The traditional customs involve various ceremonies that are performed at the said time and place. Usually, there is a Pre marriage celebration in some of the weddings, where the bride is welcomed into the groom’s family with a piece of jewelry that belonged to the ancestors. This piece of jewelry marks the entry of the bride to be. The marriage begins with the Naandi ceremony wherein both families pray to the God for an uninterrupted wedding.
The pre wedding rituals commence with Naandi. It is performed by both the bride and the groom in their houses. It is done to ensure the marriage takes place uninterruptedly. Just before the groom leaves for the bride’s village, all the items for marriage are placed in front of Lord Almighty to seek his blessings. This is called Devarasamaaradhane ceremony. After this, both the bride and the groom are applied turmeric paste.
Nishchitaarta: During arranged marriage, the horoscope of the prospective bride and groom are matched. Weddings are fixed only when the stars align perfectly, predicting a happy and prosperous future. The parents agree to the match and exchange a plate containing betel leaves, nuts, fruits and coconut. This ritual is equivalent of an engagement ceremony. Parents of the groom visit the bride’s place and offer her a saree, blouse piece, coconut and sweets. The bride’s parents also visit the groom’s house to gift him dhoti, coconut, fruits and sweets. The date of the marriage is generally decided by the priest during this event.
Naandi: A few days prior to the wedding, the Naandi ceremony is performed in both the bride and groom’s places. It is basically a puja performed by the family priest to ensure that the wedding ceremony goes without any hitches or problems. Prayers are offered to pithrus to invoke their blessings by the parents of bride and bride groom. A traditional copper pot or kalasha filled with holy water is placed with a coconut on top, and this marks the beginning of the wedding celebrations. The pot symbolizes a pot of Amrutha or the Nectar of Life, and this ceremony ensures that the couple is blessed a life of abundance, health, wisdom, and longevity. The first wedding invitation is presented to the Almighty during this ceremony so that he will bless the would-be couple with his presence and remove all obstacles from their life paths.
Devarasamaaradhane: It is another prayer ceremony conducted before the wedding. All the items of marriage are placed in front of the Lord (Mostly family diety, Ganesha) and thereafter the groom and his whole family member make a prayer in front of the Lord to get his blessing. After the prayer, the groom leaves his house for marrying the bride. As part of the same ritual, hooviLya is also performed where the bride washes the feet of both un-married and married girls (atleast 5 sumangalis/muttaide), performs pooja, offers fruits and other eatables and gets their blessings.
On the wedding day the first ritual is Mantapa puja, according to which the mantapa and the hall where the wedding is to be conducted are purified. After this the bride’s father worships the groom by washing his feet. This is known as Varapuja. This is followed by bride’s entry to the mantap. Here, they exchange garlands on the chant of holy mantras. Next is the Dhare custom, wherein the bride’s parents give away her daughter to the groom, by placing a coconut and betel over their hands and pouring holy water. Then the groom ties mangalsutra around bride’s neck. After this, Saptapadi ceremony is held and the couple takes seven rounds around the sacred fire.
In traditional marriage ceremony, a bride generally wears a Navari Sari with green glass bangles. She also wears traditional ornaments of gold. The bridegroom mainly wears dhoti, angavastra with pheta. He also wears a turban on his head. He holds a stick, which is purified in holy place, with his right hand.
Mantapa Pooje: Mantapa refers to the area where all the rituals of the impending wedding are to be performed. Before any of that starts, the priest performs a puja that aims to purify the Mantapa and the wedding venue as well. This is known as Mantapa Puja.
Vara Pooje: In Hindu traditions, the groom is considered to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. In that respect, he is worshipped by the bride’s party. He is accompanied to the wedding mantapa by his future father-in-law and is asked to a seat of prominence. His feet are then washed by the bride’s father and a puja is performed in his honor. He is also presented with a set of silk dhoti and scarf known as pitambar. He is to take part in the wedding rituals wearing the clothes presented to him by the bride’s parents.
Kaashi Yatra: Kashi Yatra is a unique custom performed where the groom is dressed in the traditional katche Panche. He will wear slippers, umbrella, 2 big rings [which is made up of rice flour] to the ear and hold walking stick in the hand. This is a very interesting part of the wedding where the groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage to renounce the world. It is an interesting ritual, wherein the groom pretends of leaving for Kashi as he is devoid of a suitable bride. He will pretend that he will go to Kaashi and spend the rest of his life there. He stops when his maternal uncle shows him the bride he has chosen for him. As he steps out of the kalyana mantapa the bride’s father & groom’s uncle pleads to stop him and will persuades him to stay back by marrying his daughter. The groom makes many objections but finally accepts and returns to the mantapa to get married! Kashi Yatra is symbolic. It gives the option to groom to leave the worldly treasures and lead the life of an ascetic or get married and become a householder.
Gowri Puja: All the women of both the houses pray to Goddess Gowri. The bride invokes Goddess Gowri and prays for the welfare of her would-be. The bride also gives ‘Bagana’ to the ‘Muttaide'(s) of the groom’s house. Giving Bagana is a means of seeking blessings from the elderly married women who’ve had successful married lives.
Kanyaadaana: The complexity of an Indian Hindu marriage is owing to the fact that there are many rituals performed according to Vedic practices and hymns. Kanyadaana is also such a ritual, which apart from being vital to the ceremony, tugs at the emotional cord of the bride’s parents. This is the moment when their beloved daughter finally belongs to her husband. Kanyadaana is performed on the main day function of the wedding. It is performed by the Father of the bride, where in he entrusts his daughter to the groom. In the absence of the father, Kanyadaana is performed by an elderly relative or member of the family. The bride is carried to the Mantapa by her maternal uncle. The bride and the groom are made to stand facing each other and a white cloth is tied between them to obstruct the view. As per the practice, the father of the bride places the right hand of the bride over the right hand of the groom. Sri Lakshmi Narayana idol is kept along with a coconut on top of the bride & groom’s palm.Then the father of the bride pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bride groom. As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride requests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends: Dharma, Artha, and Kama. The groom makes the promise by repeating three times that he will not fail the bride in realizing Dharma, Artha and Kama. After this, the priest recites Vedic hymns. This way the father gives her daughter as a gift to the groom. As per tradition, groom is considered a form of Lord Vishnu. Thus, presenting him gifts is deemed as the greatest honour for the parents of the bride. As a result, they offer their daughter to the groom, who is their most cherished gift. As a symbol of acceptance, the groom touches the right shoulder of the bride, promising to take care of her and holding her responsibility.
Maangalya Dhaarana: Amidst chanting of vedic hymns, the groom ties the knot to bride. In Hindu weddings, one of the most sacred customs is of tying mangalsutra. It is basically a black and gold beaded necklace with a gold or diamond pendant. Mangalsutra carries immense importance in Hindu weddings as well as in the lives of Hindu married women. A mangalsutra is tied around the neck of the bride by the groom during the wedding rituals. It is a symbol of marriage. The word mangalsutra can be deciphered as ‘sacred thread or cord’; as ‘mangal’ means auspicious and ‘sutra’ means thread or cord. Though in appearance it looks like a jewellery item, it is definitely much more than that. The concept is thought to have originated in South India, where it is known as thali or thaali or maangalya. It is a yellow thread painted with turmeric paste and is tied around the bride’s neck with three knots. It has a great importance in Indian tradition.Its believed that Godess Shri Mahalakshmi resides in the Thali and protects the marriage from any evil.
- The first knot represents her obedience to the husband.
- The second to parents.
- The third represents her respect for God.
It depicts the union of the husband and the wife and protects them from evil. Whatever might be the meaning, mangalsutra occupies a significant position in Hindu marriages and rituals. Not to forget, women have become quite flexible nowadays, in relation with the custom of wearing mangalsutra. Apart from the mangalsutra, the Toe rings, the Kumkuma, bangles and nose ring are also offered to the bride. All these ceremonies are performed in front of Homa Kunda. Agnideva the fire God, is evoked to witness the proceedings. The priest lights a sacred fire in the presence of the bride and groom.
Bride: I am responsible for the home and all household responsibilities.
Bride: I will be by your side as your courage and strength. I will rejoice in your happiness. In return, you will love me solely.
3. With this third step be my prosperity
Groom: May we grow wealthy and prosperous and strive for the education of our children. May our children live long.
Bride: I will love you solely for the rest of my life, as you are my husband. Every other man in my life will be secondary. I vow to remain chaste.
Bride: I will shower you with joy, from head to toe. I will strive to please you in every way I can.
Bride: I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honor you, and will strive to fulfill all your wishes.
Bride: I will always be by your side.
Bride: As God is witness, I am now your wife. We will love, honor and cherish each other forever.