The Traditional Hindu Wedding Ceremony and its Significance
There are several Hindu wedding traditions that are observed. One of these is that the date of the wedding is determined in the stars. Astrologists use the birth dates of the couple to calculate the position of stars and planets to reflect the couple’s celestial union. The couple’s gautra or ancestral lineage is announced. Hindu law dictates that marriages shouldn’t occur within the same clan.
Before the actual wedding, a pre-party known as sangeet is held. The family of the bride sings a traditional folk song to the family of the groom to welcome them.
Henna paint is used to apply beautiful designs to the feet and hands of the bride. It usually occurs 1 day before the wedding ceremony is held.
Mandap – The mandap is a structure made for the marriage ceremony. It’s decorated with anything from crystals and fabric to greenery and flowers. A fire is kindled in the center of the wedding altar or mandap. The fire serves as the witness of the wedding. The brother of the bride gives 3 fistfuls of puffed rice to her, which she then offers to the fire. This is called a homam.
Jai Mala – The groom and bride exchange floral garlands to express their desire to marry each other.
Kanyadaan – The kanyadaan is the moment where the bride’s father gives his daughter away by placing her hands on the hands of the groom. He may also pour water into her hand.
Saptapadi – The couple’s garments are tied together. This is an essential ceremony in North Indian Hindu weddings. In North Indian tradition, the bride and groom make 7 circles around a ceremonial fire. Each round signifies a specific blessing they ask of the gods. In South India, the bride and groom walk 7 steps together to symbolize their friendship. The primary significance of this ritual is establishing friendship, which is the foundation of a Hindu nuptial.
Sindoor – A red-orange powder called sindoor is applied to the hair of the bride during the ceremony. This signifies that the bride is now a married woman.
Red Dress – The garments of the bride are red. The red color symbolizes prosperity, fertility, and the rising sun.
Ganesha – Hindu weddings start with a prayer to Ganesha, the remover of problems and the god of good fortune and beginnings. Salutations are given so that Ganesha may bless and guide the married life of the couple.
Raksha Bandhan – During Raksha Bandhan, cords are tied to the wrists of the groom and the bride. The cords signify protection as marriage is considered to be a difficult stage in life.
Mangala Sutra – The groom places a mangala sutra or necklace of gold and black beads on his bride. Prayers are offered to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of fortune, prosperity and wealth. The bride is believed to get blessings throughout her married life.
Marriage is considered a lifelong spiritual and social responsibility and an opportunity for 2 individuals to grow into soul-mates.