As the wedding season is almost here I usually get invitation to various wedding ceremony. There is no doubt that Hindu wedding ceremonies are very vibrant and fun filled. But something that always made me wonder is the Hindu wedding rituals and what is so special about them. However hard I tried I could never grasp the specialty of these rituals. Then finally I asked my mother and she explained me the whole thing in details along with a bit of history lesson.
I know no one likes history that much but this lesson made me see the the institution of marriage in a whole new light. Hindu wedding is one of the most sacred among all rites. It incorporates many timeless rituals and customs. In olden days, these traditions and rituals would go on for several days, but because of today’s hectic society, such a schedule becomes quite difficult to accommodate. In the recent times, most of these traditions are performed a night before and on the day of the wedding ceremony. All the rituals of a Hindu wedding centers not not only on the bride and the groom, but also celebrates the coming together of two families. To illustrate this little thing most of the wedding rituals involve both the families.
She also enlightens that marriage is considered as a transition from studentship to householder, and as such it forms the very foundation for the remaining two stages of life. Three-quarters of human depends on the success of marriage. But still the question remembers what are those Hindu wedding traditions and why are they important.
Important Hindu Wedding Rituals / Traditions
Ganesha is considered to be very auspicious. Lord Ganesha is also known as the lord of wisdom and salvation. By invoking Lord Ganesha, he removes any obstacles that could rise in the wedding ceremony. The ceremony can then be performed without hindrances. The Ganesh Poojan can be performed anywhere from a few days to the night before the wedding.
The Arrival of the Barat or Var Yatra:
This a very beautiful and exciting ceremony. As every member of the bride’s family eagerly waits for the arrival of the Barat. In the olden days all the ladies of the bride’s family came to see the groom as it would be for the first time that they would see the groom. The Var Yatra is then welcomed by the bride’s family with Akshat (a kind of rice), Tilak (a dot on the forehead), Aarti (a plate carrying a lighted lamp), and a garland.
Before the wedding commences in a ceremony called the Grahashanti a prayer is offered to all the nine planets and they are asked to bless the new couple for their new life together.
With the commencement of the wedding the bride is led to the mandap by her brother or uncle where the groom waits with the bride’s parents. The bride’s parents then offer their daughter in marriage with a pious and solemn ritual called the kanyadan. It is said that the kanyadan is done for the wellness of both the families.
Before Kanyadan the Var Puja is done where the groom’s feet are washed with milk and water, in some customs they wash both the bride and groom’s feet to purify them for their new life together. The bride and the groom then hold their hands open and the father of the bride keeps his open palm over their palm. The mother of the bride then pours water over her husband’s hand, which subsequently trickles down on the hands of the bride and groom. This solemnizes the kanyadan with the mantras read by the pandit.
This ceremony centers on the joining of the bride and the groom. The bride’s right hand is placed over the groom’s right hand. Their hands are then tied together with a cotton thread wound around several times, while the priest recites holy verses or mantras. A single thread can easily be broken, but a thread wound around several times creates an unbreakable bond; thus, the thread here acts as a metaphor for the new couple as it binds the couple together in an unbreakable bond.
The Wedding Ceremony:
The bride and groom are next seated in front of a holy fire, while the priest recites various mantras from the Holy Scriptures. Hindus regard fire as a purifier and a sustainer of life. In the ritual called mangalfera, the bride and groom takes round of the fire seven times, praying and exchanging vows of duty, love, fidelity, and respect. In any Hindu wedding these vows validate a marriage and no marriage is complete without it.
After all the marriage rituals are completed the priest asks the newly wed to eye the pole star. The pole star is always set in the North while the other stars keep moving. This is a symbol that the newly wed should also keep their relation steadfast even when the situations around them change.
In addition to these ceremonies there is the ceremony of Bidaai and Vadhupravesh where the bride leaves her parents home and enters her in-laws home as the new bride. Hinduism is one of the oldest and richest religion and the there are also variations in these basic ceremonies among different communities. Such as you are of the Arora community and getting married to someone whom you chose from Arora matrimonial sites, some of the rituals that you follow might vary from that of a Bengali community or a Jain community. This difference is a prove that how old this culture is and how rich its roots are.
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