In Hinduism, marriage is viewed as a sacrament and not a contract. It is a life-long commitment of one wife and one husband, and it is the strongest social bond that takes place between a man and a women.
The second of the four states of life – the householder stage – begins when a man and a women marry and start a house hold, for it is only through marriage that the institution of family is nurtured and maintained.
In the life of a Hindu, marriage is not a concession to human weakness, but a means for spiritual growth. Man and women are soul mates who, through the union of marriage, can direct the energy associated with their individual instincts and passions into the progressive evolution of their souls.
Hindi marriage is strictly based on love, absolute trust, mutual affection, the capacity to adjust and the sharing of responsibilities, equally. At every stage of the wedding ceremony when the incantations, (Mantras) from the Vedas are uttered, prayers are offered to insure a smooth life. The duties are clearly demarcated and freedom given to both. The union being sacred, marriage is irrevocable and everlasting.
The Hindi Marriage constitutes of about 31 steps, from the formal introduction of two people, to their actual moving into a new home.
On the day of the wedding, the exciting preparation and involvement reach the zenith. Invites adorn themselves with ornaments and beautiful dresses for it is time to celebrate Nishant leaving with his entourage for Sanjana’s residence (Ceremonial Hall) where the actual ceremony will take place.
At an appointment time Nishant and his party arrive and they are warmly greeted by Sanjana’s father. The temple of this meeting is the embrace shared by the two fathers. They express their joys in the public for bringing their two families together. They say the search for suitors for Sanjana and Nishant have now ceased and they anticipate the strength of this new bond.
Pooja is done to Ganeshji – remover of all obstacles. This pooja is done at the entrance of the residence. Nishant is escorted to a specially prepared place for this pooja. Pooja is done to Ganeshji, Gowry, Prithevi, Naughraha, Lakshmi and is followed by Havan. There is rejoicing by the member of both families. The loud beating of the tassa and drums create the mood complementary of such a joyous occasion.
Today Nishant is prince and royality is extended to him. Nishant’s mother and her friend give a very honored welcome. They perform the Aartie (luster light) beseeching God’s Grace and Blessings. For many, this will be the first time Nishant is seen
Nishant and his party are offered a comfortable place of rest before the Ceremony begins.
This is a very moving stage of the wedding and it is done by Sanjana’s maternal uncle as Sanjana’s mother sits behind her. A mango leaf is circled over Sanjana and her mother’s head then Sanjana bites the end of the stem and keeps it in her mouth. This is done five times (this procedure is repeated five times using, five leaves. The five pieces are then placed in Sanjana mother’s right hand then voluntarily taken in her mouth. This is an act that has profound significance; by biting off the end of the steam, Sanjana silently sends a message to her mother indicating her intent to depart from her parent’s home voluntarily. Her mother’s brother reassures his sister that he will do all that is possible to ensure that grief will not be experienced at the departure of Sanjana.
Taag-paath or raksha sutra
Nishant’s older brother places a garland or woolen thread around Sanjana’s neck, vowing to protect his sister-in-law at all times in a dignified manner.
Var Pooja & Madhuparaka
Nishant is greeted by the guests as he entered the Mandap for the first time. Sanjana’s father honors him by offering him a seat and requests him to partake of Madhuparka (a mixture of Dahi, Gee, and Honey) symbolic of a happy union.
Kanya Pooja & Kanyadana
Seated aside Sanjana, her parents worship her as the Divine Lakshmi as they prepare to give her away as Kanyadana to Lord naravan (Nishant) emotions run high as Sanjana’s brother gives her away with the following Samkalpa: “For the obtaining of absolute happiness, as the consequence of Kanyadana, for purifying preceding and succeeding generations through the progeny in our daughter, and for the propitiation of Lakshmi and Vishnu we give our precious daughter to you to cherish, love and care for life-long in accordance with Dharmic Principles.”
Pani-Grahana & Laja Home
With great admiration for Sanjana, Nishant clasps her right hand tenderly and says, “May we live together forever in love.” They make offerings to the fire.
Pratigya & Gaath Bandhan
Nishant and Sanjana pledge (Pratigya) to be life companions. The nuptial knot (Gaath Bandhan) is affixed, thereby solemnizing their pledge.
Bhavar laja Homa & Agni Pradaksina
Special grains, symbolizing fertility and prosperity are offered by Sanjana and Nishant to Agni with an appeal to bear testimony to their marriage. The offering are made while Sanjana and Nishant circle (Bhavar) the fire seven times; thereby announcing to the world her resolve to always be the first person to her husband’s side.
Sapta-Padi & Shila Rohana
Together, Nishant and Sanjana take Seven Steps (Sapta-Padi) forward to the North seeking Divine Grace for the fulfillment of their spiritual material needs. The ends of their garments (the bridegroom’s scarf and upper garment of the bride) and tied together by the Pundit.
The Seven Vows are:
“May the first step lead to food that is both nourishing and pure.”
“May the second step lead to strength (at the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels).”
“May the third step lead to prosperity.”
“May the fourth step lead to all round happiness.”
“May the fifth step lead to progeny (noble and virtuous children).”
“May the sixth step lead to long life.”
“May the seventh step lead friendship (through harmony, understanding).”
XXX request YYY to place her right foot on a stone (Shila Rohana) proclaiming her devotion to her husband, her uppermost thought will be solid and unwavering as a rock.
The marriage vows (Saat Vachan) are recited by the Pundit and Sanjana and Nishant answer positively. Nishant in a soft and gentle tone urges his bride to be always firm, radian and brilliant as the sun, such that her glories can be sung throughout the three worlds.
Nishant and Sanjana exchange garlands (Mala) made of flowers of love. This is indicative of their acceptance of each other as a life - long companion.
Nishant applies sindoor to Sanjana forehead, which she will always wear, herefore signifying that she is a HINDU married women. The sacred moment, a life long treasure to the couple is indicative of their union being based on the highest principle of Sanatan Dharam.
The wedding rings (Angothi) are blessed by the Pundit and exchanged between Nishant and Sanjana.
Ashirvaad & Prarthna
The Pundit, their parents and elders praying for the couples’ health, wealth and spiritual progress, shower final benedictions on XXX and YYY.
Peeke Gharaaj (Wedding Song)
“Peeke ghar aaj pyaaree dulhaniya chalee. Ro-e maataa pitaa unkee duniyaa chalee”
The beautiful bride is now on her way to her marital home.
“Bhaiyyaa behnaa de dil ko lagee thes re Meri Kismat me jaanaa thaa parades re Chhorke apen daadul ka ananaa chalee.”
The brides reflects on her family. She knows that her brothers and sisters are pained at her departure, but she reminds them that she is a HINDU girl, and all HINDU girls are required at some time or the other to abandon their parental home to adopt a new home, very far away. For this reason, today she is leaving her parents home.
“Maiyyaa baalaa ne such mohe saare diye More gaune me chaand aur sitaare diyee Sitaare diyee Saath leke mai saaraa gaganwaa chalee.”
Her parents gave her all joy and cheer while she stayed with them. Even in this marriage ceremony, they brought down the moon and stars for her to make her and her wedding radiant. Today, she takes with her all this radiance and is about to proceed to her new times.
“Ko-L gun dhange na mujhme ko-l baat hai Mooree churiyo ki laaj ab tore haath hai tore sang mai jeevan ko sanjnaa chalee.”
Now she reflects on her new – found partner in life, her Lord. “I have nothing special to offer you, my Lord. All I give you is the purity of character, honesty and dedication to duty, symbolized in these my wedding bracelets. Protect my honor Lord, for I subject all my being to you in return, I promise you life long companionship