also signifies protection, so the haldi ceremony could be interpreted as a way to protect the couple as they enter into the next phase of their life.
The physical reason for the ceremony is that turmeric has well-known skincare qualities. It is a known anti-inflammatory, and so those properties are sure to help with blemishes and leave the skin fair and glowing. While this isn’t the primary purpose of the ceremony, it’s a nice side benefit.
On the subject of that physical benefit, after the haldi ceremony, when the paste is being washed off, it can help to remove dead cells and detoxify the skin. It is also proven to be an exfoliating agent, an important part of a good skincare routine. Apart from the beautification properties that turmeric has, it can also help to soothe the nerves of the bride and groom on their big day. It is known to boost immunity and soothe an upset stomach, so these benefits may help to give the happy couple a boost before they are married.
The colour of turmeric also has an important part in the ceremonies on a wedding day. The colour yellow is often worn on the wedding day in order to bring prosperity to the couple, and it is for this reason that turmeric is valued too.
The makeup of the substance that is painted onto the bride and groom changes from family to family. For some, the turmeric is mixed with sandalwood powder and milk. In others, it is mixed with rose water. The reason for these differences are endless, and they often boil down to simple faith in tradition. If your parents, for example, used rose water in their haldi ceremony, then you might want to as well.
While the sacred turmeric paste is plentiful and on hand, the bride and groom may paint some of their friends and family with it, too. Typically, the paste will be painted onto unmarried siblings and friends for luck. It is said that whoever gets touched by the paint will have luck, and find a good-looking partner soon.
Returning to the power of the spiritual benefits in the haldi ceremony, many people believe that it will protect the couple on their happy day. Most people believe that haldi has the power to ward off evil spirits from affecting the bride and groom. This benefit is helpful at all times, but especially so on such a holy day as the wedding day. For this reason, the bride and groom are typically not allowed to leave their home after the haldi ceremony, until their wedding muhrart. In some versions of the traditional haldi ceremony, a sacred red thread is tied, or the couple is presented with small amulets of protection against the evil eye. These small traditions of luck are steeped in folklore and powerful stories, and they all serve one purpose: to protect the bride and groom on their wedding day, and as they enter the next phase of their life.
Turmeric and it’s bright yellow colour hold a special place in Indian wedding traditions. Black is actually considered to be unlucky, so the bright yellow will help to alleviate that and bring luck and happiness to the couple getting married. As with any other Indian ritual, the Haldi ceremony is celebrated with an explosion of colour, as well as plenty of laughter, giggles, pomp, and excitement.