Hindu marriage is a life-long commitment of one wife and one husband, and is the strongest social bond that takes place between a man and a woman. Grahastha Ashram (the householder stage), the second of the four stages of life begins when a man and a woman marry and start a household. For a Hindu marriage is the only way to continue the family and thereby repay his debt to his/her ancestors.
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.Hindu wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted at least partially in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted.
The local language of the people involved is also used since most Hindus cannot understand Sanskrit. They have many rituals that have evolved since traditional times and differ in many ways from the modern western wedding ceremony and also among the different regions, families, and castes.In India, where most Hindus live, the laws relating to marriage differ by religion. By the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 passed by the Union Parliament of India, for all legal purposes, all Hindus of any caste, creed or sect, Sikh, Buddhists and Jains are considered as Hindus for the sake of the Hindu marriage Act and can hence intermarry.
The pre-wedding ceremonies include engagement (involving vagdana or oral agreement and lagna-patra written declaration), and arrival of the groom's party at the bride's residence, often in the form of a formal procession. The post-wedding ceremonies involve welcoming the bride to her new home
Traditionally, Hindu parents look for a prospective match for their son/daughter from their own community also known as arranged marriage. Elders in the family and parents seek the prospective match through word of mouth within the community. The use of jathakam (astrological chart at the time of birth) of the son/daughter to match with the help of a priest is common, but not universal.
Parents also take advice from the brahmin called 'panthulu' in Telugu who has details of many people looking to get married. Some communities, like the Brahmins in Mithila, use genealogical records ("Panjikas") maintained by the specialists.Jathakam is drawn based on the placement of the stars and planets at the time of birth. The maximum points for any match can be 36 and the minimum points for matching is 18.
Any match with points under 18 is not considered as an auspicious match for a harmonial relationship. If the astrological chart of the two individuals (male and female) achieve the required threshold in points then further talks are considered for prospective marriage. Also the man and woman are given chance to talk and understand each other in the duration anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. Once there is an agreement then an auspicious time is chosen for the wedding to take place.
Wedding ceremonies can be expensive, and costs are typically borne by the parents. It is not uncommon for middle-or upper-class weddings to have a guest list of over 500 people. A live instrumental band is played in some parts where as some marriages have bharat is (the bridegroom's family) dancing to music just before coming to the wedding venue. Vedic rituals are performed and the family and friends then bless the couple.
Food is served to all the invitees with lots of delicacies. The wedding celebrations can take up to one week depending on the practice in that different part of India.
Historically the so called vedic marriage was but one of the few different types of Hindu marriage customs. Love marriage was also seen in historical Hindu literature and has been variously described in many names: eg Gandharva vivaha etc.
In certain poor vaishnav communities still there is a custom called kanthi-badal which is exchange of bead-garlands as a very simplified form of ritual in solitude in front of an idol of Krishna, considered a form of acceptable love marriage.
Elopement has also been described in old Hindu literature. Lord Krishna himself Eloped Rukmini on horse chariot. It is written that Rukmini's father was going to marry her to Shishupal, against her wishes. Rukimini sent a letter to Krishna informing of a place and time to pick her up.
The married Hindu women in different parts of India follow different customs. In some places, in especially eastern India, they put on vermilion on the hair parting, wear a pair of conch bangles (shankha), a pair of red bangles(pala) and an iron bangle on the left hand (loha) while their husband is alive. In Tamil Nadu, a married woman is required to wear a necklace with a distinctive pendant called a thali and silver toe-rings. Both are put on her by the husband during the wedding ceremony.
The pendant on the thali is custom-made and its design is different from family to family. Apart from this, the married woman also wears a red vermilion (Sindoor) dot on her forehead called a Kunguma pottu (Kunkuma) and (whenever possible) flowers in her hair and colored glass bangles. The married woman is encouraged to give up all of these when her husband dies (although some choose not to).
Just as Hinduism is hard to grasp and contrast against the newer, book-defined, structured religions such as Christianity and Islam, India's prevalent wedding traditions are also hard to categorize purely on a religious basis. They have a closer similarity to ancient cultures such as Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Chinese.An important thing to note is that despite the fact that the modern Hinduism is largely based on the puja form of the worship of devas as enshrined in the Puranas, a Hindu wedding ceremony at its core is essentially a Vedic yajna (a fire-sacrifice), in which the Aryan deities are invoked in the Indo-Aryan style.
It has a deep origin in the ancient ceremony of cementing the bonds of friendship/alliance (even among people of the same sex or people of different species in mythological contexts), although today, it only survives in the context of weddings. The primary witness of a Hindu marriage is the fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni, and by law and tradition, no Hindu marriage is deemed complete unless in the presence of the Sacred Fire, seven encirclements have been made around it by the bride and the groom together.Ancient system of Hindu-Vedic-marriages was fully scientific.
It did not differentiate between male and female as is being done presently.The basis for a fulfilling and happy life. Te santu jard istayah sampriyau royisnu sumansyamanau| Pasyema sharadah shatam jivema sharadah shatam shrunuyam shardah shatam||We should be able to live a graceful life that is full of mutual love and warmth. Our sentiments should be auspicious.
We should be able to see for a hundred years, live a healthy life of a hundred years and listen the music of spring for a hundred years.The sage of the above mentioned vedic aca, has emphasized that the basis of happy and fulfilling married life is the sense of unity, intimacy and love between husband and wife. Therefore they should have sex, marriage is not for self-indulgence but it should be considered a life long social and spiritual responsibility.
Married life is an opportunity for two persons to grow from life partners into soul mates.
All of the rituals vary based on family traditions. The names of the rituals also vary.
Conducted at the homes of the parents of the bride and the groom.
A decision made by the parents in front of the community members to have the marriage, sometimes using a document.Both the families comes to an agreement of the wedding date.
Approximately 15 days prior to the actual wedding, on an auspicious day, the pundit will perform a puja to Lord Ganesh (the remover of obstacles). During this puja, a piece of mauli (thread) is tied to the hands of the groom, and his parents.
This puja is done to make a humble request to Lord Ganesh that the wedding happen without any problems, beside the occasional mishap e.g. tripping over. After that day, the family performs a puja to Lord Ganesh every day until after the wedding is complete.
The mamara is an important ceremony, common to both the bride and the groom's families. This ceremony is performed by the maternal uncle of the groom/bride, who, along with his wife and family, arrives with much fanfare, and is received by the bride/groom's mother with the traditional welcome.
The sangeet sandhya is an evening of musical entertainment. The bride's family puts on a show for the groom and bride. Included as part of this event is an introduction of all the family members for the bride.
Tilak is a mark of auspiciousness. It is put on the forehead using Kumkum, a red turmeric powder. The male members of the bride's family, like her father, brother, uncles place a tilak on the forehead of the groom. This is typically followed by giving some gifts to the groom and the groom's accompanying family members requesting them to take care of the bride later.
In a mandapa - canopy or marriage stage decorated with flowers and and with a fire as witness the Hindu marriage ceremony begins. It is a long and elaborate ceremony, with every step rooted in vedic tradition, signifying various aspects of live that is to follow after the marriage. The various steps in the marriage ceremony include:Mehendi (Coloring the hands of the bride) - A day before the wedding the palm and feet of the bride are decorated with "Mahendi".
A canopy or mandapa decorated with flowers is erected at the place of wedding.On the wedding morning, various ablutionary rituals are performed on both the bride and the groom in their own homes. Their bodies are anointed with turmeric, sandalwood paste and oils, which cleanse the body, soften the skin, and make it aromatic. They are then bathed to the chanting of Vedic mantra
The Bridegroom arrives for the wedding along with his family and friends in a procession. A Hindu wedding procession, baraat, with the bridegroom on a 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 'sehra' (turban) with a 'kalgi' (brooch) pinned onto it. The turban usually has flowers extending from it to keep the grooms face covered during the wedding ceremony.
Before he departs, his relatives apply the ceremonial 'tilak' on his forehead and his sister feeds the horse or elephant sweetened grain. The 'baraat' (consisting of the groom seated on the horse or elephant, and relatives and friends of the groom) is headed by the dancing of the congregated folks. Accompanied by the rhythm of the north Indian dholak, the baraat reaches the place of the wedding.Upon arriving at the venue of the wedding, the groom is welcomed by a welcome song.
The priest commences the marriage under a canopy that is specially decorated for the ceremony. The priest invokes blessings of God for the couple to be married. The bride offers yogurt and honey to the groom as a token of purity and sweetness. The bride greets the groom by placing a garland around his neck and the groom reciprocates. Both are congratulated by guests.
The priest invokes the memory and blessings of forefathers of the bride and the groom for this auspicious occasion.Kanya Dan (Giving away of Daughter)- The bride accepts her change of status from an unmarried woman to a wife by spreading turmeric powder on her hands. Kana Dan is performed by the father (or uncle of guardian) of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding. The father pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bride groom.
The groom recites Vedic hymns to Kama, the God of love, for pure love and blessings. As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride requests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends: dharma, artha, and kama.
The bride and the bridegroom face each other, and the priest ties their garments (the bride's saree to the groom's shirt) in a knot, symbolizing the sacred union. The bride and the bridegroom garland each other and exchange the rings.
Next the nuptial fire, symbolizing the divine witness, and the sanctifier of the sacrament, is installed and worshipped. Both the bride and the groom grasp their hands together and pray to God for His blessings. Samagree, consisting of crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice, ghee (clarified butter), and twigs is offered into the sacred fire to seek God's blessings for the couple.
The bridegroom stands facing west and the bride sits in front of him facing east. He seizes her hand and recites Vedic hymns for happiness, long life, and a lifelong relationship. When the bridegroom takes the bride's hand he says : "O Sarasvati, gracious one, rich in off spring, you whom we hymm first of all the Gods,may you prosper this marriage. I seize your hand."
Here the bride offers sacrifice of food (poured into her hands by her brother or someone acting in her brother's behalf) to the Gods for their blessings. "This grain I spill. May it bring to me well-being and unite you to me. May Agni hear us."He then causes the bride to spill the grain into the fire, saying: "This woman scattering grain into the fire, prays: Blessings on my husband. May my relatives be prosperous.
The bridegroom holds the bride by the hand and both walk three times around the nuptial fire. Both offer oblations and recite appropriate Vedic hymns to Gods for prosperity, good fortune, and conjugal fidelity. They touch each others heart and pray for union of their hearts and minds.
While walking around the bridegroom repeats: "First now they bring to you in bridal procession this Surya, guiding her steps in circular motion. Return her now, O Agni, to her husband as rightful wife, with hope of children to come." Then the entire rite is repeated twice more, beginning with the rite of the fried grain. At the fourth round she pours into the re all the fried grain from the mouth of the winnowing basket saying: "To Bhaga svaha!"
At the end of each round of nuptial fire, both the bride and the groom step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like the stone. The bridegroom says the words while the bride stands up: "Come, beautiful one." And lets her put the tip of the right foot on the stone, saying: "Come, step on the stone; be strong like a stone.Resist the enemies; overcome those who attack you."
Here the bride and the bridegroom take seven steps together around the nuptial fire (Agni) and make the following seven promises to each other - As per the Vedic rituals, the bridegroom sings the following - With God as our guide,
let us take :the first step to nourish each other the second step to grow together in strength the third step to preserve our wealth the fourth step to share our joys and sorrows the fifth step to care for our children the sixth step to be together forever the seventh step to remain lifelong friends, the perfect halves to make a perfect whole After the seventh step he makes her remain where she is and says:
"With seven steps we become friends. Let me reach your friendship. Let me not be severed from your friendship. Let your friendship not be severed from me." The Spatapadi ceremony concludes with a prayer that the union is indissoluble. At the end of this ceremony, the bridegroom and bride become husband and wife.
The bridegroom then comes over bride's right shoulder touches her heart saying: "I hold your heart in serving fellowship, your mind follows my mind. In my word you rejoice with all your heart. You are joined to me by the Lord of all creatures."
The Mangala suthra Dharana is the tying of the thread containing the marks of the Vishnu or Shiva in the neck of the bride by the groom.
The groom places sindhoor (red powder) on the bride's hair symbolizing her as a married woman.
The groom's parents bless the couple and offer cloth or flower to the bride (now their daugher-in-law), symbolizing her joining of the groom's family. All those assembled shower flowers on the couple and bless them completing the marriage.
Vidaai, the couple first visits a temple, preferably that of Lord Rama and Sita, to seek their blessing from where they move towards Groom' house.
After leaving the groom's father-in-law's house, the couple come home. They are stopped at the entrance of the house by either the groom's sister or his father's sister. There, in an earthen vessel, the sister/aunt uses a mixture of salt and water to ward off evil spirits from the groom. After this, the pot is thrown on the ground and destroyed. After this, the couple enter the house.
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.
The family now indulges in a series of games and post-wedding rituals, amidst much laughter to make the new member feel comfortable. One such ritual is the Mooh dikhai. Literally translated, Mooh Dikhai means 'show your face', but this is a ritual, which helps to introduce the newly wed to members of her husband's family. Each member of the groom's family comes in turn to make an acquaintance with the new bride.
In some regions of North India, the couple returns (unaccompanied by the groom's family) to the bride's parents' home the day after the wedding, usually for an afternoon meal and evening tea. The groom is introduced to the bride's side of the extended family and her friends.
In the period between the engagement and the wedding, it is usually considered bad-luck for the groom to visit the bride's house, so the pheri (literally, return or turning-around; distinct from phere) marks the beginning of the groom's social integration into the bride's side of the family.