A collection of wedding program examples and Hindu wedding ceremony program wording ideas.
The Hindu Samskaras (religious rituals) cover the full span of one's life. They act as guides that direct the life of an individual from conception to death. The Vivaha Samskara is one of the most important rituals, as it launches an individual from the Brahmachari (Bachelor) stage to the Grihasta (married) stage. The Hindu wedding ceremony celebrates the solemn union of two individuals in an eternal bond of love and mutual respect. The rituals are rooted in the Rig Veda, one of the four Hindu Vedas or scriptures, which are in the Sanskrit language. The ceremony unites two families and is very important from physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual perspectives.
The wedding ceremony takes place in a Mandap (an altar whose four pillars represent the foundations of a fulfilled life) in the presence of Agni (the god of fire), the divine witness and the most important constituent of all samskaras. Agni is believed to dispel darkness and ignorance and serves as a link to cosmic power. The core of today's ceremony is a collection of rituals performed by the bride, bridegroom, parents of the bride and close relatives. Each ritual has a deep philosophical meaning and purpose. During the ceremony the bride and the groom are regarded as divine, representing Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity and Narayana, the sustainer of the universe. The Vedic Mantras chanted during the sacred ceremony refer to the bride and bridegroom as Prukruthi and Purusha. Purusha is the all-pervading potential force of nature and Prukruthi is its earthly physical expression.
The Hindu Wedding ceremony is a long and elaborate ceremony, with every step rooted in Vedic tradition, signifying various aspects of life that is to follow after the wedding. The mandap-canopy or marriage stage is decorated with flowers and with a fire as witness, the Hindu wedding ceremony begins.Varaagman - The Groom’s Arrival
The groom arrives for the wedding with his family. They are all greeted by the bride’s family. The bride’s mother then performs a welcoming ritual and leads the groom to the Mandap.Ganesh Pooja - Worshipping Lord Ganesh
The wedding ceremony begins by offering a prayer to Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesh is worshipped, so he may remove all obstacles and bless the couple.Kanya Aagman - The Bride’s Arrival
The bride is escorted down the aisle to the Mandap by her maternal uncles. Upon arrival, the bride’s father takes her hand and leads her into the Mandap. The couple are separated by the Antarpat (curtain), which is lowered once the Maharaj (Priest) invokes a prayer for the couple.Kanta Daan & Hastamilap - Giving Away the Bride
In the Hindu religion, the Kanya Daan is considered the most magnificent offering a Bride’s parents make. The Kanya Daan symbolizes the Bride in the form of Goddess Laxmi and groom as Lord Narayana. Here, the bride’s family displays the act of giving her to the groom and his family.Jaimala - Exchanging of Garlands
At this time, the couple exchange fresh flower garlands, signifying the acceptance of one another and to pledge their respect for one another as partners in life.Mangalpheras - Circling of the Holy Fire
During the Mangalpheras, the couple circles the holy fire four times with their wedding scarves tied together. The bride’s brothers are also called in to participate in the ceremony. The four circles symbolize the four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Karma and Moksha.
The bride and groom take seven steps together representing the vows and promises they are making to each other.
The bride's mother brings the couple sweets (Kansar). Kansar Bhakshan is the couple's first meal together. The couple offer Kansar to one another to symbolize their union. Kansar is a sweet made from crushed wheat, sugar and ghee.Mangal Sutra, Sindoor & Ring Exchange
The Mangal Sutra is a sacred necklace made from black beads that the groom ties around the bride’s neck. This symbolizes their marriage. The groom then applies Sindoor in the center parting of the bride’s hair as a promise to fulfill her every wish. Lastly, the couple exchange wedding rings.Akhand Saubhagyavati - Blessings
Married women from the couple's family come and bless the bride by whispering "Akhand Saubhagyavati", in the bride's ear, which means "Good luck, prosperity, and a long, happy life."Ashirvaad - First Blessing as Husband and Wife
The Wedding ceremony has now concluded and the Maharaj, along with parents and elders of the couple's families offer them blessings for a long and happy married life. The couple bend down to touch the feet of the Maharaj and their family elders as a form of worship known in the Hindu ceremony.Vidai - Farewell to the Bride
The Vidai is one of the most emotional parts of the ceremony. Now that the couple are married, she bids farewell to her family. She throws a fistful of rice behind her shoulder wishing her childhood home happiness and security.
A traditional Hindu Wedding (Vivaha) is comprised of a series of religious ceremonies and rituals. Vivaha is one of the 16 sacraments (Sanskar) of Hindu life. It is meant to unite two persons so firmly that, although they retain two separate bodies, they become one in spirit. Vivaha is the sacred, spiritual partnership between two individuals in mind, body, spirit, and soul in this and their future lives.
No man or woman is so whole or fully rounded as to not need the other for completeness. Manu, The Great Sage and Lawmaker, gives expression of this idea.
Many of the rituals in the Hindu Wedding ceremony stem from the The Vedas, the oldest of Hindu Scriptures, and are chanted in Sanskrit. The ceremony takes place in the Mandap, a wedding pavilion (canopy built of four poles to represent the universe). Each of the five elements - fire, water, air, earth, and space - are represented within the Mandap. Agni (the Holy fire) exists as a divine witness to this sacred union and symbolizes the illumination of knowledge and happiness. Agni’s smoke, coupled with the recitation of Mantras, is believed to convey the message to God for a blessing of the spiritual union.Baraat Swagat and Dwar Puja (Welcoming the Groom)
The groom arrives with his family and friends (Baraat procession) and is warmly greeted by the bride’s family and friends. The bride’s mother welcomes the grpp, and asks him if he is prepared to make the commitment of marriage to her daughter. The bride’s mother places kumkum (red vermilion powder), signifying good luck, on the groom’s forehead and he is then asked to break the sampat (earthen pot) filled with ghee (melted butter) and cottonseeds. The pot represents the world; the contents within symbolize the different experiences the couple will encounter in their life-journey together. The groom is then escorted to the mandap where he awaits the bride’s arrival.Ganesh Puja and Var Pujan
At the mandap, the ceremony commences with a prayer to Lord Ganesh, who is the remover of obstacles and provider of good luck. He is also the symbol of peace, truth, friendship, brotherhood, and happiness. The groom, his parents, and the rest of his family are invited to participate in the prayer. The groom’s feet are cleansed with milk and water to purify him for a new life ahead.Antar Patt
The Antar Patt (veil) is placed in front of the groom, signifying the separate lives of the bride and groom, which will soon end with their union.Kanya Aagman
This is the time to welcome the Kanya (bride) to the mandap. The bride’s maternal uncles (Mamas), escort her to the mandap. While the priest recites verses to bless the bride and the groom, the Antar Patt is removed, signifying commencement of their lives as unified souls.Manglashtaka
Special prayers, Mangalashtaka, are recited at this time to wish the couple happiness, prosperity, and a peaceful marriage.Exchanging the Garlands
The bride and groom proclaim their mutual, love, respect, and acceptance of each other by bestowing a garland of fresh flowers on each other. The sweet scent of fresh flowers symbolizes happiness of married life.Kanyadaan
Kanayadaan (giving away the bride) is a very sacred step in the wedding ceremony to be performed by the bride’s parents. They summon the presence of God and give her hand in marriage to the groom. At this juncture, varmala - a loop of cotton thread wound 24 times signifying different characteristics and virtues of human life - is put around the shoulders of the bride and the groom, symbolizing the sacred union of the couple. The varmala does not contain a single knot to signify that there shall be no break in the union; it binds the two together to fulfill each other’s role sincerely.Hastamelap
Hastamelap, a physical joining of the bride’s and groom’s right palms, constitutes a very important aspect of the wedding ceremony. While chanting slokas (holy verses), the priest places sacred betel nut in the groom’s right palm, then places the bride’s right palm on top of the groom’s right palm, and finally covers the palms with a red cloth. The priest proclaims that the union has the approval of the families, and is conducted in the presence of family, friends and the community.Vivaha Havan
The wedding ceremony continues in the mandap around the Holy fire, Agni, an eternal witness to the marriage. Agni, lighted by the priest, is a symbol of purity and signifies the presence of God at the ceremony. All commitments made in the presence of Agni are thus made in the presence of God.Mangalphera
With Agni as a witness, the couple performs Mangalphera (walking around Agni) four times, which solidifies their marriage and makes them husband and wife. The four rounds symbolize their journey of life along the four paths of life:
At the onset of each round, the bride’s brother fills the couple’s palms with rice, oats, and green leaves, signifying great health and bountiful wealth, prosperity and happiness. The grains are offered to the fire as a sign of giving up worldly possessions in order to receive rewarding blessings. The groom leads the first three rounds and the bride leads the fourth round. After the final round, both will step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like the stone. The priest asks the couple to sit down and whoever sits first is believed to rule the household.Saptapadi
The bride and groom perform the Saptapadi (seven sacred steps) near the fire representing the seven vows and promises they make to each other:
The groom adorns the bride with a Mangalsutra, a necklace of gold and black beads, reflecting eternal respect and love for her. He then places sindoor (red vermilion powder) along the parting of the bride's hair. The red color symbolizes the dawn’s redness as this is the first day of their journey together as husband and wife. Both Mangalsutra and sindoor constitute traditional signs of a married woman. Also, the bride and groom exchange wedding rings as a symbol of eternal love for each other.Kansaar Feeding
The bride’s mother provides Kansaar (Indian sweets) for the newlyweds. The bride feeds the groom four times signifying that it is her duty to feed him and their family. Likewise, the groom feeds the bride four times indicating that he will fulfill his duty as a husband to provide for her and their family.Akhanda Shobhagyawati
Married women from both sides bless the newlywed couple for eternal married life (akhanda), health, wealth, prosperity, happiness, peace, and children.Jait-Chunri
A Chunri (sari or gharcholu) is draped on the bride’s head by elder members of the groom's family. The groom’s siblings shower the new bride with blessings and welcome her into her new family.
Chanted by the priest in Sanskrit verse, the prayers that compose the Hindu wedding ceremony are derived from Vedic scriptures that are over four thousand years old.Baraat (Groom's Parade)
The groom arrives on a decorated horse accompanied by his family and friends in the form of a parade.Milni (Greeting the Party)
The bride's family receives the groom and his family. It is very typical for each relative to embrace his counterpart - grooms and bride's fathers, maternal uncles (mamas) and paternal uncles (chachas) - in the other family at least 3 times each.Var Puja (The Welcoming of the Groom)
Accompanied by his family and his attendants, the groom arrives at the site of the ceremony, and is greeted by the bride’s parents. The mother of the bride welcomes the groom with an aarti, or prayer, and welcomes him to the ceremony. After receiving the blessings of his elders, the groom is escorted by the parents of the bride to the Mandap accompanied by his parents and groomsmen.Ganesh Puja (Worship of Lord Ganesh)
To commence the Hindu wedding ceremony, a prayer is offered to Lord Ganesha, the elephant God, whose blessings will remove any major obstacles from the ceremony and from the couple's new life together. Ganesha is the Lord of all circumstances; therefore no Hindu ritual or auspicious occasion is ever undertaken without Him. Jasmine garlands and the Mangalsutra (sacred wedding necklace) are placed at Ganesha's feet to invoke his blessings. His grace will overcome all obstacles, destroy all evils, and enable the ceremony to proceed with tranquility.The Entrance of the Bride
The bride arrives and is escorted by her sisters, bridesmaids, and flower girl to the site of the ceremony.Jaimala (Exchange of Garlands)
The bride and groom exchange garlands symbolizing their willingness to accept each other.Kanya Daan (Giving Away Their Daughter)
The bride’s father joins the hands of his daughter and the groom, declaring to all gathered that he hands her to the care of the man of her heart. The bride’s father seeks a pledge from the groom of his enduring love, fidelity, and security in caring for the bride. Once the groom has agreed, the bride and groom both pledge to support each other in fulfilling the four goals of human life: Dharma, the duty to lead a moral life; Artha, the duty to lead a joyous and fruitful life; Karma, the duty to lead a pleasant and productive life; Moksha, the duty to attain enlightenment.Gath Bandhan & Phere (Circling the Fire)
The bride and the groom are joined together by tying a corner of their outer garments, symbolizing the bond of marriage. After this a small open fire is lit in the center and the fire God is invited to witness the marriage. Fire, a purifying agent, is also a source of energy. Only fire can separate this bond of unity between bride and groom. The couple walks around the sacred fire seven times, making it a witness of their union as husband and wife.Saptapadi (Taking Seven Steps)
Saptapadi is translated in Sanskrit to mean “seven steps”. These steps are representative of the marriage vows. The priest then guides the bride and groom to take seven steps hand in hand around the sacred fire. The number seven refers to the earth, sun, moon, and the four planets visible to the naked eye all locked together in harmonious interrelationships governed by a single law. The Saptapadi is the most important ritual of the wedding ceremony.
The Priest recites the following hymms detailing their vows:
With God as a guide, let us take,
Having taken these steps together, I assure you that I will not swerve from the path of my love and friendship with you. Let our thoughts, decisions, and actions be one and in unison. Let us be kind, loving, considerate, good and open-hearted to each other. Let us share our food, possessions, strengths, and advantages together. Let us be complementary to each other as thought and speech are to each other.
The saptapadi ceremony concludes with a hymn signifying that the union is eternal. The bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife.Mungalsutra & Sindoor Daan (Placing Red Powder on Bride's Head and Necklace Around her Neck)
The groom now places sindhur, or red powder, on the crown of the bride’s forehead and welcomes her into his life. The sindhur is indicative of a blood union, and it is the unmistakable mark of a married woman. He then places a Mangalsutra (necklace) around her neck, symbolizing his enduring commitment to their marriage.Ashirvad (Prayer and Blessings)
Once the wedding rituals have been completed, the couple touches the feet of their parents and the priest, asking for their Aashirwaad, or blessings.Vidai (Departure of Bride and Groom)
Vidaai marks the departure of the bride from her parental house. She throws phulian or puffed rice over her head. She conveys her good wishes for her parents through this gesture. A beautifully decorated palanquin or car takes her to her new home. The bride and groom leave as a married couple and receive blessings and shower of flower petals from all of their guests.
The Hindu wedding ceremony is a holy sacrament enveloped in a symbolic order of events that stem from the oldest of Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. We invite you to witness these very special rituals that will take place under a mandap, a four pillared structure that will not only represent our first home, but also a forum for God to witness and bless our unification. You will also see that fire plays a divine role during the ceremony as it is considered Earth’s life force.Baraat - Wedding Procession of the Groom
Traveling by horse, the groom is accompanied by his family and friends to the wedding venue. Music and dancing sets the mood for the celebration of his arrival. He is then welcomed by the bride’s parents and her family, an aarti (blessing) is performed, and the groom and his family enter inside.Ganesh Puja - Invocation of Lord Ganesha
This Hindu god of wisdom and salvation is called upon to bless the bride and groom and all those present.Madhuparka - Welcoming the Groom
The mother of the bride welcomes the groom to the mandap (wedding altar). The father of the bride then honors the groom with honey water, rice, and flowers. The bride’s family then raises a curtain in preparation of the bride’s arrival.Kanya Agaman - Arrival of the Bride
The bride is led to the mandap by her father and is greeted by the mother and father of the groom.Antarpat - Exchange of Garlands
The raised curtain is removed and the bride and groom see each other for the first time. Garlands are exchanged between them as a form of respect.Kanyadaan - Entrusting of the Bride
The parents of the bride give her away by placing her hand over the groom’s. The couple promises each other endless love and devotion, and a hand-woven cord, a varmala, is placed around the bride and groom to unite and protect them from evil.Hasta Melap and Pani Grahan - Holding of Hands and Tying of the Knot
The bride and groom hold hands to symbolize the acceptance of each other. The groom’s sister then ties a knot between the couple to signify eternal togetherness.Agni Puja - Invocation of the Sacred Fire
Agni, or fire, symbolizes the illumination of the mind, bringing forth knowledge and happiness.Shilarohana - Mounting of the Stone
The bride and groom place their feet on a stone, representing strength in the face of difficulties of life.Mangalfera - Sacred Rounds
The couple walks around the holy fire seven times, with groom leading 4 times, and the bride, 3 times. Each round represent Hindu goals in life: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (accomplishment), Kama (energy and passion), and Moksha (liberation).Saptapadi - Seven Steps
The couple takes steps to symbolize the seven blessings in their journey through life:
The groom adorns the bride with the auspicious necklace, or mangalsutra, a symbol of unity, love, and friendship. This jewelry traditionally took the place of a wedding ring.Pathi Purvani - Blessing of the Bride
The groom places sindhoor (red powder) on the forehead of the bride, promising to forever protect her and keep her happy.Aashirwad - Final Blessing
The couple seeks blessings for a long and happy marriage from the priest, parents, family, and friends.Vidai - Bride’s Fairwell
The bride and groom leave the mandap as a married couple and receive blessing and a shower of flower petals from all of their guests. This portion of the wedding is very emotional because it includes the farewell to the Bride by her parents, siblings, relatives, and friends. She leaves with tears of both joy and sorrow, but carries the very best wishes of all who witness her matrimonial ceremony.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, please join us for a traditional south Indian luncheon.
“Om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yonah prachodayat”
“We meditate on the glory of the Creator; Who has created the Universe; Who is worthy of Worship; Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light; Who is the remover of Sin and Ignorance; May He open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect.”Programme of the Vedic Wedding Sacrament
The Vedic wedding sacrament is based on traditions and rituals originating in the Rig Veda, the earliest of the four ancient Sanskrit books of knowledge, collectively known as the Vedas. This sacred Vedic wedding ceremony is meant to unite two people so firmly that after marriage they become one in spirit. The ceremony takes place in a Mandap (Wedding Shrine). The fire, representing Agni (the God of Fire), is a divine witness to the union and brings warmth throughout the couple’s life.Baraat Swaagat
The family of Shivana, the bride welcomes Ryan, the groom and his family with the recitation of Vedic Mantras. The fathers of the Shivana and Ryan greet each other.Parichhan
Shivana’s mother and other married ladies welcome Ryan and bless him with good fortune and prosperity.Var Mandap Pravesh
Ryan now enters the Mandap.Vadhoo Mandap Pravesh
Shivana enters the MandapAasan Daan
Shivana offers Ryan a seat of comfort.Madhuparka Daan
Shivana offers Ryan a taste of sweetness of honey and curd.Kanyaadaan
Shivana’s father formally places the right hand of his daughter into the right hand of the Ryan signifying consent of their marriage.Jaimaal
They both garland each other to signify their own choice and acceptance of each other.Ritwig Varan
Both fathers formally adopt the officiating priest and request him to perform the Vivaah Sanskaar.Agnihotra
The Priest invites Shivana and Ryan to kindle the sacramental fire and make offerings of clarified butter and mixed herbs.Paani Grahan
Ryan takes hold of Shivana’s right hand and offer words of fortune and happiness which is sanctioned by God and all present.Pradakshinaa
Ryan leads Shivana around the Havan Kunda and offers words of praise and promises the best things in life.Shilaa-rohan
Shivana puts her right foot on a slab of stone and promises to be firm like a rock to shoulder responsibilities and overcome obstacles in married life.Laaj-aahuti
They both make an offering of parched grains unto the fire, praying for prosperity in wedded life.Pradakshinaa
Ryan leads Shivana around the fire.Saptapadi
They now take seven steps, together, to the northeast. There is a vow taken for each step.Jal Prok-shanam
The Priest sprinkles water over their heads, asking them to keep their powers of thought cool in life.Soorya Avalokan
As Ryan points to the sun, he tells Shivana that their lives should resemble the sun-ever-shining.Hridai Sparsh
They touch each other’s heart and promise to live in unity.Sindoor
Ryan now applies sindoor to Shivana’s parted hair and asks the audience to bless him and his bride. The sindoor is indicative of a blood union and it is the unmistakable mark of a married woman. They exchange wedding rings which symbolize their union.Aashirwaad
The priest prays for blessings from the supreme Lord for the well- being of the newlyweds and of those assembled. Then friends and relatives sprinkle flowers on the couple. The couple touches the feet of their parents and the elders of both the families to demonstrate their respect and also receive blessings for their future life together.
Om Shri Ganeshay Namah
The Hindu wedding ceremony is based on ancient traditions and rituals originating from the Vedas, the Sanskrit books of knowledge that form the foundation of Hinduism. This sacred ceremony unites two individuals so firmly that they become one spirit despite retaining separate bodies, enabling them to begin their life together. The ceremony takes place in a mandap (wedding pavilion) built to represent the universe. The four pillars of the mandap signify Jaimini and Varun’s parents. During the ceremony, the priest recites Sanskrit verses from the Vedas, and performs symbolic rituals in the presence of Lord Agni (Fire), representing the divine and impartial witness to the vows taken by the Jaimini and Varun.Baraat - Groom’s Procession
The wedding celebrations begin when Varun arrives, accompanied by his family and friends, in a lively procession filled with song and dance.Swagatam - Welcome
Jaimini’s family receives Varun and his family upon their arrival for the wedding ceremony. The Bride’s mother performs welcome rituals and gives her blessings. Varun is then asked to step on an earthen pot symbolizing his willingness to take on life’s challenges and wonders before being led to the mandap by Jaimini’s parents for the wedding ceremony.Shri Ganesh Pooja - Invocation of the Lord
The ceremony commences with Jaimini’s parents, Niranjan and Amita, performing a prayer to Lord Ganesh asking that all obstacles be removed on Jaimini and Varun’s path to happiness.Var Raja Pooja - The Groom’s Reception
The Bride’s parents receive the Groom with an offering of honey, curd, and butter signifying the sweetness of the marriage sacrament and the sweetness of life. The priest seeks confirmation from Varun that he is ready, willing, and wanting to make this commitment of marriage. In anticipation of Jaimini’s arrival, her brothers raise an antarpat (white curtain) in front of Varun symbolizing traditional barriers and the physical world that separates the Bride and Groom.Kanya Aagman - The Arrival of the Bride
The bride walks towards marriage, hand-in-hand with her Mamas (maternal uncles). Mangalshtak (a sacred hymn) is recited and she is seated in the mandap.Jai Mala and Sankalpa - Exchange of Garlands and Announcement
The antarpat is removed and Jaimini and Varun exchange garlands to signify their acceptance of each other as life partners. The priest, on behalf of both familes, announces the time and place of the wedding as well as their ancestries to establish proper identities.Kanya Daan - Giving Away of the Bride
Niranjan and Amita give their daughter Jaimini (kanya), who is their most precious gift (daan) on earth, to Varun and ask him to love and respect her as his life-long partner.Hasta Melap - Joining of the Hands
The couple is united as Jaimini’s right hand is placed in Varun’s right hand. The priest endorses this Pani Grahan (Hasta Melap or Joining of the Hands) by reciting hymns. A Var Mala (twisted, raw, cotton garland with twenty four threads) is placed on the Bride and Groom by their parents and relatives as an endorsement of the union. A lace is tied to the garments of the couple (Granthi Bandhan) signifying unity.Mangal Fera - Holy Circling of the Fire
The priest lights the sacred fire (Agni Sthapan) invoking the presence of Lord Agni, who is the Divine energy and an impartial witness to the wedding ceremony. Jaimini’s brother, Chirag, places rice into the couple’s hand signifying the bride’s transition to her new family. The couple circles the holy fire four times. Each completed circle signifies one of the four essential aspects of life according to the Vedic philosophy – duty and ethics, wealth and prosperity, love and family, and spiritual liberation.Saptapadi - The Seven Steps
The couple takes seven steps together representing seven vows of commitment they are making towards each other – sustenance, strength, prosperity, progeny, fidelity, harmony, and lifelong friendship. Jaimini and Varun are now married and seek blessings from Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, and his consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.Mangal Sutra and Sindoor Daan
Varun places a Mangal Sutra (black-beaded gold necklace) around Jaimini’s neck and applies Sindoor (red vermillion) to her forehead. These are the traditional symbols of a Hindu married woman. At this time, Jaimini and Varun will also exchange wedding rings.Akhand Saubhagyavati - Advice from Married Women
Married women from Jaimini and Varun’s families whisper good wishes in Jaimini’s ear and bless the Bride with an unbroken wedded life.Kansar Bhojan - Offering of Sweets
The couple feed each other sweets signifying their first meal together as husband and wife and demonstrating that they will share all things in life.Ashirvaad - Blessings
The priest declares the Bride and Groom as husband and wife and blesses the newlyweds with a happy and prosperous life together. He asks the congregation to join him in showering the couple with blessings and good wishes. The couple then seeks blessings from family and friends as the ceremony concludes.Vidaai - Farewell
After lunch is the Vidaai ceremony. The Vidaai is a touching and emotional farewell to Jaimini by her family and friends as she begins her new life with Varun and his family. Jaimini throws handfuls of rice over her head, signifying that she is returning all that her parents have given her over the years and praying that the house of her childhood remains prosperous and happy.
The Hindu Wedding Ceremony
The Hindu wedding is a sacrament solemnized in accordance with the Hindu Scriptures (Vedas) which date back over 5,000 years. The ceremony, which is performed in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, consists of a sequence of rituals meant to unite two souls eternally. The wedding takes place in the Kalyana Mandapam (wedding pavilion), which is built to symbolize the Universe. According to the Vedas, the Universe is surrounded by twenty-seven constellations, protected by nine planets, and guided by laws given by the lords of the eight quarters of the world.
Sequence of Auspicious RitualsGowri Pooja
Upon arrival to the temple, the bride offers prayers to the Goddess Gowri Devi, who represents power and womanhood.Kaasi Yaathra & Swaagatham - Greeting of the Groom
This event signifies the possible conflict in the Groom’s mind about entering married life. The brother of the bride convinces the groom about the significance of the life a householder and the virtues of the bride, and escorts him to the Kalyana Mandapam. The Groom is welcomed ceremoniously to the assemblage by ladies from the bride’s party.Ganapathi Pooja
It is customary to offer a prayer to Lord Ganapathi (Remover of Obstacles) at the beginning of every Hindu Ceremony. He ensures that the marriage rituals will take place without impediments and that the bride and groom will share a happy life together.Punyaahavachanam - Purification
A special vessel (Kalasam) is prepared and all of the sacred rivers are invited to contribute their waters to fill this vessel. This water is then used to sanctify the materials and the site of the ceremony, while chanting Vedic hymns. According to Hindu tradition, this must be done in the presence of Agni (the Holy Fire), and the invited guests.Raksha Bandhanam
Mantras and hymns are chanted by the priest to protect the bride and groom against any evil spirits during the ceremony. A yellow thread (Raksha) is tied to the wrists of the bride and the groom to offer them protection. Vadhu Kalyana Vedika Pravesam - Arrival of the Bride The bride, accompanied by her friends and close members of her family, is escorted to the Kalyana Mandapam. The bride’s parents receive the bride, who arrives with a purnakumbha, a coconut decorated with pasupu and kumkum. The bride will be seated between her parents and in front of the bridegroom, and a screen is placed between the bride and groom.Kanya Daanam - Giving away the Bride
The parents of the bride offer her hand to the bridegroom in marriage, placing the care of their cherished daughter in his hands. The groom accepts the bride as his equal partner and agrees to marry her.Sumuhurtham
At the exact auspicious moment, a paste made from cumin seed and brown sugar is placed by the bride and the groom on each other’s head, with the cloth screen still in place. Following this, the screen is removed, and they look at each other. The couple is now married. The paste is believed to signify a harmonious mental union.Maangalya Dharanam - Tying of the Sacred Thread
A gold pendant (Mangalasutra) strung on a sacred thread is tied around the neck of the bride with three knots in Maangalyadharana. The three knots represent the Trimurthis, or the Holy Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara). This is a significant movement in Hindu ceremony.Maaladhaarana
The bride and the bridegroom exchange festive garlands.Talambraalu - Akshathaaropanam
The bride and the groom joyously shower each other with turmeric coated rice to ensure long life, prosperity, and happiness.Brahma Mudi
The ends of the saree pallu of the bride and the uttariya of the groom are tied together, signifying the union of their souls in the presence of elders.Aashirvaadam
The priest recites selected hymns from the Hindu scriptures invoking blessings of all the Gods, and wishes prosperity to the newlyweds as well as those who witnessed the ceremony. The bride and the groom bow their heads first to God, then to the priest, and finally to their parents and elders seeking blessings from all present. Turmeric-coated rice is sprinkled on the heads of the newlyweds by all the elders, and everyone present blesses the couple.Vivaha Homam
Agni, who is the messenger to the heavens and is symbolized by the light and fire, is invited and worshipped by the bride & groom. They offer rice into the fire and pray for their happiness and prosperity.Saptapadi (Seven Steps) & Agni Pradarshinam
The bride and groom hold hands and walk seven steps around the sacred fire symbolizing the seven marital vows. The bride and bridegroom make promises to each other in front of the seven Rishis (holy sages) who are invoked for the occasion.
The ceremony ends when the friends of the family bring the sacred lights to the newlyweds and wish them happiness and prosperity.Arundhati Darshanam
The priest points out in the sky to the bride and the groom the seven stars representing seven Rishis and the star Arundhathi. The couple prays to obtain their blessings.
According to the Sanatan Dharma, there are sixteen primary religious rites to be performed by every Hindu. These are called Sanskaras, with marriage (Vivah) being one of the most important. Marriage is a conceptual union between a man and woman for life, and is religiously solemnized. It not only binds two hearts together but also two families as well. For the strength to love obey and to understand, humble supplications are made by the bride and groom at the time of marriage. A married couple living according to the dictates of Dharma, pooling their mental and physical resources together to have a successful married life, can achieve nothing but complete marital bliss.Baraat Swaagat/Milaap
The marriage celebration commences with the arrival of Ganesh (the Groom), his family and friends, in a procession called the Baraat. Amanda’s family welcomes Ganesh and the Baraat with the recitation of Vedic mantras. After reciting the Vedic mantras the two fathers embrace signifying the acceptance of the union between the two families.Dwaar Puja
Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha, who is the remover of all obstacles and a symbol of peace, friendship, and happiness. These prayers purify and bless the surroundings and also provide an atmosphere of tranquility to perform the ceremonies. Here the groom is formally welcomed and the Bride’s father presents gift to Ganesh.Parchan
Amanda’s Mother and other married women of her family welcome Ganesh. They perform rituals showering him with grains and aarti, representing prosperity, love, and adoration. Small balls of flour are thrown in all directions, to ward off any negative forces.Janwaas
Ganesh and his Baraat are offered a comfortable place to rest while they enjoy refreshments and sweets until they are called to the Mandap (wedding shrine).Imli Ghotaaway
Amanda enters the Mandap accompanied by her mother and mamoos (maternal uncles) Anand and Dyanand Kalladeen, and receives her mother’s blessings before her marriage.Devta Puja
Amanda takes her place on a specially prepared seat under the Mandap and prays to Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, and Mother Lakshmi, Goddess of happiness and prosperity, Gowri Mata, and Agni Devta, seeking their blessings on this very special occasion.Taag-Paath/Raksha Sutra
The older brother of Ganesh, garlands Amanda with a mala of woolen threads symbolizing his promise to protect her at all times and treat her as his own sister. He vows to protect her through all adversities, which may occur in her family life. He also presents her with gifts from Ganesh’s family.
Amanda exits the Mandap with her mother.Var Puja
Ganesh is welcomed to the Mandap, for the first time, accompanied by Amanda’s father and the baraat. Amanda’s father then welcomes Ganesh by first offering him a seat. Ganesh is honored as Amanda’s father feeds him Madhuparaka (a mixture of dhai, ghee, and honey). This is symbolic of a happy and joyful union. Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha, the lord of good beginnings and remover of all obstacles.Samamjama
Escorted by her parents and sister-in-law (Bijal Harri-Das), Amanda makes her grand entrance to the Mandap, officially commencing the wedding ceremony.Kanyaadaan
The Bride’s parents prepare to give her away. They formally offer the hand of their daughter to Ganesh. Ganesh then accepts Amanda’s hand in marriage. Amanda now takes her place besides Ganesh, on his right side. “For the obtaining of absolute happiness as the consequence of Kanyadaan, for purifying, proceeding, and succeeding generations through the progeny in our daughter, and for the propitiation of Lakshmi and Vishnu, we give our precious Amanda to you Ganesh, to cherish, love, and care for life-long, in accordance with our sacred Dharmic principles.”Gaathi Bandhan
To complete the symbolic union, the nuptial knot is tied (Amanda and Ganesh have portions of their garments tied together.) This tying of the knot symbolizes togetherness in mind, thought, and action.Paaw Puja
As a form of purification as well as to express their gratitude, Amanda and Ganesh make offerings of ghee and mixed herbs to the sacramental fire. The Bride’s parents will then give their blessings to the couple by presenting them with gifts and washing their feet.Agni Hotra/Havan
The sacred fire symbolizes the eternal and omnipresent God, as witness to the wedding ceremony. Amanda touches Ganesh’s hands as they make offerings to God in the form of Agni (fire).Laawa Bhaawar
Special grains, symbolizing fertility and prosperity are offered by Ganesh and Amanda into the fire with an appeal to bear testimony to their marriage. The offerings are made whilst Ganesh and Amanda circle the fire seven times. The Bride’s Brother (Ryan) provides the grains for the couple as they circle the fire. The Bride Leads in Prayer
The Groom Leads in Prayer
Together, Amanda and Ganesh take seven steps forward - facing North. With each of the seven steps, the couple seeks God’s guidance in the vows that bind them in marriage. The seven steps are:
Amanda places her right foot on a stone to show that she will be as solid and unwavering as a rock in her devotion to Ganesh.Surya Darshan
Visualizing the Sun and looking towards it, Amanda and Ganesh pray that they should be as radiant as the Sun and that their lives should sparkle like the Sun.Hriday Sparsh
Ganesh places his hand on Amanda’s heart, praying that their hearts beat in unison, their minds be one, and their thoughts lead them to the highest realms of peace.Saat Vachan
Amanda asks Ganesh to accept seven vows before taking her rightful place on his left side. The seven vows are:
Ganesh makes one request to Amanda.
“I ask that you promise me here in the presence of God and our family and friends that you will always upkeep your Pativrata Dharma, or wifely duties, and that you will love me with all your heart and act according to my good wishes.”Sindoor Dhan
Ganesh applies Sindoor to Amanda’s forehead, which she will always do for herself from this day forward. This signifies that she is a married Hindu woman. This sacred moment, a lifelong treasure to the couple is indicative of their union based upon the highest principles of Sanatan Dharma. As this moment is a most sacred one, the bride and groom must be covered while this is done.Jaimaala
Amanda and Ganesh garland each other to signify their own choice and acceptance of each other as life-long companions. Exchange of Wedding Rings The wedding rings are blessed by the Pandit and exchanged between Ganesh and Amanda.Mangalsutra Daan
The Mangalsutra is a sacred necklace made up of black and gold beads. It is first blessed by the Pandit then five happily married women who are very special to the couple. Ganesh places the necklace around Amanda’s neck symbolizing unity, love, friendship, and his enduring commitment to their marriage.Vaamangikaran
After these requests are agreed upon by both Amanda and Ganesh, Amanda takes her rightful place on Ganesh’s left side, signifying her formally becoming his wife.Aashirvad (Blessings)
The priest prays for blessings from the supreme Lord for the well being of the newlyweds and of those assembled. The family showers rice and flowers on Ganesh and Amanda to bless them and wish them good luck, prosperity, and a long and happy marriage life.
Vedic Wedding Ceremony
“I knowingly accept you as you knowingly accept me. May we remain together for a hundred autumns”
At its core, this ancient ceremony unites two individual souls spiritually, mentally and physically. The bond of matrimony is sacred and the ceremony of marriage is conducted according to Vedic traditions that date back some three thousand years BC. This ceremony originated from the Vedas (which are the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism). Although the rituals have been simplified considerably in modern times, Hindu culture still attaches a deep significance to them today. Each step of the ceremony has a profound spiritual meaning and a life affirming purpose. The ceremony will be conducted in Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world and translated for you by the priest. Most of the Mantras (hymns) are taken from the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and the Puranas. The brief description of each part of the ceremony that follows will explain the meaning of the rituals. In Hindu tradition, marriage is viewed as the second stage of the four stages of life. As well as being the union of two souls, it is also regarded as a bond between two families.Pokwanu - Arrival/Welcoming of the Groom
Emily’s family formally greets Jignesh and his family and friends. Gillian (Emily’s mother) applies tilak (red vermilion powder) on Jignesh’s forehead and he then steps down on a clay pot breaking it into pieces, demonstrating that he has the power to overcome all the obstacles that the couple may face in their married life. Jignesh is then escorted to the mandap where the marriage ceremony is held.Kanya Aagman - Arrival of the Bride
Emily is led by her father, David, to enter the Mandap where a veil of cloth (Antarpat) is held in front of Jignesh to prevent him from seeing her. Whilst reciting the verses (Manglashtak), the veil is removed and the bride and groom exchange garlands (Jai-Malas). Emily offers the first garland and by doing so declares she has chosen the groom at free will. Jignesh will return the compliment by offering her a garland in return as a welcome to a new life and with a promise to look after her.Kumbha Sthapana
The Brahmin (Priest) invites Lord Vishnu to join the ceremony. He then explains the ‘definition’ of the marriage and its commitments as outlined in the Vedic Scriptures.Sankalpa
The Brahmin announces where, when and between whom the marriage is taking place.Hastamelap/Kanyadan - Giving Away the Bride
Gillian and David express their wishes to give away their daughter in marriage. They give their daughter to Jignesh by placing her right hand in his right hand. Emily and Jignesh are advised to remember the Supreme Lord and all the deities and look upon each other with respect love and compassion. They are advised to be strong and righteous and to show goodwill and affection towards each other’s families.Cheda Chedi
Taking the groom and brides clothes Jignesh’s female cousin, Krishna, ties the knot symbolizing eternal love. May this love always be tied and stay strong regardless of any difficulties that they face in life.Barmala
A long garland made of colorful thread placed on the groom and the bride as a symbol of blessing from both parents.Havan
A small fire is lit. The couple offers prayers to Agni (Lord of Fire) symbolizing light, power and purity by placing Ghee (purified butter), rice and flowers in the flames. These prayers have a special importance, for it is Agni that dispels the darkness and ignorance from our lives and leads us to eternal light and knowledge.Mangal Fera - Around the Holy Fire
Emily and Jignesh circle the holy fire four times. The four feras (circles) represent the four basic goals of Hindu Life:
Emily and Jignesh take seven steps to symbolise the beginning of their journey together for life. The couple take seven vows as they receive blessings from the priest and everyone present:
Jignesh places sindhoor (red vermillion powder) on Emily’s hair symbolizing her as a married woman.Mangal Sutra Dharan
Similar to concept of the English wedding ring, a golden necklace is presented by Jignesh to Emily. The black beads signify protection from evil. It is believed to protect their marriage, their lives and represents togetherness, love and sacred union.Kansar
Exchange of sweets (mithai) between the couple is a symbolic gesture that they will provide for each others needs and prosperity in their household life.Aashirwad - Blessings
The priest by recitation of Vedic mantras offers sacred blessings to Emily and Jignesh. The newly wed couple at this time seeks blessing from the priest, their parents, relatives and their friends for a happily married life together.Akhand Saubhagyavati - Blessings from Married Women
Invited married women from both families greet the couple and whisper good wishes (luck, prosperity and happiness in Emily’s right ear).Vidai - Departure
Emily and Jignesh depart. The bride’s family sees her off. The farewell to Emily by her family is emotional, filled with tears, sorrow and joy, as she leaves her parent’s home to build a new life.
The Hindu WeddingIntroduction to Hinduism
Hindus believe in the existence of a Supreme Being. This Being is described in the Vedas (scripture) as “unmanifest, unthinkable, and unchanging.” The Supreme Being manifests in this world in different forms and at different times as Rama, Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, etc. Hindus also believe that the soul is divine and eternal. It is neither created nor destroyed, but is reborn through many lifetimes in this world. When a soul has found release from this cycle of rebirth is it said to have achieved liberation (moksha).
Hindus also accepts all religions as true and valid paths to God. In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna says, “Whenever there is a decline in dharma (righteousness) and an increase in adharma (unrighteousness), at that time I manifest Myself.” In this way, all religions are seen as the manifestation of the Divine into this world.The Hindu Wedding
The traditional Hindu wedding is a deeply meaningful and symbolic combination of rituals and traditions. It is a ceremony that has roots going back about 4000 years. Each phase of the ceremony has a symbolic, philosophical, and spiritual meaning. The ceremony not only joins the souls of the bride and groom, but also creates a strong tie between two families. The ceremony is traditionally performed in Sanskrit, which is the language of ancient India and Hinduism. Today the ceremony will be performed both in Sanskrit and English. The following sequence of rituals represents the highlights of the ceremony.Mangala Vadyam
The Sanskrit word for marriage is vivaha, which literally means “what supports or carries.” The Vivaha ceremony is therefore a sacred ceremony meant to create a union that supports and carries a man and woman throughout their married life in the pursuit of righteousness (dharma).
The wedding ceremony begins with Mangala Vadyam, or the playing of the auspicious Shenai, a trumpet-like instrument. Milni
The bride’s family greets the groom. He receives the red tilaka (red powder) mark on his forehead signifying the Lord’s blessing upon him. He is led to the wedding canopy (mandapa) under which the ceremony will take place.Kashi Yatra
For a higher spiritual purpose the groom is given a final opportunity to leave before the bride enters. He is asked if he would like to abandon worldly life and lead the life of an ascetic. The father of the bride requests the groom not to leave, but to stay and marry his daughter.Kanya Agamanam/Jaya Mala
While the bride is escorted to the wedding canopy (mandapa). the groom is hidden behind a curtain (antarpat). The groom may be teased about the bride he has not yet seen. The priest will lower the curtain and the bride and groom will shower each other with rice. The rice represents prosperity, but is also said to establish dominance in the marriage. The person who throws the rice first will be the most authoritative in the marriage! The bride and groom exchange flower garlands signifying their acceptance of each other.Ganesha Puja
The wedding ceremony begins with the worship of Shri Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles and provider of good luck. All traditional Hindu ceremonies begin with invocation of Ganesha. Other pujas are also performed evoking the presence of other forms of God to preside over the wedding ceremony.Hasta Melap/Vara Mala
Hasta Melap literally means the “joining of hands”. The parents of the bride place the hands of their daughter into the hands of the groom. They then place a sacred cord (Vara Mala) around both the bride and groom which joins them together. The bride’s parents ask the groom to accept their daughter as his equal partner throughout life. The groom gratefully accepts.Vivaha Homam
The great messenger of the Gods, Agnideva the fire God, is evoked to witness the proceedings. The priest lights a sacred fire in the presence of the bride and groom. Throughout the ceremony, the bride, groom and the priest add ghee, clarified butter, to the fire to keep it burning. Rice and other ingredients are added to the fire at various times.Aajya Homam
The groom places offerings of ghee into the sacred fire, asking for the protection of the bride.Ashma Kramana/Laaja Homam
The bride places her right foot onto a stone and with the assistance of her brothers makes offerings of puffed rice into the sacred fire, asking for the protection of her husband. The stone symbolizes the earth. The act of placing the bride’s foot upon the stone means that she should become strong and fixed like the earth.Druva Darshana
The bride and groom gaze up at the pole star (Druvaloka) and meditate on stability in the marriage union. Each night as the stars rotate in the sky, the pole star always remains fixed. In the same way as life is constantly changing the union of the bride and groom should remain fixed like the pole star, Druvaloka.Granthi Bandhanam
One corner of groom’s shawl is tied to the end of the brides sari. This signifies the union of two souls.Phera
The bride and groom walk around the holy fire four times, symbolizing the walk of life. Human life is seen to have four great goals called purusharthas: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. The bride leads the groom through the first three rounds while the groom leads the bride through the last round. The first round represents the attainment of dharma, or righteous conduct and the fulfillment of civic and religious responsibilities. The second round is for the attainment of artha, the accumulation of wealth and prosperity. This leads to the third round which is for the attainment of kama, life’s enjoyments. Finally, the bride and groom exchange places and the groom leads the bride around the fire on the fourth round enacting the attainment of moksha, life’s spiritual values.Saptapadi
The bride and groom take seven steps together, symbolizing the beginning of their journey through life as partners. These seven steps reflect their guiding principles in life. As they take each step, the bride and groom exchange the following vows:
Together we will...
The bride and groom now return to their seats, but this time the bride sits on the left side of the groom. As a married woman she is given a place of honor at her husband’s left side.Mangalya Dharanam/Ring Exchange
The groom gives the bride a mangala sutra, a necklace made of gold and onyx. This necklace also identifies her as a married woman. The mangala sutra is the equivalent of the wedding ring, which may also be exchanged at this time.Sindura Danam
The groom places a special red powder between the parting of the bride’s hair. This red line identifies the bride as a married woman.Declaration
The bride and groom make an oath to each other declaring that they love each other and will remain devoted to each other through all times.Kansar Bhoj
The newly married couple feed each other sweets representing their first meal together.Aashirvaad
The priest gives blessings to the couple. The newly married couple then seeks the blessings of the priest and family and friends. The family and friends bestow their blessings by showering them with flower petals.Akhand Sabhagyavati
Senior ladies of the bride’s family come and give blessings to the couple.Vidhai
The couple prepare to leave the mandapa. The wife throws rice behind her as she leaves the stage for her husbands home. This symbolizes that she is leaving some wealth behind.
Welcome Family and Friends,
We are thankful that you are here to join us on our wedding day.
Today we come together to honor two distinct traditions. The Hindu wedding ceremony encompasses a symbolic order of events stemming from the Vedas, the oldest of Hindu scriptures. The Christian wedding ceremony marks the formation of a covenant between two individuals in the same way that one forms a covenant with God. On this occasion, we pay respect to both as we celebrate our love. We will bless this marriage under a Mandap, a four pillared structure that symbolizes our first home and serves as a forum for God to witness and bless our union. We will also exchange wedding bands, a Christian tradition that signifies the unending commitment we make to one another. We will finish by reciting vows to each other in both Sanskrit and English: some of these are ancient and repeated at many weddings while others we have written ourselves.
This program seeks to explain some of the traditions that we will honor today, and we hope that it illustrates common themes we have found in both faiths. We are grateful that you are here with us to witness and celebrate this moment, Renuka & Shiv
The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. - Rumi (1207-1273)Baraat - Wedding Procession of the Groom
The groom makes his way to the wedding venue surrounded by his family and friends as they dance to music. The bride’s parents and family welcome him and perform an aarti (blessing) before the groom and his family enter inside.Madhuparka - Welcoming the Groom
The mother of the bride welcomes the groom to the Mandap, and the father of the bride washes the groom’s feet and honors him with honey water, rice, and flowers. Family members then raise a curtain in preparation of the bride’s arrival.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:14-15)Kanya Agaman - Arrival of the Bride
The father of the bride leads her to the Mandap where the mother and father of the groom greet her.
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)Antarpat - Exchange of Garlands
The raised curtain is removed and the bride and groom see each other for the first time. Garlands are exchanged between them as a form of respect.
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels (Isaiah 61:10)Kanyadaan - Entrusting of the Bride
The parents of the bride give her away by placing her hand over the groom’s. The couple promises each other endless love and devotion, and a hand-woven cord, a varmala, is placed around the bride and groom to unite and protect them from evil.
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate. (Matthew 19:6)Mangalfera - Sacred Rounds
The couple walks around the holy fire (agni) four times, with the groom leading 3 times, and the bride, 1 time. Each round represents Hindu goals in life: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (accomplishment), Kama (energy and passion), and Moksha (liberation).Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Wherever you go, I shall go, wherever you live, I shall live. Your people will be my people... and where you die, I shall die... (Ruth 1:16-17)
The couple takes steps to symbolize the seven blessings in their journey through life:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and...forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)Wedding Vows
I will make for you a covenant... and I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy, I will take you for my wife in faithfulness. (Hosea 2:18-19)Mangalsutra Bandhan - Tying of the Auspicious Necklace
You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. (Song of Solomon 4:9)Pathi Purvani - Blessing of the Bride
Husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.... For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:28 and 31)
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
Marriage in the Hindu tradition is a sacred and ancient ceremony with rituals based on the Vedas, or Hindu Scriptures. It is the thirteenth of sixteen rites of passage that carry Hindus on the lifetime path of Dharma, or righteousness. Priests have performed this ceremony for over 5,000 years, using traditional Sanskrit invocations, chants, and prayers to ensure lifelong blessings and happiness for the couple.Arrival of the Groom
Rabinder and his family are welcomed by the bride’s parents. Rabinder enters the Mandap (a sacred canopy under which the holy ceremony takes place) The four-pillared structure represents the four goals of a fulfilled Hindu life: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and Moksha (eternal bliss/salvation). The symbolism of the Mandap goes further with each pillar being understood to represent the four parents of the couple, without whose support, love and blessings, the marriage would not have come to take place. Suchita’s parents offer Rabinder Panchamrutham, a sweetened drink of five nectars (milk, ghee, honey, yoghurt and brown sugar/jaggery).Ganapathi Pooja
The Priest offers a prayer to Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, to ensure that the ceremony takes place smoothly, as Rabinder prays for a long and blissful married life with his bride.Punyaahavaachanam
The Priest uses three sacred vessels (Kalasas) filled with turmeric, vermilion and water, and covered with a coconut, to sanctify the site and the articles of the ceremony.Rakshaabandhanam
A sanctified thread (Raksha) is tied to Rabinder’s wrist to protect against any malevolence.Arrival of the Bride
Suchita enters, carrying a coconut decorated with turmeric and vermilion, symbolizing prosperity. As she enters the Mandap, a cloth screen (Therachekka/Therisella) is held between her and Rabinder. As per tradition, the Bride and Groom are not to see each other until the auspicious moment, or Sumuhurtham.Kanyaadaanam
Giving away the bride is considered a parent’s most magnificent offering and precious gift. Suchita’s parents instruct Rabinder to keep Suchita as his equal partner for life.Sumuhurtham, Jeelakarra Bellam and Madhuparkam
At this auspicious moment, the Sumuhurtham, Suchita and Rabinder place a special paste on each other’s heads. The inseparable paste is made of slightly bitter cumin seeds (jeelakarra) and sweet brown sugar (jaggery/bellam), symbolizing that Rabinder and Suchita will also remain inseparable through life’s bitter and sweet times. After this, Suchita will receive the Madhuparkam, (white wedding clothes), in the form of a special sari, gifted by her mother-inlaw. The white sari symbolizes purity and the red border represents strength. She will excuse herself to change into this sari.Kankana Dhaaranam
Suchita and Rabinder tie sacred yellow threads, fastened to a piece of turmeric (Kankanam) to each other’s wrists as protection from obstacles.Maangalya Pooja, Maangalya Dhaarnanam and Maala Dhaaranam
The Mangalasutra is a holy yellow thread with two gold discs symbolizing marriage and the sacred bond between husband and wife. Rabinder ties this thread around Suchita’s neck with three knots, representing the Trimurthi or “Great Trinity” (Brahma-the creator, Vishnu-the preserver and Maheswara (Shiva)-the destroyer). They then exchange garlands (Maalas).Thalambraalu
Suchita and Rabinder joyously shower each other with holy rice mixed with turmeric powder, flowers and pearls in an abundant flow that signifies happiness, health, harmony, wealth and a loving and blessed family.Paanigrahanam
The couple holds hands and takes their vows in the presence of God and those assembled. They are instructed to be compassionate, loving and sympathetic towards each other and to maintain the strong bonds of family throughout their lives together.Homam
Pradhaana Homam The couple takes their seat beside the sacred fire to conduct the “Pradhaana Homam”. Sixteen Mantras are recited as an accompaniment to the pouring of ghee and puffed rice into the fire. Through this offering, Suchita prays for a long life for Rabinder. The couple then circles the fire three times.Silaarohanam
Suchita places each foot on a rock symbolizing her strength in good and bad times. Rabinder places a ring on her toe.Brahmamudi
Suchita and Rabinder invoke the blessings of God. The Priest ties the ends of their garments in a matrimonial knot four times before they circle the holy fire. This represents lifelong unity and the four life principles of Dharma (being just and righteous), Artha (earning an honest living), Kama (love for each other) and Moksha (eternal bliss).Saptapadi
The bride and groom take seven steps together, symbolizing the beginning of their journey through life as partners. These seven steps reflect their guiding principles in life. As they take each step, the bride and groom exchange the following vows:
Together we will:
Suchita and Rabinder then participate in the Arundhathi Darshana. In this rite, they are shown the Saptha Rishi Mandala, seven stars in the Great Bear constellation that represent the seven sages who are the originators of Vedic love and their families, and the small star Arundhathi underneath the star of Vashistha. The sight (darshan) of these great sages reminds the couple of the heritage they are a part of and the debt they owe to these sages.
Two rings – one precious and one brass – are placed into a pot of water. Suchita and Rabinder will compete to find them first.
Aasirvaadam and Mangala Haarati
The couple stands before family and friends to receive blessings. May God grant peace and blessings to all on this wonderful day when Suchita & Rabinder are united before God.