According to the Hindu religion, Marriage is the Thirteenth of the Sixteenth ceremonies in a person's life. It is a ritual and as such is solemnized in accordance with the VEDAS, the holy scriptures of the Hindu religion that date back certain thousand years.
Hindu Ceremonies can be last for hours, days or even weeks. Although the main wedding function itself is held on one day, there are a number of ceremonies that are commonly held on different days preceding the wedding:
Engagement ('Sagai', the Ring Ceremony) - this event is organized to exchange the wedding rings (generally Gold or Diamond). The couple welcomes each other with garlands and sweets are exchanged between the two families. The Sagai is often completed a dinner party for some friends and relatives.
Among Gujarati families the bride's family presents the 'Matli', which consists of significant quantities savoury snacks and Indian sweets, to the groom's.
• In Christians, the engagement ceremony is very much like a social gathering and formal announcement of marriage where the would-be groom and bride exchange engagement rings.
• In most of the North Indian states, the ceremony is held as soon as the marriage details are finalized. Along with the ring ceremony, the ritual of ‘Tilak' i.e. greeting the groom with auspicious vermilion paste and rice is performed by bride's brother. Then the exchange of baskets of fruits, dry fruits and sweets takes place between both the families. The bride is also gifted with some traditional family Jewelry from the groom's parents.
• In the South Indian families, the engagement ceremony is quite different from those of North Indian families; you will be surprised to know that the presence of the groom and bride is not compulsory on the engagement function. The engagement ceremony in South India is more like a commitment between both the families of the would-be bride and groom. The most important ritual in the south Indian engagement function is the exchange of 'tattu' i.e. 'engagement plate' which consists of coconut, flowers, turmeric, beetle nuts and beetle leaves.
This is a festive occasion celebrated by the bride's family. The bride and female members of her family have henna painted on their hands and feet while the rest of the family celebrate with songs and dance. Mehndi signifies the power of love in a marriage so brides try to leave it on as long as possible! Mehndi parties are often held at home and end with dinner for the family and friends.
But in Destination wedding there will be different theme for ‘Mehndi’ ceremony with some props, tarot card reader, photo booth,Selfei point, dance performances with Hi-tea for family members.
Raas Garba (Sangeet Party)
Though sangeet function is an important pre-wedding function of all north Indian weddings, it is most popular trend among Gujaratis and Punjabis. Among the Gujaratis Garba dance is a favored alternative. They are mostly held in a big banquet, or garden,In many families, the Sangeet Party is a much larger affair held as a separate joint event for both families. It is an opportunity to sing songs, eat, drink and dance the night away. Among Gujaratis, Raas Garba is a favoured alternative. These are held in a hall and involve traditional dance (Garba), and dandia raas (dancing with sticks). The Raas Garba usually ends with a light supper for all those attending.
. In Punjabis, the Giddha nad Bhangra are the popular dance forms for the Sangeet night ceremony, The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputali, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindar, Kachchhighori, Tejaji,parth dance etc. are the part of Sangeet night of the traditional Rajasthani culture according to the place.
Ritual of Ghari Puja is performed the night before the wedding. It symbolizes the journey the couple is taking initially in their lives together. It marks the beginning of festivity there by the time to serve food to the guests. The married ladies whose husbands are alive grind wheat and pound turmeric. This ritual also symbolizes that the house should prosper always. The boy fills his hands with grain which is offered to the priest. This indicates that though he is entering the Grihastha Ashram he will never forget to give charity. He would look after the needy. This ceremony takes place concurrently at the same time both in the homes of the groom and the bride.
Oil and turmeric root is rubbed by the mothers on the bride's and groom's hands, feet and backbone. This is a form of cosmetic as well as it helps their physical bodies to become more stronger. The mothers of both the bride and the groom along with the husbands of their elder daughters come out of their house with pot of water on their heads. This pot is placed outside the house through which a knife is passed in order to break any evil spell. The son-in-law of the family would be there as a protector against any intruder. They amidst a racket enter the house to ward off any evil spirits that may cast an evil eye on the marriage celebrations. The bride and the groom wear old etathas which are torn by relatives and friends amidst merriment. This signifies that their old life is over and they are starting a new life.
Money is given to the priest by the son in law after circling it around the pot of water. Wheat has to be offered by the bride and groom to the priest. This is distributed to him in a cup twenty one times.
Outfits & Jewellery
The bridal outfit includes:
Generally, a red and white sari heavily embroidered with gold thread. The white signifies purity and the red signifies fertility. It is customary for the bridegroom's family to gift the bride a wedding sari, so she may actually end up wearing two saris! The first, a simpler silk sari given to her by her maternal uncle (mama), and covering her head, a heavier embroidered sari given to her by her husband's family. The groom also wears white (ivory or beige). His outfit can be a traditional Sherwani (long tunic embroidered with gold thread) worn with Kurta pyjamas, or a simpler dhoti and tunic. Both families use the occasion to wear their finery and much of their traditionally ornate gold jewellery. This is not custom, so much as fashion!
In Rajasthan: Bride’s Wear Red Poshak/ Lehanga that look more royal and Grooms wear traditional Achkan (Sherwani).
The Wedding Ceremony
The wedding day usually commences with a fast for both the bride and groom. The groom will leave his house accompanied by his best man and one of his younger female relatives whose job it is to keep the groom awake by shaking a metal pot filled with a few coins and a betel nut over his head and they crack some jokes to make it more entertaining. The history behind this curious custom is that weddings in India were traditionally held in the evening at which time many a groom might succumb to slumber!
On leaving his house, the groom's car may be impeded by the younger female members of his family who demand a “Nek” (Gift) in exchange for allowing him to leave for his wedding ceremony.
The majority of the wedding ceremony will take place in a Mandap (the four-pole canopy at centre stage). The sacred fire in the Mandap symbolises not only the illumination of the mind, knowledge and happiness but is also a clean and pure witness to the ceremony as it progresses.
The ceremony itself is a collection of rituals performed by the bride, bridegroom and their respective parents and close relatives. The priest chants "mantras" from the Vedas that were originally written in Sanskrit.
He will also use the following in his ceremonies:
• Fresh flowers - to signify beauty;
• Kumkum (vermilion) – red colour powder used for marking the forehead to signify good luck and to say that your soul (husband) is with you.
• Coconut - to signify fertility;
• Rice, jaggery and other grains - to signify the food necessary for sustenance of human life;
• Ghee (purified butter) - to feed the sacred fire;
The wedding day starts with a prayer of Lord Ganesh whose divine grace dispel all evils and promotes a successful and peaceful completion of the ceremony.
Grah Shanti (Worship to the Nine Planets)
This is a prayer to the nine planets of our Solar system. Ancient Indian studies indicated that various celestial bodies have an influence on the destiny of every individual. The effect of the nine planets is meant to be the most profound. During this puja the Gods associated with these planets are asked to infuse courage, peace of mind and inner strength to the bride and groom to help them endure life's sufferings.
The entrance of the wedding place is adorned with toran. In this ceremony, the bridegroom has to hit the toran with a stick of neem. The act of 'toranachar' signifies warding off of evil eyes.
The Welcome (Parchan)
The bride's mother welcomes the bridegroom with a garland and she escorts him to the mandap. The father of the bride washes the right foot of the bridegroom with milk and honey. At the end of the welcome, a white sheet is held to prevent this bridegroom seeing the arrival of the bride.
Arrival of the Bride
The bride is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncle (Mama), female cousins and friends. In some wedding ceremonies she may be carried in a small carriage to the mandap.
Kanyadaan (Entrusting of the Daughter)
Consent of the parents is obtained for the wedding to proceed. The bride's parents give their daughter to the groom by putting the bride's right hand into the groom's right hand (Hastamelap, joining of hands) while reciting sacred verse. The curtain separating the bride and groom is then lowered and the couple exchange flower garlands. The elders of the house place an auspicious white cotton cord around the couple's shoulder's to protect them from the evil influences. This also symbolizes the couple's bond. The groom holds the bride's hand and they both take vows to love cherish and protect each other throughout life.
Ganthibandhan (tying the knot)
The priest ties the wedding knot as a symbol of the permanent union between the bride and groom as husband and wife.
Agni Puja (evocation of the holy fire)
The priest sets up a small fire in a kund (cooper bowl). Agni (fire) is the mouth of Vishnu and symbolizes the illumination of mind, knowledge and happiness. The remainder of the ceremony is conducted around the fire.
Shilarohana (stepping on the stone)
The bride places her right foot on a stone. The bridegroom tells her to be as firm as the stone in his house so that the can face their enemies and the difficulties of life together.
Laja homa (putting parched rice into the sacred fire)
Three obligations are offered to the sacred fire. The brother of the bride puts into the bride's hand parched rice, half of which slips into the bridegroom's hand. Mantras are chanted. The bride prays to Yama, the God of Death, that he grant long life, health, happiness and prosperity to the bridegroom.
Mangalfera (walking around the fire)
The couples walk around the sacred fire four times.
Each time they stop to touch with their toe a stone in their path. This symbolizes obstacles in life that they will overcome together. These four rounds stand for the four basic human goals:
• Dharma - righteousness
• Artha - monetary accomplishment
• Kama - energy and passion in life
• Moksha - liberation from everything in life.
The groom, signifying his contribution in helping the union to attain dharma, artha and kama, leads the first three rounds. The bride signifying their continual journey spiritual liberation leads the last round.
Saptapadi (seven steps)
The bride and groom take seven steps together around the fire. It is said in Hindu philosophy that if two people walk seven steps together then they will remain lifelong friends. They exchange sacred vows at the beginning of each encircling walk. At the end of each walk, the open palms of the bride are filled with puffed rice by her brother signifying wealth and prosperity. The seven steps and their promises are:
1.Let us take the first step to provide for our household, keeping a pure diet and avoiding those things that might harm us.
2. Let us take the second step to develop our physical, mental and spiritual powers.
3. Let us take our third step to increase our wealth by righteous and proper means.
4. Let us take out fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love, respect and trust.
5. Let us take the fifth step so that we may be blessed with strong, virtuous and heroic children.
6. Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity.
7. Let us take the seventh step to be true companions and remain life-long partners by this wedlock.
Saubhagya Chinha (blessing the bride)
The bridegroom blesses the bride by putting kumkum or sindhur (vermilion powder) at the parting of her hair (or on her forehead) and by giving her a sacred necklace (Mangal Sutra). The Mangal Sutra represents the couple's togetherness, love and sacred union.
Haridaya-Sparsha (touching of hearts)
The bride and bridegroom touch each other's heart reciting promises to each other.
The bride and groom feed each other four times for nourishment of the bone, muscle, skin and soul.
The priest blesses the bride and groom. Flower petals and rice are given to the guests to shower them on the bride and groom with blessings. The wedding guests can then give their individuals blessings to the bride and groom and once completed, the marriage ceremony ends. Guests are invited to enjoy a sumptuous meal with the newlyweds.
Viddai (Bride's departure)
The farewell to the bride by her family and friends is a very emotional episode. The bride is leaving her parents home to build a life with her husband and his family. She leaves with tears of joy and sorrow.
Before the wedding car departs for the Hindu temple, the priest will place a coconut under the front wheel of the car and wait for it to be broken by the weight of the car. The historic significance of this is that in the old days the couple would use a horse drawn carriage and the breaking of the coconut ensured that the vehicle was roadworthy for the journey.
The pilucinchuanu concludes the entire ceremony.