The wedding is performed according to Vedic rites and is conducted in front of a fire (Agni), the sustainer of life. The ceremony begins with an invocation to Lord Ganesha, signifying shubh arambh and nirvighna samapti (auspicious start and unhampered accomplishment).This is followed by the Nav Graha puja, invoking the nine planets for peace and prosperity. Ancient Indian texts indicate that various celestial bodies have great influence on the destiny of every individual.
This ceremony is a combination of rituals, performed by the respective parents and the groom amid chanting of mantras by the priest. These Vedic hymns enumerate the duties of the husband and wife towards each other.
Kanyadan (giving away the daughter) is one of the most important rites in the marriage ceremony, where the father of the bride 'gifts' his daughter to the groom and his family. Hindus believe that this is the biggest and the most valued gift that a person can bestow. All honors are accorded to the groom, including the ceremonial washing of his feet by his father-in-law, and he is offered madhu parka (a mixture of curd, honey and ghee) to the accompaniment of select mantras.
PANNIGRAHAN • HAST MILAP • HATHILO (ACCEPTING THE DAUGHTER)
The groom holds the hand of the bride and both solemnly pledge before God that they have become one and will forever love each other. The wedding knot, sometimes called hathilo, which is one end of the bride's sari or chunni, is tied to the end of the groom's scarf, signifying the union.
Agnisthapan (Lighting the fire)
The pandit lights the holy fire and starts chanting Vedic mantras to invoke the blessings of Agni, which is constantly fed with ghee to keep it burning. This is the beginning of the formal ceremony, with the bride sitting on the left side of the groom. It leaves the groom's right hand free to take on the world, to protect her if need be.
The bride and groom make an offering to Agni, who dispels darkness and ignorance while leading one into light and knowledge. The couple then walks around the sacred fire. Each round represents the four basic goals of human life:
Dharma: Moral sense to lead a good life .
+ Artha: Financial prosperity .
+ Kama: Blessing for strong, virtuous children and to share the responsibilities of home .
+ Moksha: Self-restraint and eternal physical, mental and spiritual strength.
Saptpadi (Seven Steps Together)
The bride and groom walk seven steps together to signify the beginning of their journey through life together. Each step represents a marital vow:
+ To respect and honour each other .
+ To share each other's joy and sorrow .
+ To trust and be loyal to each other.
+ To cultivate appreciation for knowledge, values, sacrifice and service .
+ To reconfirm their vow of purity, love, family duties and spiritual growth.
+ To follow the principles of dharma (righteousness).
+ To nurture an eternal bond of friendship and love.
Sindoordan And Mangalsutra Dharana
The groom puts sindoor, vermilion powder, in the mang, the central parting of the bride's hair. This is an auspicious symbol of a suhagan. Then he puts a mangalsutra (a gold chain with black beads and the marks or symbols of Vishnu or Shiva) around the neck of the bride, as a good luck symbol for married women.
This concludes the wedding ceremony, and the bride and the groom touch the feet of all the elders to get their blessings, and everyone present showers them with flower petals and rice grains to give blessings.