Hindu Marriage Ceremony
The Hindu marriage ceremony is over 5,000 years old. The hindu marriage ceremony is performed in the presence of a sacred fire and an assembly of family and friends.
The ceremony is usually performed in teh following sequence:
- Baraat or Swagat
- Jutta Churai
- Kanyan Daan & Hasta Melap
- Mangal Fera
- Mangalsutra, Sindhoor Daan & Hirdaya Sparsga
- Akhand Sauubhagyavati Bhava and Ashirvad
We shall now briefly explain some of the elements in a Hindu wedding ceremony as in the above sequences.
Baraat or Swagat meaning the arrival of the groom accompanied by his family and friends who will be singing and dancing as they proceed their way to the wedding hall or temple.
Swagatam meaning the welcoming the Groom and his family and friends in a procession. The groom is treated to a welcome ritual at the entrance by the bride’s mother and is then escorted to the mandap (a temporary structure of four pillars).
Jutta Churai is where the priest asks the Groom to remove his shoes before entering the mandap. The Bride’s family will then have to steal the shoes (for fun) somehow whilst the Groom’s family will protect them. By the end of the wedding, if the shoes are stolen, the Groom must offer the new family money or gifts to retreive them.
Kanya Daan & Hasta Melap is the tradition of Giving the bride and joining of hands. The bride is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncles. Bride’s father then gives his daughter to the Grrom in marriage, witnessed by the fire God. The Kanya Daan (giving of the bride) is the hightest form of gift that parents can offer. The ends of Bride’s and Groom’s garement’s are tied together with betel nuts, copper coins and rice symbolising unity and eternal bond of marriage. The priest then kindles the fire and the couple make nine offerings to the fire to ask for removal of darkness and any ignorance.
Mangal Fera means circling the sacred fire in the mandap. The couple walk around the fire four times which signify the last fours stages of life, these are:
- Dharma : Righeousness
- Artha: Monetary accomplishment
- Karma : Energy and passion for life
- Moksha : Liberation from everything in life.
The groom leads for the first three rounds and the bride completes the last round signifying balance and completion. The bride’s brothers (and/or cousins) witness the rounds and place rice grains in her hands to signify that they will provide support and protection for their sister. At the end of the fourth round, there is a rush by the Bride and Groom to get to their seat. It is said that whoever sits down first rules the house!
Mangalsutra, Sindhoor Daan & Hirdaya Sparsha is the act of putting on a sacred necklace and proclamation of marriage. The Groom offers the Bride, a life long protection by giving her the Mangalsutra, a sacred necklace made with black beads with gold, then placing sindhoor (vermillion – a red powder) on the crown of her forehead. The two offerings signify the mark of a married woman and act as a symbol of the Groom’s devotion to the Bride. The couple then offer each other traditional sweets. The Bride and Groom then place their right hand on each other’s hearts signifying oneness in mind, body and soul.
Saptapadi meaning Seven steps and Seven vows. These are:
- Step One – Together we live with honor and respect, providing the necessities of life for each other and our family memebers.
- Step Two – Together we will develop mental, physical and spirtual balance.
- Step Three – Together we will acquire wealth by righeous and proper means.
- Step Four – Together we wukk acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony through mutual love, trust and respect for our elders.
- Step Five – Together we will raise strong and virtous children.
- Step Six – Together we will maintain self restraint and longevity.
- Step Seven – Together we will be sincere, faithful and true to each other in sharing life’s happiness and sorrows. We will be true companions, remain life long partners and gain salvation beyond this.
Akhand Sauubhagyavati Bhava and Ashirvad means Blessing the newly wed couple. Tradionally, four married women of the family whisper in Bride’s right ear, wishing her a long and happy married life. The couple then receive blessings from the priest.
Vidai – the final ceremony. This is a sad occassion as the Bride’s family bid her farewell as she leaves her parent’s home to begin a new life with her husband. She leaves with tears of joy and sorrow, carrying the very best of wishes of all that witnessed the marriage ceremony. As they depart, the Bride’s sister(s) try to stop the car from leaving by placing their hands on the bonnet so that their new brother-in-law asks their permission to take the Bride away with him. With their permission, he offers money or gifts a token. However, before the wedding car departs, the priest places a coconut under the front wheel and waits for it to be broken under the weight of the car. This is to ensure a safe journey and to bless the start of their newly married life.
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