Hindu Wedding Ceremony
The Hindu wedding ceremony is
based on Vedic traditions and rituals originating in the Rig-Veda, the
earliest of the four ancient Sanskrit books of knowledge which form the
basis of Hinduism.
Marriage in Hindu religion is aimed at fulfilling the three goals,
namely dharma - duties towards family and society, Prajana - begetting
of progeny and Shradh - to perform rituals. They enter the relationship
of husband and wife by taking the vows of being together in their
pursuits of dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
Although the variety of Hindu marriages is amazing, there are some
underlying similarities, which unifies all of them. Inspite of the
common rituals, each regional wedding has it's own flavor. The culture
from which one comes plays a very important part in a Hindu wedding.
A formal engagement precedes the wedding ceremony. This ceremony, called
a Misri (sugar) ceremony, confirms both families' intentions of
marriage. To begin the ceremony, the blessings of Lord Ganesha are
prayed for. Then seven married women make a Ganesh symbol (clockwise
swastika) on a pot of misri (crystallised sugar), and ask Lord Ganesha
to bless the couple. The seven women represent the seven forms of God
(one form for each day of the week).
After these preparations the couple and their parents perform a puja.
The puja welcomes the Gods and asks for their blessings. They pray to
Lord Ganesha, Varun Devta, Laxmi & Narayan, the Gods on governing the 9
planets, and Om (i.e. Triumvirate Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).
The bride and groom to-be then exchange garlands as a mutual welcome
into each other's lives. Gold rings are also exchanged in hope of a long
and happy marriage. Because the fourth finger is thought to have a vein
leading directly to the heart, the rings are placed on the fourth finger
of the right hand of the groom and the fourth finger of the left hand of
the bride. This action produces one complete heart for the couple.
After exchanging rings, the groom's family offers a basket of fruit,
clothing and other items to the girl as a symbol of acceptance into
their family. The groom's family then gives the bride's family a promise
of marriage and feeds them Misri to finalize the engagement.
Before the wedding, planners organize the building of a mandap. A mandap
(where the wedding ceremony is held), is normally a wooden canopy
erected upon four pillars, brightly decorated for the occasion. Each of
the four pillars of the mandap represents one of the four parents
involved in the wedding. All four pillars are ritually blessed before
Before the wedding, a sangeet party is held. The bride and groom may
have individual sangeet or a large one together. Music and food are
central to this party, as family and friends dance and eat late into the
Nav Graha Puja
Several days before the wedding, a Nav-Graha puja is held. Indian
astrologers have long respected the influence that the heavenly bodies
have on destiny, and the nine planets are thought to have the most
effect. The Nav-Graha puja celebrates the Gods associated with the nine
planets and asks them to bless the couple and their families.
To familiarize the bride with future in-laws, a sagri is held at the
home of the bride. The female relatives of the groom visit the bride,
bringing flowers, toiletries and jewellery. These items and flowers are
gifted to the bride as a sign of affection and acceptance.
Mehandi (Henna – Painting of Hands & Feet)
This festive occasion is usually held in the late afternoon. This is
primarily a ladies tea party; however the male relatives are allowed to
be present. On this day, the future bride has her hands and feet
intricately patterned with a paste, which is a recipe of henna oil,
lemon juice and some water tinted with tea. The application of Mehandi or
henna takes about four hours to complete. Ideally, the bride-to-be
should not wash her hands until the paste has completely dried. Guests
at the party also get their hands designed with Mehandi. Mehandi signifies
the strength of love in a marriage. The darker the Mehandi, the stronger
The night before the wedding, a Ghari puja is held. This is a religious
ceremony performed on the eve of the wedding day in the respective homes
of the couple. The priest performs prayers with rice, coconut, wheat
grains, oil, betel nuts and turmeric. During this event, the mother and
close female relatives dress up in their finery. They carry earthenware
pots of water on their head and plant a small stalk in their garden in
celebration of the marriage.
The bride and groom are dressed in old clothing. Their individual
families then tear off their old clothes, symbolising the exit from
their old, unmarried lives. Nowadays, the Ghari Puja is often combined
with the cleansing ceremony (Pithi) during which the bride and
bridegroom are pasted with turmeric powder in a beautification process.