Hindi Wedding Ceremony Explained
This page will explain what is happening during the hindi wedding ceremony.
According to the text of Manusmati every Hindu life has 16 Sanskars (Sacrament). These sanskars make an individual's life noble and prosperous. The 13th is marriage. It is a ceremony where two souls are joined spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, in the sacred bond of matrimony. Marriage enables both man and woman to find their partners in life. The characteristic traits of 2 individuals are thereby transmitted to their progeny. Whilst providing discipline, marriage enables individuals to satisfy their emotional and physical needs in a religious and socially acceptable way.
The ceremony which you will see today is a modern interpretation of a collection of ancient and traditional rituals, which have been adapted over centuries to suit varying beliefs, family customs and to fit in with modern life. The bride, bridegroom, their families take part in this ceremony. Many rituals will have taken place before the wedding day itself. One of these rituals is the anointing of the bride and groom with a paste made of turmeric powder, saffron, herbs and curds. The mixture was massaged all over the body and is meant to tone the muscles, strengthen the bones and improve the appearance of the skin in preparation for marriage. This custom is only performed a day or two before the wedding.
The majority of the ceremonies take place in the mandap, the four-post structure on the stage. During the ceremony the Brahmin (priest) chants various mantras from the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures). He will use the following during the ceremonies:
Fresh flowers To signify beauty
Coconuts To signify fertility
Rice, Brown sugar To signify food, necessary and other grains for the sustenance of human life
Ghee To feed sacred fire
Kumkum (red powder) To signify good luck
The priest and Chandrikas family offers their prayer to Lord Ganesh. No other Gods will accept any offerings before Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom and broad mindedness.
Sambela (Greeting from sister)
This is the welcoming of Sukhjinderjit and his party by Chandrikas older sister Rita; she carries a small pot with a coconut on the top. She brings this to Sukhjinderjit and he will put 7 beetle nuts with money into the pot for good luck and acceptance into Chandrikas family. Then Chandrikas mother will lead him to the mandap.
At the entrance of the marriage hall, Sukhjinderjit worships God at the toran (a plaque with a swastik placed at the entrance to the mandap), for the well being and prosperity of the guests.
Yagnopavitr sanskar (sacred thread ceremony) is performed by the priest who recites Vedic mantras. This denotes the completion of Sukhjinderjits education period and readiness to enter into marriage life.
Kanyadan (Giving of the Bride)
The consent of Chandrikas parents is obtained for wedding to proceed. They place Chandrikas right hand into Sukhjinderjit right hand and say, "Please accept this well dressed, well mannered girl named Chandrika born in our family, as your wife". Sukhjinderjit says "I accept her and will live with her in matrimony with sweetness and love for one hundred years and will look after her to best of my ability".
Vastra Granthi (Tying of the knot)
A shawl is draped from Sukhjinderjits shoulder and tied to Chandrikas sari. This is the tying of the holy knot ceremony, making the bride and groom come together spiritually before physically.
Havan Yajna (Vedic Prayer)
Vedic hymns are chanted invoking God's blessing, guidance and wisdom. A sacred fire is lit and offerings are made to it signifying sacrifice of lust, greed, anger, ego and jealousy. Fire is the symbol of strength and progress. It removes ignorance from the mind.
"May we always aim at the bright side of life. May the fragrant herbs offered into the fire, purify the atmosphere. May the Lord lead us from darkness to light".
Hast Melap (Joining of hands)
The bridegroom takes the hand of the bride and both take a pledge before the sacred fire and the assembled guests to remain true, faithful and loyal to each other. They declare Let all present here know that our hearts have united together, like water. Let the air we breathe, let god, let Saraswati (Goddess of learning) keep us joined until death".
Both of them say "You and I accept each other with intelligence and love. Let us live happily together, raise noble children and attain happiness and prosperity".
The vows taken by the couple are for creating an ideal family and home. Both must co-operate and fulfil their duties. Briefly they pledge the following to each other: -
I take your hand for prosperity, good children and happiness. Live with me happily until old age. The creator of the universe, the learned men and elders assembled here, entrust you to my care for the fulfilment of conjugal life.
I accept your hand for our common welfare. May you live long with me in love, concord and understanding. From today let us surrender ourselves to each other and never be unkind or unloving to each other.
Having followed the path of righteousness I hold your hand. I now become your husband and you are my wife.
Having lived an upright life, today I become your wife. Together with you, 1 will do my duties of married life.
The sustainer of the universe has placed you in my charge for your maintenance. May you enjoy one hundred years of joyful life with me.
With the grace of God, I have accepted you as my husband today. In this world nothing shall be dearer to me than you.
With knowledge received from learned men, we become today husband and wife in God's creation. May the creator of the universe bless us with noble children.
Agni Parikrama (walking around the fire)
This is the most important part of the ceremony. All Hindus believe that the moon protects the Bride for the first 7 years of her life; followed by the sun for the next 7 years and then, the following 7 years Agni (fire) is the custodian. This continues in this cycle. Therefore, Chandrika and Sukhjinderjit have to perform Agni Parikrama, walking around 4 times-the first 3 led by Sukhjinderjit and the 4th led by Chandrika.
Saptapadi (taking 7 steps together)
Chandrika and Sukhjinderjit take 7 steps to invoke the blessing of various gods:
• First step for pure and nourishing food
• Second step for strength and to develop physical, mental and spiritual powers.
• Third step for wealth and prosperity earned by righteous means.
• Forth step for knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love and trust.
• Fifth step for noble, virtuous and heroic children.
• Sixth step for self-restraint and longevity
• Seventh step for understanding, loyalty companionship and unity.
Changing of seat
The bride now takes her scat to the left of her husband, thus remaining nearer to his heart.
Sindoor and Blessing by the bridegroom
The bridegroom puts sindoor (vermillion powder) in the hair parting of the bride and says, "This bride is my auspicious wife come to bless her and meet us".
Vidaai (leaving ceremony)
In Hindu philosophy, happiness and sadness are 2 sides of the same coin. At the end of the day, Chandrikas family and friends bid her an emotional farewell. Chandrika is leaving her parents and family home where she was raised and educated, to start a new life with Sukhjinderjit and his family. She leaves with tears of joy and sorrow, and carries the best wishes of all whom witnessed her marriage and shared the day with her.
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