Hindu Wedding Ceremony

A Hindu Marriage Celebration (October, 2003)

Ever wonder about other wedding ceremonies and traditions? They’re all uniquely beautiful in joining two people in holy wedlock. Today, come explore with PrescottWeddings.com the wedding ceremony of a Hindu Bride and Groom, where two souls are brought into a spiritual, mental and physical union through the sacred bond of matrimony. Rich in symbolism and culture, the Bride and Groom are no longer two independent beings but rather are one integrated being united by the firm resolve to fulfill each other in all aspects of life. Marriage is considered a promise that two souls are made to love each other endlessly with God as their witness.

The Barat is the festive entrance of the Groom. The Groom rides to the marriage ceremony on horseback accompanied by his family and friends dancing. When the Barat reaches the Milni (meeting point), the elders of both families meet and the Groom’s side of the family is welcomed in the traditional way of garlands and Aarti (sacred lamps).

After the Groom’s family has been welcomed, the Jaimala (greetings) commences. This is where the Bride arrives following her close friends and sisters. She is escorted by a male member of her family, many times by her mother’s brother. The Bride and Groom exchange flower garlands. It symbolizes respect for one another and is a promise to share everything in life with each other. Together, the couple approaches the Mandap (marriage altar).

At the Mandap, the Bride’s family receives the Groom through the Madhuperka (reception of the Groom). The Bride’s parents honor the Groom by giving him a glass of Mandhuparka containing honey, curd, ghee and saffron to inspire the Groom’s heart for a sweet beginning of married life.

Following the Madhuperka is the Kanya Grahan (acceptance of the Bride). The Bride’s father places the hand of his beloved daughter into the Groom’s hand. The mother of the Bride confirms her assent by pouring sacred water on the couple’s hands. The priest recites the Sankalp (pledge) in Sanskrit.

Thus starts the beginning of the service known as the Havan-Yajna (lighting the Sacred Fire). The sacred flame is lit to commence the ceremony. Agni (fire) symbolizes light, knowledge and power. It is the greatest purifier. The fire acts as a witness to the ceremony and conveys that sanctity cannot be revoked.

The Panigrahan and Pratijyna are the sacred vows. The Groom stands before the Bride, holds her hand and solemnly pledges before God, reciting six mantras (vows), that they have become one. He promises to love and remain devoted to her for the rest of their lives. The Bride stands and joins the Groom in promising that they will pursue the four ends of human existence: the Dharma (righteousness), Arth (prosperity), Kama (enjoyment), and Moksha (spiritual illumination).

After the Panigrahan and Pratijyna, the Bride’s foot is placed on a piece of rock and the Bride promises to be firm like the rock, steadfast in love and in physical strength. This is referred to as the Shilaroban (vow of steadfastness).

To solemnize the vows with fire, known as Pradakshina and Laja Homa, the Bride and Groom hold hands and walk around the sacred fire four times, dedicating themselves to the observance of the sacred vows. The Bride and Groom put parched rice into the sacred fire and recite a hymn, praying for their long life and happiness. The ends of the Bride and Groom’s scarves are tied together, symbolizing their union.

Following the Pradakshina, the Saptapadi is the seven steps taken by the Bride and Groom together reflecting the beginning of their journey through life. As they walk, they express their duties as husband and wife:
•    The first step is for nourishment and healthy living.
•    The second step is for developing strength of mind and body.
•    The third step is for acquiring immense wealth by righteous means.
•    The fourth step is for acquiring happiness and harmony by mutual love and trust.
•    The fifth step is for receiving blessings with a strong and virtuous union.
•    The sixth step is for restraint and longevity.
•    The seventh step is for lifelong companionship.

With that, the Purnahuti completes the marriage ceremony of Havan-Yajna.

To reflect the symbol of marital status, the Sindoor, the Bride changes seats with the Groom. The Groom puts a pinch of Sindoor (red powder) in the Bride’s parted hair and welcomes her as his eternal partner for life. The priest offers his blessing and good wishes to the couple (Arshirvaada) and declares them husband and wife, concluding with a prayer for peace and prosperity (Shanti Path).

It is common that the final ceremonial event of a Hindu wedding is performed shortly after the marriage ceremony. The Vidai/Doli is the touching and emotional farewell to the Bride by her family. Before departing, the couple asks for blessings and bids farewell to the Bride’s relations as the Bride begins a new phase in her life as a wife, becoming an integral part of her husband’s family.