Indian wedding ceremony
It's is a collection of rituals performed by the
bride, bridegroom and their respective parents and close relatives. The priest
chants "mantras" from the Vedas that were originally written in Sanskrit. He
will also use the following in his ceremonies:
Fresh flowers - to signify beauty;
Coconut - to signify fertility;
Rice, jaggery and other grains - to signify the food necessary for
sustenance of human life;
Ghee (purified butter) - to feed the sacred fire;
Kumkum (vermilion) - red powder used for marking the forehead to signify
good luck and to say that your soul (husband) is with you.
The major stages of the Hindu Ceremony:
The wedding day starts with a prayer invoking Lord Ganesh
whose divine grace dispel all evils and promotes a successful and peaceful
completion of the ceremony.
Grah Shanti (Worship to the Nine Planets)
This is a prayer to the nine
planets of our Solar system. Ancient Indian studies indicated that various
celestial bodies have an influence on the destiny of every individual. The
effect of the nine planets is meant to be the most profound. During this puja
the Gods associated with these planets are asked to infuse courage, peace of
mind and inner strength to the bride and groom to help them endure life's
The Welcome (Parchan)
The bride's mother welcomes the bridegroom with a
garland and she then escorts him to the mandap. The father of the bride washes
the right foot of the bridegroom with milk and honey. At the end of the welcome,
a white sheet is held to prevent this bridegroom seeing the arrival of the
Arrival of the Bride
The bride is escorted to the mandap by her maternal
uncle (Mama), female cousins and friends. In some wedding ceremonies she may be
carried in a small carriage to the mandap.
Kanyadaan (Entrusting of the Daughter)
Consent of the parents is obtained
for the wedding to proceed. The bride's parents give their daughter to the groom
by putting the bride's right hand into the groom's right hand (Hastamelap,
joining of hands) while reciting sacred verse. The curtain separating the bride
and groom is then lowered and the couple exchange flower garlands. The elders of
the house place an auspicious white cotton cord around the couple's shoulder's
to protect them from the evil influences. This also symbolises the couple's
bond. The groom holds the bride's hand and they both take vows to love cherish
and protect each other throughout life.
Ganthibandhan (tying the knot)
The priest ties the wedding knot as a
symbol of the permanent union between the bride and groom as husband and wife.
Agni Puja (evocation of the holy fire)
The priest sets up a small fire in
a kund (cooper bowl). Agni (fire) is the mouth of Vishnu and symbolises the
illumination of mind, knowledge and happiness. The remainder of the ceremony is
conducted around the fire.
Shilarohana (stepping on the stone)
The bride places her right foot on a
stone. The bridegroom tells her to be as firm as the stone in his house so that
the can face their enemies and the difficulties of life together.
Laja homa (putting parched rice into the sacred fire)
are offered to the sacred fire. The brother of the bride puts into the bride's
hand parched rice, half of which slips into the bridegroom's hand. Mantras are
chanted. The bride prays to Yama, the God of Death, that he grant long life,
health, happiness and prosperity to the bridegroom.
Mangalfera (walking around the fire)
The couple walk around the sacred
fire four times. Each time they stop to touch with their toe a stone in their
path. This symbolises obstacles in life that they will overcome together. These
four rounds stand for the four basic human goals:
Dharma - righteousness
Artha - monetary accomplishment
Kama - energy
and passion in life
Moksha - liberation from everything in life.
groom, signifying his contribution in helping the union to attain dharma, artha
and kama, leads the first three rounds. The bride signifying their continual
journey spiritual liberation leads the last round.
Saptapadi (seven steps)
The bride and groom take seven steps together
around the fire. It is said in Hindu philosophy that if two people walk seven
steps together then they will remain lifelong friends. They exchange sacred vows
at the beginning of each encircling walk. At the end of each walk, the open
palms of the bride are filled with puffed rice by her brother signifying wealth
and prosperity. The seven steps and their promises are:
Let us take the first step to provide for our household, keeping a pure diet
and avoiding those things that might harm us.
Let us take the second step to
develop our physical, mental and spiritual powers.
Let us take our third
step to increase our wealth by righteous and proper means.
Let us take out
fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love, respect
Let us take the fifth step so that we may be blessed with strong,
virtuous and heroic children.
Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint
Let us take the seventh step to be true companions and remain
life-long partners by this wedlock.
Saubhagya Chinha (blessing the
The bridegroom blesses the bride by putting kumkum or sindhur
(vermilion powder) at the parting of her hair (or on her forehead) and by giving
her a sacred necklace (Mangal Sutra). The Mangal Sutra represents the couple's
togetherness, love and sacred union.
Haridaya-Sparsha (touching of hearts)
The bride and bridegroom touch each
other's heart reciting promises to each other.
The bride and groom feed each other four times for
nourishment of the bone, muscle, skin and soul.
The priest blesses the bride and groom. Flower
petals and rice are given to the guests to shower them on the bride and groom
with blessings. The wedding guests can then give their individuals blessings to
the bride and groom and once completed, the marriage ceremony ends. Guests are
invited to enjoy a sumptuous meal with the newlyweds.
Viddai (Bride's departure)
The farewell to the bride by her family and
friends is a very emotional episode. The bride is leaving her parents home to
build a life with her husband and his family. She leaves with tears of joy and