VIVAHA (MARRIAGE CEREMONIES)
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Wedding Ceremony : The wedding ceremony is basically
performed by the couple, the bride’s parents and the groom’s
parents. However, the bride’s brother, bride’s uncle
(mother’s brother) are also called upon to give away the
planet worship or the Graha Pujan, which I have explained
earlier, is then performed.
number of homas (rituals) follow, the chief among them being
Rastrabhrt, Jaya, Abhyatana and Laja Homa. The first contains
prayers for victory and protection from hostile powers known
or unknown to the bridegroom. The last homa is a ritual
symbolical of prosperity. The brother of the bride pouts fried
grains mixed with sami leaves out of his cupped hands into her
cupped hands. The bride offers them with firmly joined hands
to the fire while the bridegroom recites the verses : “To
the God Aryman the girl has made sacrifice, to Agni; may He,
loosen his hold on her, not from the husband’s side; may he,
husband live long: may relations be prosperous. May this
sacrifice bring prosperity to thee, and may it unite me with
thee. May Agni (God of Fire) grant us that.”
The panigrahana or the grasping of the bride’s hand comes
next. The bridegroom seizes the right hand of the bride with
“I seize thy hand for the sake of happiness, that thou
mayest live to old age with me, thy husband. Bhaga, Aryama,
Savitr. Purandhi, these gods have given thee to me, that art
thou. That art thou, this am I. The Saman am I, the Rk thou:
the Heaven I, the Earth thou: Come let us marry. Let us beget
offspring. Let us acquire many sons and may they reach old
age. Loving, bright with genial minds, may we see a hundred
autumns. May we hear a hundred autumns.” This ceremony is
symbolical of the taking charge of responsibility of the girl.
The responsibility is very sacred, as the girl is supposed to
be given not only by his father but also the above guardian
deities who are witnesses to every solemn contract. The prayer
in the end is suggestive of a fruitful, prosperous and happy
the stone: In
order to make the wife firm in her devotion and fidelity to
him, the husband makes her tread on a stone to the north of
the fire, with her right foot, repeating the verse: “Tread
on this stone, like a stone be firm. Tread the foes down; turn
away the enemies.” The stone, here, is symbolical of
firmness and strength in crushing the enemies. This ceremony
is known as Asmarohana or “Mounting the stone”.
The couple then go round the fire while the husband recites
the following formula: “Thee they have in the beginning
carried round Surya with the bridal procession. May thou give
back, Agni, to the husband the wife together with offspring.”
great Saptapadi or the rite of seven steps takes place. The
husband makes the wife walk forward seven steps in a northern
direction with the words: “One step for sap, two for Juice,
three for the prospering of wealth, four for comforts, five
for cattle, six for the seasons and seven for performing
homas.” The objects referred to in the above formula are
essential for felicity. This ceremony is very important from
the legal point of view as marriage is regarded legally
complete only after it is performed. They then pray that God
will provide them with the strength, courage and integrity to:
Fulfill social, religious duties and responsibilities.
Share their wealth and possessions.
Share each other’s happiness and sorrows.
Protect themselves from the five inherent enemies, i.e. passion, anger, greed, attachment and ego.
Attain true enjoyment of all seasons.
Be faithful in mind and body.
Be associates in the worship of God, in the performance of Dharma (right
deeds), in the acquisition of property and fulfillment of desires.
the Saptapadi, water is sprinkled on the bride’s head and
the formula is chanted: “The blessed, the most blessed
waters, the peaceful ones, the most peaceful ones, may they
give medicine to thee.” Water is famous for possessing
sanctifying properties among all religions. By this ceremony
the bride is supposed to be free from physical troubles and
sanctified for the married life.
the husband touches the heart of the bride reaching over her
right shoulder, with the words: “Into my heart will I take
thy heart: thy mind shall dwell In my mind: in my world thou
shall rejoice with all thy heart; May (prajapati) the Lord
join thee to me.” The heart is the centre of feelings. By
touching it the husband symbolically tries to rouse them to
make them flow out to meet his own heart and thus unite them
in the world of love.
the bridegroom invites the assembled guests and relatives to
bless the bride, reciting the verses over her:
ornaments does this woman wear. Come to her and behold her and
bless her.” The sindura-dana or painting of red vermilion on
the head of the bride by the bridegroom takes place on this
occasion. This ceremony is called “Sumanagali”. At this
stage of the marriage ceremonies, a number of rites are
performed in conformance with the local customs and
traditions, such as tying of the garments of the bride and the
bridegroom, touching the cup of the banyan tree, touching
the nose at the arrival of bridegroom, besmearing the chest of
the bridegroom with curd, etc.
the ceremony proper ends at this point, a number of ceremonies
relating to marriage still remain to be performed. The first
few are symbolical in their nature. The bride is required to
look at the sun, if the marriage takes place in the daytime.
In the night the bridegroom shows to the bride the pole star
and says: “Firm art thou, I see thee, the firm one. Firm be
thou with me, O thriving one. To me Brahaspati has given thee;
obtaining offspring through me, thy husband, live with me a
hundred autumns.” According to other authorities Arundhati
star and the Saptarshi-Mandala (constellation of stars) should
be also shown to the bride. Whether she sees them or not, she
is asked to reply when a question is put to her, “I see. “ These performances are suggestive of firmness in the conjugal life.
the marriage the wife is supposed to sit on man’s left-hand
side. The reason may be to leave the right hand of man free to
protect her and himself against any intruder or any harm.
During the marriage ceremony the bride’s and the groom’s heads are
clasped together to denote that they are two and henceforth
they should be one in body and spirit. They both will also
enjoy one destiny from now onwards.
man expresses that he accepts her the way she is, by placing
her five fingers on his forehead.
our mythology, a woman has always worshipped her husband as
her God, and by doing so it is claimed by our legends that she
sometimes achieved tremendous powers.
theory is based upon the theory of Bhakti (devotion of
quality of devotion instills humility within the devotee. Whom
you are devoted to is immaterial; It may be to the country, to
a cause, to scientific pursuit, or to a person; however the
spiritual uplift that the devotee acquires by selfless service
a pativrata (husband-devotee) in no way proves that woman was
inferior to man. In olden days It was considered that for a
man to lead a perfect life, four things were essential: Dharma
(Right deeds), Artha (Acquisition of property), Kama
(Fulfillment of desires) and Mokaha (Salvation of the soul),
and it was customary amongst certain Hindu communities for the
groom to follow the bride three times round the fire as that
denoted that a woman was the embodiment of the three qualities
necessary for a perfect life-Dharma, Artha and Kama. As a
matter of fact, certain religious rituals were not considered
complete unless the wife participated with the man, and a
couple was referred to as “Dampati” which signified their
unity in what they did and thought and they were likened to
the two wheels of a cart, both enjoying equal importance if
they were to make any progress on the road of life,
the wedding ceremony is over the couple leave for the groom’s
house. Here, the feet of the bride are washed. Then a cover is
placed over her head while she is made to sprinkle water on
all corners of the house. This denotes that she should keep
the respect of the family, and veil its shortcomings, and if
there are any fights or misunderstandings within the family,
she is supposed to cool them.
some communities it is also a custom to hold lit diyas (flames
on small containers made of clay) on the bride’s head to
denote that as she enters the house she should spread light
all around her. The groom breaks a coconut in many Hindu
ceremonies we have the above custom.
In the Hindu religion it is claimed that to reach anywhere spiritually
you ought to get rid of the ego: the ego is a hard nut to
crack, and that is what the coconut stands for; (the breaking
of the ego is what we hope to achieve by breaking the
Amongst the Sindhis they have the custom of performing Datar, in which
salt is exchanged from the bride’s hands to the groom’s
hand three times. The bride also does the same with all the
relatives from the in-law side.
is commonly believed by the Sindhis that if you do the above
there will be no arguments or fights between the bride and
themselves. When salt mixes with food it loses its identity,
it mingles totally with the ingredients of the meal, however,
the presence of salt is felt because it gives the food taste.
by exchanging salt, the family subtly tells the new bride that she
is going to be part of the new family and she should mingle
with them like salt does with food.
the Hindus it is also believed that if you eat the salt of
anybody’s house, you ought to always be faithful to
that family. Exchanging salt is also symbolic of the above
girl’s name is sometimes changed when she gets married. This
is done to remind her that she will be starting a fresh life
with a fresh name. Also, the changing of the bride’s name
has a lot to do with Numerology, in cases where the family
priest after comparing the boy’s and girl’s name decides
that the bride should change her name as it would be better
for both the parties in their future life together.
day after the wedding, the bride normally goes back to her
mother’s house for the day. The merriment continues until
most of the relatives that may have come to attend the wedding
leave for their respective houses.
of Hindu Marriages:
A symbol is a thing regarded by general consent as naturally
typifying or representing or recalling something by
possession of analogous qualities or by association in fact or
thought. A symbol is not important by itself. It has only a
vehicular value and conveys something beyond it. It is a mode
of expression, which vivifies abstract, subtle, unfamiliar or
supernatural ideas before common folk. In ancient times when
human fancy was stronger and the human speech was not
adequately developed to express every shade of thought,
symbols played a very important part. In religion and
mythology they were commonly used. But even now they have not
lost their value. The most up-to-date political ideology,
which recognises little use of religion, employs symbols for
its ends and ideals.
marriage and symbol: Hindu
marriage which the nuptials solemnize is not a social contract
in the modern sense of the term, but a religious institution,
a sacrament. By it is meant that besides the two human
parties, the bride and the’ bridegroom, there is a
third superhuman, spiritual or divine element in marriage.
The physical conditions of the two parties are always subject
to change and, as such, they cannot form the permanent basis
of marriage. It is on the third element on which the permanent
relationship between the husband and the wife depends. The
husband and the wife are responsible not only to each other,
but they owe a greater allegiance to this third element. This
is the religious or mystic touch in the purely social and
material contract between a man and a woman. Without it the
conjugal life loses its charm and durability. The mystic
aspect of Hindu marriage necessitates the use of a number of
Thus the general function of the Hindu marriage is to cover all the
aspects of married life. The biological significance, the
critical nature, the physical and mental union of the couple
moderation, the social transition and sacrifice, these are the
main features of the Hindu nuptials. They have been
symbolically suggested but not described in transparent prose,
because conveyed through symbols, they are better emphasized
and become more eloquent and telling.
and social change :
The nuptials, in their utterances, promises, hopes and
fears, symbolise a great social transition in the life of the
bride and the bridegroom. They are no longer irresponsible
youths depending upon their parents for their bread and views.
The seriousness of life dawns upon them. They forsake their
old families to form a new one. They have to run an
independent home, earn their own livelihood, procreate
children, and discharge their obligations towards society.
This is a life of responsibilities and cares. It is only in
this sense that Hindu marriage or Vivaha can properly be
understood which means to lift, to support, to hold up, and to
sustain. This involves a great compromise and mutual
Those who marry only for pleasure are sorely disappointed. The essential
difficulties of life are not given a send off under the
wedding canopy but, as a matter of fact, the conscious
acceptance of responsibilities in life is going to be a
veritable lesson in human endurance. We no doubt talk of a
happy marriage. A happy marriage is however possible when,
though being united physically, both partners contribute to
each other’s progress as individuals.
Gibran has rightly said of marriage : “You
were born together, you shall be for ever more. You shall be
together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the
winds of the heavens dance between you”.