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Hindu Wedding Traditions

Shared by Helen Schrader
Category Weddings Around the World
Tags hindu wedding asian wedding India Uae Dubai Hs Celebrants Celebrant Helen Schrader Ceremony Celebration of marriage wedding couple vows husband wife love

South Asian weddings are a chaotic, colourful mix of intense spiritual rituals and circus like celebrations.

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It is fascinating to see how the number seven has such significance in South Asian weddings and so it is with the Hindu wedding.

Saptapadi The Seven Sacred Steps are of the most beautiful elements of a Hindu wedding ceremony – steeped in tradition and meaning. With each step the couple takes a sacred vow. Step 1: Together we will live with respect for one another. Step 2. Together we will develop mental, physical and spiritual balance. Step 3. Together we will prosper, acquire wealth and share our accomplishments. Step 4. Together we will acquire happiness, harmony and knowledge through mutual love. Step 5. Together we will raise strong, virtuous children. Step 6. Together we will be faithful to one another and exercise self-restraint and longevity. Step 7. Together we will remain lifelong partners and achieve salvation. Let us now explore just some of the pre wedding rituals

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

Pre-Wedding
Grah Shanti – the essence of Hinduism revolves around the sun, moon and planets. In this important ritual it is asked that the bride and groom are blessed with peace and projection in their marriage.

Pitthi – it is the yellow paste made with turmeric, rosewater and chickpea flour. Believed to brighten and even out your skin tone! It is a fun event for the family who happily apply it wherever they can onto the bride and groom.

Mehndi – an event held the night before the weddings, it is a girls’ night of fun and laughter and lots of Bollywood dance moves. A professional mehndi artist or a talented relative will make beautiful intricate designs on the hands and feet of the bride and the other female friends and family.

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

The Wedding Ceremony

Firstly the groom’s procession takes place ‘Baraat’ - the groom arrives at the entrance of the wedding venue on a horse with his family and friends singing and dancing around to a drummer ‘dohl’ The baraat is met by the bride’s family at the entrance to the wedding venue. The bride’s family meet him to signify their pleasure of the bride’s acceptance into his family.

Ponkhwanu – as the two families meet the bride’s mother welcomes the groom and relatives offer each other garlands. The bride’s mother will place a red dot ‘tikka’ on the groom’s forehead and then hold up five instruments, each with a message for the groom, these are each thrown individually in one of four directions. At this point the bride’s mother could also try and get hold of the groom’s nose. This is a bit of fun because if she succeeds he will have to do anything his mother-in-law says during his marriage – what a scary thought! The groom is escorted by the bride’s family to the ceremonial canopied alter, ‘mandap’. The mandap represents the new home of the bride and groom.

Ganesh Puja – ‘Prayer to Lord Ganesh’ The ceremony begins with a worship of Lord Ganesh, the destroyer of all obstacles. The priest guides the groom and bride’s parents in offering flowers, sweets and prayer to Lord Ganesh.

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Kanya Padhar – The Bride arrives with her maternal uncle and aunt or depending on the region it can be her sisters or cousins. A shawl also called an ‘antarpat’, is drawn in front of the groom to prevent him for seeing the bride before the ceremony starts, this is a symbol of their separate existence prior to marriage. The shawl comes down and the couple will see each other for the first time on this momentous day - it is an emotional moment.

Jai Mala – the bride and groom once together at the mandap exchange flower garlands, in acceptance of each other.

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

Kanyadaan and Hasta Melap – the bride’s father pours sacred water in his daughter’s hand and places her hand in the groom’s hand, officially giving away his most precious gift to the groom. The bride’s parents will offer their daughter’s hand to the groom by placing a leaf with rice and flowers on his hand. As he accepts, their hands are joined. The groom’s sister or cousin then ties the end of the groom’s scarf to the bride’s sari with betel nuts, copper coins and rice, symbolizing unity, prosperity and happiness. The knot represents the eternal bond of marriage.

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

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Vivah Havan - the priest then lights the sacred fire or Agni, which symbolises the divine presence as a witness of the ceremony, a commitment made in the presence of God.

Mangal Phere and Saptapadi - The bride and groom walk around the sacred fire seven times ‘Saptapadi’ keeping in mind the four aspirations in life: Dharma (duty to each other, family and God), Artha (prosperity), Karma (energy and passion) and Moksha (salvation). The bride, representing divine energy, leads the groom in the first three rounds, while the groom leads in the last four rounds, signifying balance and completeness. In some cultures, the bride and groom walk around the fire four times, with the bride leading in the first three rounds, and the groom leading in the final round. The bride’s brother places rice grains in her hands after she completes each round to signify his pledge to always support and protect her in times of need. Once the couple has completed the four rounds, there’s a race to see who will sit down first. It is said that whoever sits down first will rule the house.

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

When they return to their seats, the bride will move to sit on the groom’s left side, taking the closest possible position to the groom’s heart. The groom then offers the bride lifelong protection by placing a mangalsutra, or sacred necklace made of black and gold beads, around her neck and applying red powder ‘sindoor’ on the crown of her forehead. These two offerings signify the bride’s status as a married woman and the groom’s devotion to the bride. The bride and groom also exchange rings at this time and feed each other sweets.

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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt

Aashirvaad - Women from both families whisper blessings into the bride’s ear. The couple then bows down to the priest, their parents and elder relatives to receive their final blessings. The guests shower the newlywed couple with flowers and rice to wish them a long and happy marriage.

Bidaai – The bride says her final goodbye to her family. The procession ends joyfully but yet it is sad, as the bride is leaving her family home – tears all round.



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Photo credit: Bhavna Barratt



Source: http://www.thecultureist.com - Divya Patwari

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