Traditional Hindu Wedding

"A circle is the symbol of the sun and the earth as well as the universe. It is the symbol of holiness and of perfection and of peace". The priest continues "These rings are symbol of unity, in which your lives are now going to join in one unbroken circle, wherever you go, you will always return to one another and to your togetherness".

Traditional hindu wedding ceremonies can last for days and involve much ritual in Sanskrit which may be understood by the priest conducting the service. The priest in this in wedding ceremony need not to be formally trained as a hindu priest. He or she should be familiar with hindu weddings and comfortable acting as a master of ceremonies, guiding the participants through their parts and explaining the meaning of the service to the audience.

Hindu weddings are supposed to take place outside, outdoors, under a canopy known as a "mandap". It can be on the ground furnished with carpets or mats or on chairs. Frond and center under the mandap is the sacred fire. The fire can be small and confined to a brazier or dish for safety.

The proper materials that should be presented on the wedding day are coconut, Garland to be exchanged by bride and groom, wedding necklace or "mangalsutra", Sacred fire, Sacred rope or "varamala", pots of water for washing hands and feet, "kumkum" or red paste applied to forehead, rice and flowers.

Traditionally, the bride wears a red or red and white sari, The sari should be draped modesty over her hair. The groom wears a kafni which is a long shirt extending to the knees with "dhoti" which is a sort of an overgrown loincloth.

One rule which shouldn't be broken is that anyone who enters the mandap or wedding canopy must have on sandals or slip-on shoes which can be easily removed. No shoes in mandap!

One feature of the bride's wardrobe which has become popular abroad is the use of henna or "mehndi" to decorate her hands and feet. It's said that you can tell how well a new bride is being treated by her in-law from how long it takes for the mehndi to wear off. Mehndi treatments are increasingly available in salons.

Wedding day

Groom's party assembles a few minutes before scheduled ceremony time at a convenient spot near ceremony location. Older member of the party may go on to the ceremony location to be seated. Groom holds a coconut and bride's garland.

Groom's family and friends walk in a procession to ceremony location. For extra credit groom rides a horse or an elephant. Groom is welcomed by bride's mother who applies kumkum on his forehead. Groom bows to bride's mother and gives her coconut.

Bride's parents escort groom and best man to the mandap. Groom's friends and family is seated nearby.

Bride comes the next. She carries the groom's garland, escorted by maternal uncle, optionally preceded by flower girls.

Groom and bride are in mandap and then priest says: we have come together to wed (bride's name), daughter of (bride's parents), to (groom's name), son of (groom's parents). Today they build together the foundation of their marriage upon the earth, in the presence of the sacred fire the radiant sun, among their family and friends.

Bride and groom are seated facing each-other under the mandap. Chorus sings the slokas (Sanskrit word used to denote a prayerful verse) Invocation to lord Ganesha "Vignesh varaia varadaia sukhapriyaya" Invocation to Saraswati "Yakundendutusharahara dhawala" Prayer for harmony "Om sahana vavatu"

Bride garlands groom and then groom does the same. Bride's parents wash bride's and groom's hands and feet, apply kumkum and give flowers. Bride's mother does this to bride and bride's father does this to groom.

Bride's parents address audiences: I (bride's parent name) daughter/son of (grandparent's names), approve the wedding of my daughter, (bride's name), to (groom's name).

Groom says: I (groom's name), take you, (bride's name), into my heart as my wife. Bride says: I (bride's name), take you, (groom's name), into my heart as my husband.

After the priest weds the couple, bride and groom exchange the rings. Priest puts varamala around bride's and groom's neck, They are now married! The couple will be seated side by side and bride's father puts bride's hand in groom's hand.

Then party starts! Traditionally this is the time to sing a poem composed specially for the occasion, it is called "amangalashtak" Bride cups her hands and places them in groom's cupped hands. Bride's brother puts rice in bride's hands. Together bride and groom pour the mixture into the fire.

Bride and groom walk around the fire four times, alternately in who leads priest says:

Om Svaha! With the first turn, we pray for happiness in the union of the couple.
Om Svaha! With the second turn, we pray for the long life of the couple.
Om Svaha! With the third turn, we pray for the healthy life of the couple.
Om Svaha! With the fourth turn, we pray for the happiness and health of the couple.

The bride and groom sit down. whoever sits down first will be the boss in the marriage! Then groom presents a present to bride's brother. Then priest says: Now is the time to confirm the marriage with the seven final steps. Bride and groom rise and prepare to take steps. Priest continues: I ask you, (bride's name) and (groom's name), to concentrate upon these seven vows as you take the seven steps:

1. May the couple be blessed with an abundance of food.
2. May the couple be strong and complement one another.
3. May the couple be blessed with prosperity.
4. May the couple be eternally happy.
5. May the couple be blessed with children (obedient children)
6. May the couple live in perfect harmony
7. May (bride's name) and (groom's name) always be the best of friends.

In addition to the traditional wedding bride and groom kiss!

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