Yes, the world over we agree that love is grand indeed. But the many rituals surrounding love are quite distinct, as I had the awesome fortune to witness firsthand during my two-week trip to India for a family wedding.
No, it was not an arranged marriage, but rather, a “love marriage”, which is much more common nowadays. Leading up to a Hindu marriage, the engagement is just the beginning of a long line of significant events that are part of the whole tying-the-knot process (I’m pretty sure there’s no translatable equivalent of that term, by the way). A wedding is several days long with lots of pre- and post-ceremony events of import, and the bride and groom are going through separate preparation rituals at their respective homes during much of it, with families and loved ones attending all the while.
I haven’t been to more than a handful of American weddings, but it seems like there are just a few elaborate rituals garnering comparable detail and focus: the engagement (and the ring), the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding day (singular). Everything else goes on behind the scenes and isn’t necessarily mandatory or prescribed (e.g. premarital counseling, engagement party). Other than the Big Day, family members and close friends don’t share in as much.
There’s certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with less ritual or at least less public ritual, but witnessing an Indian wedding was such a beautiful contrast (not to mention EXHAUSTING, even as a spectator!) to weddings I’ve attended here in the States. Just something to think about!