Hindu wedding rituals

Marriage is one of the most important custom in all the religions. It actually started in India. It is an union of two souls, two families and a step forward to the reproduction of a gracious generation.

Almost every religion has some or the other things in common when it comes to marriage, just like covering the face of bride to save her beauty from the devil eyes, applying Mehndi in hands and legs of the couple to enhance the beauty, etc.,

In this article I would love to share some popular Hindu wedding customs and the meaning behind them, so without wasting time, let us start. Hindu marriage is a symbol of purity, sacred union of two different people from the different family, community, and culture. All the Hindu marriages carryout similar rituals with minor differences.

Mehndi- Usually this is the first custom of a Hindu wedding. It acts as a natural adornment on the hands and legs of the new couple. Mehndi is best stress reducer and also helps to cool the body temperature. We all know wedding and festive seasons are the most stressful occasions. Wedding duo and the entire wedding crowd may feel feverish during this time. Mehndi helps them prevent and recover with its herbal effects. Followed by Mehndi, there is another custom known as 'Sangeet' a singing and dancing programme organised and performed by the family members to cheer the bride and groom for their upcoming new life.

Dev Karya- This is an important ritual in Hindu weddings especially in south India. 'Dev' means God, 'Karya' means duty. A duty towards Gods and nature before an auspicious occasion is known as Dev Karya, it is the ritual in which the families of the bride and groom invite all the mighty gods for the wedding. Families worship the kitchen items and cook the favourable food for the offerings to God and nature. They worship and invite the holy Tulsi plant and the other holy trees, cow and all the cattle at home, water and invite all other important elements of nature, even the ants by offering them sweets and placing Haldi Kumkum (it acts as pest control) on all the sweets so that they should not spoil the entire sweet and other dishes prepared for the wedding, all this to seek the blessings of nature on the unity of two souls and two families. Here on Dev Karya, all the items of marriage are placed in front of the idol of Lord Ganesha, (the first worshipped Hindu god) to seek his divine blessings. Before Devkarya the families also visit all their family deities with the invitation cards to seek their blessing on the occasion.

Haldi - Yellow colour is auspicious in Hindu tradition Haldi is yellow in colour. This tradition is usually celebrated a day before the wedding. Applying Haldi or turmeric during the marriage is very popular especially in Hindu religion. It holds an entire ceremony of Haldi during weddings, Haldi is not only an antiseptic but also helps shimmering the beauty. In the olden days, when beauty treatments and parlors were not available, People had their own natural beauty secrets. Haldi is known to have properties that glow the skin fair, and also purifies the body that helps to get rid of dead cells and detoxifies the skin. 

Wedding day- On the wedding day, usually in most of the hindu religions, groom wears a white dress that signifies his white seeds for the reproduction and Bride wears red lehnga dress or saree that signifies her red egg which she bears for the reproduction. Let us know the rituals and meanings of the wedding day one by one.

Baraat- This is the most important ritual on Hindu wedding where the groom's family travels to the bride's place or the wedding hall, with the entire music band and dancing. It is an announcement that the groom has joyfully come to marry the bride with the presence and blessings of his family.

Jaimala / Sajan Bhet / Varmala - Welcoming the groom at the wedding place. Before this custom bride's mother welcomes groom with aarti and in the meanwhile she pulls the nose of the groom, that says she is ordering him to take care of her daughter with all the love. 

The reason for Jaimala is to arrange the first thrilled meeting of the bride and groom, earlier days elders of the family used to arrange the wedding, thus, bride and groom used to see each other on the wedding day itself. During this ritual, the bride and groom put fresh flower garlands into each other's necks. The ceremony is not just the meeting of two souls but is a union of two families, a merge of traditions, values, and customs that make the entire wedding complete. The Jaimala or also known as ‘varmala' is an ancient tradition which has been practiced and followed ever since Indian weddings originated.  During the ritual the bride and groom are lifted up by the family members so that the one who bends to take garland around neck has to bend before the partner for the entire life, all this is to chill the atmosphere and create happiness around.

Sath Phere- The big old custom of 'seven circles around the fire' of every Hindu wedding is 'Sath Phere'. Both bride and groom take the circle of Agni (fire) for seven times with seven promises by holding each other's hand to establish a successful married life ahead. Fire is the purest form of nature which purifies all impurities. Thus, taking an oath of exchange of love in front of the fire to start the new life is an auspicious custom of the wedding. Couple offer rice or other things as an assertion in the fire while taking the circles. Now let us know the vows of each Phera or circle.
  • With the first phera, the couple appeal to the gods for the pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful.
  • With the second phera, the couple prays for physical and mental strength and to lead a healthy and peaceful life.
  • The third phera is taken for the fulfillment of spiritual obligations. 
  • The fourth phera is taken for the attainment of happiness and harmony through mutual love, trust, and a long joyous life together.
  • The fifth phera is taken to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire universe and for getting noble children.
  • The sixth phera is for plentiful seasons all over the world. The couple prays for rich seasons and seeks that they may go through these seasons together, just as they would share their joys and sorrows.
  • With the last phera they pray for a life of understanding, loyalty, unity, and companionship not only for themselves but also for the peace of the universe.

  • So why only 7 circles? There is a logical explanation behind this as well, each circle consists 360 degrees. The only number from 1 to 9 which can not divide 360 is, 7. So the Bride and Groom go around the fire ensuring nothing can divide their relationship.

    So these are the important exchange of vows which glorifies the couples love, duty, and respect for each other. 

    Tying Mangalsootra- In Sanskrit, ‘Mangala' means sacred and ‘Sutra' means thread.  It is also known as Tali in south Indian languages.

    Mangalsootra is a black and gold necklace with a gold or diamond pendant that symbolises good luck, love, and companionship and it is one of the most important ornaments of a Hindu marriage, especially in south Indian weddings if the Mangalsootra is knotted around the neck of the bride then the wedding is over. After the sath phera bride moves towards the left side of the groom and sits beside him to take the position close to his heart. Groom ties Mangalsootra around the neck of a bride with the promise of companionship for the lifetime. The black seeds in mangalsootra also save the bride from devil eye.  

    Sindhoor (vermilion)- Sindhoor is prepared by a mixture of turmeric-lime and the metal mercury. After tying Mangalsootra groom applies vermillion on the forehead or parting of the hair of the bride. Applying sindhoor has been even observed in the shreds of evidence of Harappa civilization. It holds a very strong position in Hindu mythology, we have read many stories of sindhoor in our mythology, for example, a story of Seeta applying sindhoor - Hanuman asks the reason for sindhoor and Seeta explains Hanuman that it is for the long life and love of Rama. And innocent Hanuman applies sindhoor on his entire body for the long life and love of his idol Rama. 
    However, during the wedding, groom applies sindhoor on the forehead of the bride for the first time. Due to its basic properties, besides controlling blood pressure, it also activates sexual drive (that explains why it is prohibited for widows). 

    Wearing the Toe ring- After these above offerings, groom places a silver toe ring to the bride. These are the silver rings known as Bichiya (bee-chee-ya) in Hindi, Mettelu in Telugu, Metti in Tamil, Kalungura in Kannada. The reason for wearing these toe rings is, a particular nerve from the second toe connects the uterus and passes to heart. Wearing toe ring on this finger strengthens the uterus. It will keep the female body healthy by regulating the blood flow as well as menstrual cycle. Moreover, silver is a good conductor to absorb polar energies from the earth and pass it to the woman's body which is necessary for her.

    These offerings signify the groom's devotion to his bride and the bride's new status as a married woman. Many people argue that why all these ornaments are imposed only on women, whereas men do not carry anything as a symbol of marriage. The above reasons are clear that these ornaments are helpful for the female body to beatify them and lead a happy married life. And when it comes to men they usually wear a ring on their ring finger in all religions. 

    However, after all these rituals newly wed couple take blessings from all the elders for their best wishes of long successful and a happy married life. 

    Bidayi -After all these ritual comes, Bidayi. A separation of the bride from her parents to grooms place. The saddest part of a wedding, a girl who is born and brought-up for years at her home has to leave everything and move out to lead the new life and make new relations in just a day. 

    During this ritual, the bride is asked to throw a handful of rice behind as she walks ahead with her husband towards his house.  By throwing rice, the bride thanks her parents for feeding her so well since childhood and having loved her so affectionately. It is a token of acknowledgment for the unconditional love, care, and concern that her parents and relatives have showered her with. The girl is always seen as Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of prosperity) in Hindu tradition. Rice holds great importance in Hindu tradition. It is considered as a symbol of prosperity. As the bride marches towards her new home, she blesses her maternal home that she is leaving behind and prays for the prosperity of her family.  

    Wedding night- Lastly, comes the wedding night. This ritual is performed around the world in all religions. It is uniting of the two bodies and two souls. After the worship of the family deities by the newly wed couple, the final step of the wedding is the wedding night. This ritual is often performed at grooms place. 

    During wedding night, new bed and the bedroom is decorated with fresh flowers for the intense scent for the couple that drives romantic moments. Newly weds are traditionally given a glass of milk, to which crushed almond and saffron have been mixed to enhance the sensual experience.

    So these are the important rituals of a Hindu wedding. Please share it and post your comments if you liked the article. You can also read my new book Itihaas-Saga of India for more details. 

    Credit- Wiki and other internet search, 
    Pictures- Google

    Post a Comment


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