Marriage Rituals

In Hindu Dharma Marriage is a life long commitment of a husband and a wife with each other and is the strongest bond that takes place between a man and a woman According to Hindu Sastra there are four stages of life and the second stage is Grahastha Ashram (the householder stage), which signifies married life and it begins when a man and a woman come together and marry. In Hindu view, marriage is not a concession to human weakness, but a means for spiritual growth. Man and woman are soul mates who, through the institution of marriage, can direct the energy associated with their individual instincts and passion into the progress of their souls. The Hindus attach a lot of importance to weddings and the ceremonies are very colourful and extend for several days.

Engagement/Sagai

In this ceremony the girl and boy exchange wedding rings among each other. Sweets and garlands are exchanged among the couple. On this day special, arrangements for dinner is also done for the friends and relatives who gathers to wish the couple.

Mehandi

After engagement the next important ritual is the mehndi party. The bride's family and friends mainly celebrate this ceremony. The female friends and family members of the bride celebrate this occasion by painting henna on bride's hand and feet and on each other while the rest of the family celebrates by singing and dancing. The color of mehndi signifies the essence of love in a marriage so it is put on bride's hand to strengthen that bond of love.

Saptapadi

Marriage knot symbolized by tying one end of the groom's scarf with the bride's dress. Then they take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.

Grih Puja/Haldihaath

Ghari puja is also another important religious ceremony, which is performed on the eve of the wedding day at the groom and bride's place separately. In many regions ghari puja is combined with Pithi the cleansing ceremony during which the bride and bridegroom are pasted with turmeric powder in a beautification process.

Sangeet

Among the other important rituals are Sangeet parties where all the family members and friends of the bride and groom celebrate by singing and dancing the night away. Along with song and dance there are arrangements for food and drink.

Tilak Ceremony

It is put on the forehead using Kumkum, a red turmeric powder. The male members of the bride's family place a tilak on the forehead of the groom.

Barat departure

The groom leaves for the wedding venue riding a decorated horse. This is a very colorful and grand ceremony. The groom is dressed in a sherwani (long jacket) and 'churidars' (fitted trousers). On his head he wears a 'safa' (turban) with a 'kalgi' (brooch) tied onto it.

Var Mala

In this ceremony the groom and bride exchange garlands (these are the "var mala") signifying their acceptance of each other as husband and wife.

Vara Satkaarah

Function of the bridegroom and his kinsmen at the entrance gate of the wedding hall where the officiating priest chants a few mantras and the bride's mother blesses the groom with rice and trefoil and applies tilak of vermilion and turmeric powder.

Pani-Grahan

The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left hand and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife.

Saat Phere / Wedding Vows

The couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act as well custom.
1. With the first step, the couple invokes the gods for plenty of pure and nourishing food.
2. With the second step, the couple prays to the Gods to give them the mental, physical and spiritual strength to lead a healthy life.
3. Couples pray "let us share joys and pains together. Let us walk together so we get wealth.
4. With the fourth step, the bride and groom invoke the gods:- Let us walk together so we get happiness by sharing our joys and sorrows.
5. With the fifth step, they pray." Let us observe all acts of charity. Let us walk together so we have family,"
6. With the sixth step, they ask the gods to give them a long, joyous life and togetherness forever.
7. With the seventh, and last, step, the couple prays for understanding, companionship, loyalty and unity. "Let us be friends with love and sacrifice.
8. After the seventh step, the groom says to the bride: "With seven steps we have become friends. Let me reach your friendship. Let me not be severed from your friendship. Let your friendship not be severed from me." Only after the 7 steps, are the couple pronounced husband and wife.

Kanya Daan

The bride's father gives away his daughter to the groom amidst the chanting of sacred mantras.

Vidaai

Before the bride leaves for her marital home, she either lights a 'mitti ka diya' (earthen lamp) in her parents home or turns on all the lights.
What follows is the most touching and sensitive ritual of Hindu weddings, the 'lajahom'. 'Laja' or 'phulian' is puffed rice (a sign of prosperity), which the bride has to take in both her hands and shower on all her family over the top of her head. She does this all the way to the palanquin or decorated car, which is waiting to take her to her new home. By doing this she is repaying all her debts to her parents for having looked after her all these years.

Griha Pravesh

When the bride arrives at her new home, her mother-in-law, who welcomes her with the traditional 'Aarti'.. At the entrance, she puts her right foot onto a tray of vermilion powder mixed in water or milk, symbolizing the arrival of good fortune and purity. With both her feet now covered in the red powder paste, she kicks over a vessel filled with rice and coins to denote the arrival of fertility and wealth in her marital home.

Muh Dikhai

Literally translated this means the 'showing of the bride' to the groom's family members, but in reality it is actually a form of introduction. The mother-in-law showers her 'bahu' (daughter-in-law) with jewellery, clothes and money at this time. The other close relatives of the family also offer her gifts and money.