Many Indian weddings, especially Hindu and Jain ceremonies, take place under a structure made of four posts known as a mandap. In the Hindu tradition, the four posts represent the four elements: earth, wind, fire, and water. At Jain weddings there is a ceremony known as Mada Mandap that takes place to sanctify the space before the couple and their family members enter the mandap for the ceremony.
The mandap is considered a holy space and, therefore, shoes aren’t to be worn inside it. As such, there’s a tradition called Joota Chupai wherein “when the groom reaches the Mandap, he must remove his shoes to enter, as everything in the Mandap is considered holy, so no shoes are to be worn,” explains Amarjit Keshav, a certified destination wedding specialist with Destination Weddings Travel Group. “This is the golden opportunity for the brides’ sisters, cousins, etc. (all females) to steal the groom’s shoes! It is a fun tradition, and he will not get his shoes back unless he pays the girls some money to retrieve them afterward.”