Suhag Raat (Hindi: सुहाग रात, Urdu: سہاگ رات, Bengali: ফুলশয্যা), a significant ritual in the life of a newlywed couple yes m8in the Indian subcontinent, refers to the first night when the marriage is consummated. Prior to then, both the bride and bridegroom are assumed to be virgins. The bed of the newlywed couple is decorated with flowers, which are believed to bring sweetness to their relationship. This is an important custom followed in Vedic Hindu marriages. The tradition also extends to Jains, Buddhism, and Muslims. In some areas, especially in eastern India, "Suhag Raat" is also referred to as "Fourth Night" because this ritual is observed on the fourth night of marriage, of the wedding.
The female members of the bridegroom's family customarily guide the bride to the decorated bedroom where she waits for her husband's arrival—optionally, with a glass of milk.  The couple's bed is decorated with roses, jasmine and rajnigandha flowers. It is traditional for the groom to wait outside with the relatives and family for some time before he joins the bride in the decorated bedroom. The bride supposedly waits for her husband behind a veil ("ghoonghat"). The husband slowly takes the veil off to reveal the bride's face in a ritual called "Muh Dekhai" i.e. showing of bride's face. After consummation, the wife is also known as "Ardhangini" in Hindu Philosophy. It is customary that the couple wakes up early next morning before anyone else, bathe, and change their clothing. The clothing worn the previous night is considered dirty, so the dhobi customarily arrives the next morning to collect them for cleaning. The Suhag Raat may extend to a honeymoon tour.
Changing customs in contemporary India
Contemporary India has undergone significant changes in terms of economic growth and exposure to the outside world. More Indians than before are travelling outside the country and are exposed to the dating culture. The proliferation of dating apps also points to an expanding subset of the population want to find love on their own. Access to better education and healthcare has also contributed to a delay in the age at which men and women get married and greater say in partner choice.
This changing trend has resulted in couples bending the Suhag Raat rituals to suit their needs. Some of these changes include not consummating the relationship on the wedding night and instead choosing to do it at a future date when they are comfortable with each other, organising the wedding night at a hotel instead of the bride's home, doing away with the veil and instead wearing comfortable night dress or undergarments that suit the occasion.
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