The Hindu Marriage Ceremony

Traditional Hindu wedding customs originated centuries ago.  Each ritual of the ceremony has deep philosophical purpose.  The ceremony is performed in Sanskrit, the most ancient surviving language.

Dwarachar – Welcoming of the bridegroom

The bridegroom arrives at the entrance of the wedding hall with his family and friends in a procession where the bride’s family and friends warmly greet him.  the bride’s parents then escort him to the Mandap (the wedding canopy).  The bride is also escorted in the Mandap either by her maternal uncle or her father.

Mangalashtak – Invocation of the Gods

Under the Mandap, the priest invokes the presence of the Gods to sanctify the ceremonial site and the surroundings; and to bless the occasion and people assembled.  the priest states that the wedding has the sanction of the elders, the friends of the two families and the community at large aand that the bride and groom enter this union in full knowledge of its’ responsibilities.

Hastamelap and Kandyadan – the offer of the hand in marriage

The bride and groom offer garlands to each other.  In the presence of the Gods, the bride’s parents tell the groom; “On this auspicious day we give away our daughter who is a symbol of Lakshmi (the Goddess of Prosperity) to you in the presence of the Gods, friends and relatives.”  The couple is united by placing the right hand of the bride in the groom’s right hand.  The ends of scarves worn by the bride and groom are tied together signifying unity and support for each other.

Ganeshpujan – Worship by the couple

The bride and groom begin their new life together by first offering prayers to Lord Ganesh – the obstacle remover form of God.

Agnisthapan – Lighting the Fire

The wedding is solemnized in front of Agni (the sacred fire), the symbol of light, energy, and purity as the principal witness to the ceremony. The couple learns to feed it, pacify it, and resolve to protect it.

Mangalfera (pradakshina) – Circling around the Holy Fire

The couple circles around the fire, symbolizing the walk of life while seeking the goals of good human life.  The goals are: 

  1. Dharma – Moral sense and duties to lead a good life
  2. Artha – Prosperity to make happy life possible
  3. Kama – Physical satisfactions to lead a full life
  4. Moksha – Detachment from wordly things and the attainment of a state of Grace

Saptapadi – Seven Steps of Marriage Vows

The couple steps upon seven mounds of rice, each representing a hill to be striven for and attained.  While on this quest, these vows are recited.

  1. All of your pleasures and all your pain you will divide with me.  I take this first step with you, for where you are there I will be.
  2. The family and its interests I will protect.  Where you are unhappy, I will not be satisfied.
  3. Forever devoted to you and to religious duties I will be.   To remain sweet and even-tempered I take this third step with you.
  4. A sharer of your joys and sorrows, opposed to your oppressors I will remain.  As i will abide by your wishes I take this fourth step with you.
  5. I will await your physical needs and in dalliance with others I will not engage, so I take this fifth step with you.
  6. May this Fire, the Spark of the Lord, be a witness that committed to honesty, never will I cheat upon you – either in word or in deed.  And this I own in the sixth step.
  7. A help in humane and religious work I will be, ready to lessen suffering and promote the human good; and this I affirm in this seventh step.

MANGAL SUTRA – RING EXCHANGE – SINDOOR

Kansarbhakshan – Nourishing the relationship

The bride’s mother brings out some sweets for the couple.  The groom feeds the bride four times and then the bride returns the compliment.  while they feed each other, the priest announces the resolutions:

  1. I will feed you with all my soul
  2. I feed you with all my bones
  3. I feed you with all my flesh
  4. I feed you with all my skin

This signifies their total commitment and devotion to each other.

Akhand Saubhagyavati – Blessings from married women

Married women of their families and some of their select friends bless the bride, wishing her well in her new life and transferring their wisdom to her.

Ashirvad – Priest’s Blessings

While involking the good will of God, the Priest blesses the couple by showering the couple with rice, the seed of nourishment.

The ceremony concludes with the couple offering respects to the parents and elderly relatives thereby receiving blessings from them.

***Kuryat Sada Mangalam – Blessings Forever***

Published on August 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm  Comments Off on The Hindu Marriage Ceremony  
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