A Hindu wedding entails a magnificent medley of customs, colourful in their demeanour, elaborate in their practice and holding significance, which have been there since time immemorial.
These customs and rituals have their base in the Vedas and are accompanied by chanting of mantras in Sanskrit. These mantras are considered to be the harbinger of happiness, love and prosperity for the married couple. Here are some of the customs of a Hindu marriage beginning with the pre-wedding and culminating in the post-wedding customs.
A typical Hindu marriage begins with the Misri or Engagement or Ring Ceremony, where the would-be couple exchange rings and is considered engaged to be betrothed. This is followed by the Tilak ceremony, where the brother of the bride applies an impression on the would-be bridegroom’s forehead to mark the beginning of the auspicious occasion.
The Sagai ceremony embraces exchanging of gifts while the Sangeet ceremony brings forth a musical extravaganza performed by the womenfolk on the girl’s side with traditional wedding songs and dance.
The Mehndi ceremony is held a day before the D-Day. Henna in beautiful intricate designs is applied on the hands and feet of the bride. In some communities, the respective families of the bride and the groom come as one in a ceremony called Sagri and bedeck themselves with flowers and perfumes.
Vara-Satkaarah and Madhuparka– The main wedding rituals commence with the Vara Satkaarah or greeting the groom to the venue of the wedding. The mother of the bride welcomes and blesses her would-be son-in-law with trefoil, husked rice and by imprinting turmeric as Tilak on the forehead. This is followed by Madhuparka, whereby the groom is led to the mandap and is presented with gifts from the bride’s side.
Kanyadaan– At the backdrop of mantras being chanted by the priest, the father of the bride hands his daughter over to his would-be son-in-law.
Vivah-Homa- Vivah-homa or the Fire Ceremony is performed to indicate the purity of the upcoming ceremonies, which are to be conducted in the presence of the sacred fire.
Pani-Grahan or Hastmilap- In this custom, the groom accepts the bride as his wedded wife by taking her right hand into his while the priest chants mantras. The two hands are tied with a single cotton thread innumerable times, to signify a strong foundation to a long-lasting relationship.
Shila-Arohan- Here the bride is led by her mother to step over a stone slab preparing her for a completely new life of bliss.
Laja-Homah- Puffed rice is given as offerings by the bride, who performs the rituals by placing her hands atop her husband’s hands.
Parikrama or Mangal Fera– This forms one of the most important rituals of a Hindu wedding. The bride and groom take seven rounds around the holy fire signifying that they are now legally married both according to the Hindu custom and Marriage Act.
Saptapadi– The bride and groom take seven sacred steps after being tied into one sacred knot. Each of these steps represents a vow namely those of strength, nourishment, happiness, long life, progeny, prosperity and understanding.
The wedding culminates with the groom putting of vermillion on the hair parting of the bride to complete the marriage and the final Vidaai or farewell ceremony.