Subha Vivaha or marriage ceremony is a union of two souls where they take the oath of dedication in the presence of their family and friends. Wedding ceremony unites two individuals physically, mentally and spiritually. The bond of matrimony is sacred and the ceremony of marriage is conducted according to Vedic traditions.
Vedic scriptures are the most sacred scriptures in Hinduism, date back over 5000 years. Vedic wedding ceremony is therefore the oldest ceremony in the world. The wedding is conducted in Sanskrit and explained in English, Gujarati or Hindi as per the family’s request. The rituals have been simplified in modern times but the Hindu culture attaches a deep significance to them. Each step of the wedding ceremony has a profound, spiritual meaning and a life affirming purpose.
Below given is a brief description of the outlay of the wedding ceremony.
Pokwanu (Well coming of Groom) Brides family welcome the Groom and his family and friends. The groom is fed sweets and Aarati is performed and tilak is applied on his forehead. Groom them steps on the clay pot breaking into pieces, demonstrating that he has the power to overcome all the obstacles the couple may face in their married life. He is then escorted to the mandap where the marriage ceremony is held.
Madhuparka: Groom is regarded as the representative of Vishnu and the bride of Laxami, as a sign of respect groom’s feet are washed. In some traditions the bride’s as well.
Kanya Aagman (Arrival of the Bride) Bride is led by her maternal uncles enters the Mandap where a veil of white cloth (Antarpat) is held in front of groom to prevent him from seeing her. Whilst chanting the verses (Manglashtak) the veil is removed, bride and groom exchange garlands (Jai-Mala).
Kumbha Sthapana Brahmin (priest) invites Lord Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the trinity of Hinduism, to bless and to witness the ceremony.
Hastamelap/Kanyadan parents express their wishes to give away their daughter in marriage by placing her right hand in his right hand. Bride and groom are advised to remember Supreme Lord and look upon each other respect love and compassion, to be strong and righteous and to show goodwill and affection towards each other’s families.
Cheda Chedi: Taking the groom and brides clothes the grooms sister ties the knot symbolizing the eternal love for each other may always be tied and stay strong regardless of any difficulties they face in life.
Barmala: Long garland made of colorful thread placed on the groom and the bride as a symbol of blessing from both parents.
Havan A small fire is lit. The couple offers prayers to Agni (Lord of Fire) symbolizing light, power and purity by placing Ghee (Purified butter), in the flames. These prayers have a special importance, for it is Agni that dispels the darkness and ignorance from our lives and leads us to eternal light and knowledge.
Mangal Fera (around the Holy Fire) bride and groom circle the holy fire four times. The four feras (circles) represent the four basic goals of Hindu Life.Dharma (moral sense to lead a good life), Artha (prosperity), Kama (energy and passion) and Moksha (Liberation through self-realization).
Saptapadi (Seven Steps): The couple take seven vows as they receive blessings from the priest and everyone present.
Sindur: Groom places sindhoor (red vermillion powder) on bride’s hair symbolizing her as a married woman.
Mangal Sutra Dharan Similar to concept of the English Wedding Ring – a golden necklace is presented by groom to the Bride. The black beads signify protection from evil power. It is believed to protect their marriage life.
Kansar: An exchange of Sweets between the couple as a symbolic gesture that they will provide for each other’s needs and prosperity in their household life.
Aashirwad (Blessings) the priest by recitation of Vedic mantras offers blessing to the newlywed couple and also blessing is received from the parents, relatives and friends for a happily married life together.
Akhand Saubhagyavati (Blessings from Married Women) Invited married women from bride and groom family greet the couple and whisper good wishes in the brides right ear
Vidai (Departure) The bride and groom depart. The farewell to bride by her family is emotional, filled with tears, sorrow and joy, as bride leaves her parent’s home to build a new life with groom and his family.