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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Hindu Wedding Custom

Hindu wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted at least partially in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted. The local language of the people involved is also used since most Hindus cannot understand Sanskrit. Hindu weddings involves many rituals that differ from region to region due to traditions based on regions, families and castes. Also due to the evolution of times from the traditional wedding custom to the modern western wedding ceremony, Hindu weddings today are not all the same.

One ritual though is the same in all Hindu weddings, and that is the primary witness of a Hindu marriage, which is the fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni. By Hindu law and tradition, no Hindu marriage is deemed complete unless in the presence of the Sacred Fire, and seven encirclements have been made around it by the bride and the groom together. The wedding is normally conducted under a mandap, a canopy traditionally with four pillars, and an important component of the ceremony is the sacred fire (Agni) that is witness to the ceremony.

The main steps involved in a traditional Hindu wedding are as follows:

Engagement

The engagement, involving vagdana or oral agreement and lagna-patra written declaration, commences with the arrival of the groom's party at the bride's residence, often in the form of a formal procession.

Aarti

The 'baraatis' (groom's party) are received by the bride's family and at the entrance to the wedding venue. The bride's mother welcomes the groom by performing the 'aarti' (traditional Indian welcome ritual with a lamp or 'diya' placed on a platter or 'thali') to welcome her son-in-law and placing a tilak on his forehead.

Hathlewa

After being led to the wedding mandup, the bride and groom have their hands tied together. The Panditji does a puja to Lord Ganesh and then puts a coin & mehendi on the groom’s right hand where the round empty spot is (where no mehendi was put) and ties his hand with the brides. This puja is done schedule in advance based on an auspicious time & date.

Havan

The ritual connotes the actual core wedding ceremony, for the very meaning of the word "vivaah" is-marriage. The priest ties the end of the groom's dhoti or the kurta; whichever he is wearing, with that of the bride's saree, the knot signifying the sacred wedlock. The groom and the bride then circle the holy fire seven times, making seven promises to be fulfilled in the married life, after which they are considered to be 'married' to each other. This ritual is called "phere".

Saptapadi

The bridegroom gets up from his seat holding his bride's right hand. He then goes around the Holy Fire (Agni) from the right side, by lifting his bride's right foot at each step. This is done for seven steps. With each step, he recites a mantra addressed to the bride with the following meaning.

Let Lord Maha Vishnu follow each one of your steps for the following specific purposes.

:To give you unlimited food.
:To give you excellent health and energy.
:Todained in Vedas, during your life time.
:To give you happiness in life.
:To make your cows and good animals to grow in strength and in numbers.
:To make all the seasons be beneficial to you.
:To make the homams (sacrifices to be done in Holy Fire) to be performed by you in your life as ordained in Vedas, successful and free from hindrances.

The idea behind this is to pray to Lord Vishnu, the protector of life, for his blessings in marital life. The groom then recites a mantra to convey the following meaning:

After crossing seven steps with me thus, you should become my friend. I too have become your friend now. I will never discard this friendship and you should also not do that. Let us be together always. Let us resolve to do things in life in the same manner and tread the same path. Let us lead a life by liking and loving each other, having good hearts and thoughts, and enjoying the food and our strong points together. Let us have undivided opinions. We will perform the vrithas united. Let us have same and joint desires. I will be Sama (one of the vedas); you will be Rig (another Veda). Let me be the Heaven; you be the Earth. Let me be the Shukla (Moon) and you be its wearer. Let me be the mind and you its spokesman (Vak). With these qualities, you be my follower. You the sweet tongued, come to me to get good male children and wealth.

Kanya Daan

Kanya Daan is performed by the father of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding.

The father pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bride groom. The groom recites Vedic hymns to Kama, the god of love, for pure love and blessings.

As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride requests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends : dharma, artha, and kama. The groom makes the promise by repeating three times that he will not fail the bride in realizing dharma, artha and kama.

Vidaai


This is considered to be the most emotional ritual, when the bride leaves her parents' home and makes her way to her husband's. Family and friends, who also shower her with blessings and gifts, give her a tearful farewell. The male members of the bride's family bid farewell to the groom by applying the traditional 'tilak' (vermilion) on his forehead and shower him with gifts.

Information obtained from Wikipedia.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool. Nice pics!

May 28, 2008 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Indian Proposal Team said...

Well, the credit goes eleswhere. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to the original site where we got them. Thanks.

May 29, 2008 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger charms said...

this is a great article! i'm doing my wedding program now and these explanations will help our Sri Lankan guests a lot! :)

June 16, 2008 at 5:40 PM  

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