The Hindu wedding
ceremony is a sacrament contained within the Vedas (Ancient Hindu
scriptures), from the Vedic period, which historians place between 3000-5000
B.C. The marriage ceremony is the thirteenth among the sixteen samskara,
or rites of passage that a Hindu observes during his or her lifetime. The
marriage is performed to unite two souls so firmly that, although their
bodies remain separate, their souls unite and harmoniously become one. The
couple embarks on a new life enriched by their union with the blessings of
God, their ancestors and elders, and the good wishes of all of their friends
and relatives. The wedding takes place under the sacred alter known as the
mandapam. The four pillars of the mandapam symbolize the four
parents of the bride and groom, and the vital role they have played in
raising their children, sheltering, and supporting them.
The ceremony embraces the five elements of nature: fire, earth, water, air,
and light. These elements play an integral part in the ceremony. The
priest will read mantras from the Holy Scriptures in Sanskrit, the root of
all modern Indian languages. The ceremony commences with the music of
Naadaswaram, an Indian wind instrument. The marriage rites are as follows:
In a private ceremony before
the start of the wedding, the bride performs a puja to invoke the blessings
of Goddess Gowri, the icon of an ideal wife for a long, prosperous, and
happy married life.
Arrival of the Groom
and Ganesha Puja
The groom is escorted to
the mandapam by his family members and friends, and is received by the
bride’s parents. He prepares himself for the ensuing marriage rites by
performing a purification ceremony. This ceremony begins with a prayer
to Lord Ganesha, who is the remover of all obstacles and symbolizes
truth, friendship, and happiness.
A sanctified thread dipped
in turmeric water, which protects the wearer from harms and trouble, is
tied to the right wrist of the groom with the blessings of Durga, the
Goddess of Power.
Arrival of the Bride
Before the bride enters, a
cloth screen is held in front of the groom. The couple will not see
each other until the “Sumuhurtham”, or auspicious moment previously
determined by Hindu astrology. The maternal aunts of the bride escort
her to the mandapam, followed by her female cousins and close friends.
The bride is carrying a coconut sprinkled with turmeric and kumkum
(Vermillion powder) to ward off evil sprits. She seats herself between
her parents on the opposite side of the screen from the groom.