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About Hindu Marriage

This is only an outline of a short Hindu marriage ceremony. The ceremony usually lasts 4-5 hours. There are traditionally several days of ritual leading to the actual ceremony.

The Hindu marriage is not a social contract in the modern sense of the term, but a religious institution. The couple, in fact, becomes a part of the whole creation. It is a firm and lifelong companionship. It is a new eternal bond between the Bride and Groom not only for one lifetime, but also for several generations. It is also a new everlasting bond between the two families, the family traditions and the two cultures. Both husband and wife have to establish the common goals of life, and move together to keep each other happy and healthy, and at the same time move closer to the common goals which can be no others but the experience of joy, peace, sublime bliss, and finally the Moksha -- the complete freedom from material entanglement or the cycle of birth and death.

The Hindu marriage is for procreation but not for recreation or pleasure born out of blind passion. The husband and wife are expected to generate a world of their own and beget illustrious children who could carry on the noblest family traditions for providing a link with eternity.

The process of Hindu marriage varies widely from region to region and is performed under the guidance of a priest who recites mantras (verses) that are originally written in Sanskrit. The marriage is performed in a specific sequence starting with Ganesh Pooja. A sample itinerary and timeline is provided below.

6:00 p.m. -- Worship of Lord Ganesha and Devi Gauri

Prayers to ward off all the evils for the Hindu marriage ceremony, ensure the success of the ceremony, and bless the couple with intelligence, knowledge, wealth and strength.

6:10 p.m. -- Worship of Lord Varuna

Varuna, the Lord of Water, is offered prayers for the purification of exterion and interior spaces.

6:20 p.m. -- Rakshabandhanam

Prayers are offered to get the blessings of Nagaraja, the God of Snakes.

6:25 p.m. -- Varapooja

The bride's father treats the groom as equivalent to Lord Vishnu by washing his feet and requests the groom to marry his daughter.

6:30 p.m. -- Mangalasthakam

The first visual exchange between the bride and the groom.

6:45 p.m. -- Mahasankalpam (Resolution)

All the Gods who are ghe guardians of all the planets, sun, moon, all the directions, earth, and sky are worshipped for protection and benediction during the ceremony.

7:00 p.m. -- Sumuhurtham

Resolution and vows are made to make sure the marriage ceremony is completed without obstacles, for the benediction of all, and for getting the blessings from God.

7:10 p.m. -- Mangalya Pooja

This pooja is done to wish long life for the new couple.

7:20 p.m. -- Kanyadanam (Gifting the Daughter)

The actual sacrament and rituals start by evoking the sacred fire. Parents of the bride, by an avowed commitment, give their daughter to the Groom who affirms the commitment and accepts her. Consequently the status of an unmarried girl turns to that of a wife.

This is absolutely not the severance of the relationship of the Bride with her parents, but the commitment of the Bride's parents to give their daughter full freedom to make, together with her husband, a world of her own. The relationship of the Bride with her parents, in fact, takes a new, more intimate meaning that she and her husband are now the most honored human beings -- daughter-son (the son-in-law becomes like a son), in her parents' home. Also, the Bride's parents become free from obligations to their ancestors, sages and God by this sacred give-away.

7:30 p.m. -- Mangalyadharanam (Knotting Ceremony)

The Groom ties the sacred know before the sacred fire to bind the Bride and Groom together for life.

7:40 p.m. -- Kankanabandhan

The Groom makes the Bride wear a bangle, or a sacred chain, or a sacred ring (Mangal Sutra) as a safeguard against any hindrance or calamity. The bangle is a symbol of the Bride's welfare.

7:45 p.m. -- Homam or Agni Sthapana (Installation of the Sacred Fire)

Evoking the Sacred Fire and worship of Lord Agni is performed. Sacred fire is evoked through changing hymns from Hindu scriptures. This is to bless both the Bride and Groom for good health, wealth and prosperity, for illustrious offspring, for peace, and for a hundred hears of long life.

8:00 p.m. -- Brahmamudi & Circumambulation of the Sacred Fire

Both the Bride and Groom proceed ti circumambulate the sacred fire clockwise. The Bride leads the Groom three times around the fire and the Groom leads the Bride four times around the same. The Sacred Fire thus is the supreme witness of the sacred marriage.

8:15 p.m. -- Jayamala (Garland Ceremony) & Vachana (Recitation of Wedding Vows)

The Bride greets the Groom and acknowledges him as her betrothed n the presence of all assembled by garlanding the groom. The Groom reciprocates. All the participants congratulate the newlywed couple.

8:20 p.m. -- Saptapadi (Walking Seven Steps Together)

For devotion and harmony in life, the Groom asks the Bride to walk together seven steps while vowing.

The Bride requests the Groom to:
  • Consult and seek her participation in all religious functions
  • Consult her prior to undertaking any donations
  • Provide her companionship and friendship through the years to come
  • Inform her about material wealth
  • Help her in sickness and in health
  • Consult her prior to major purchases
  • Help her to maintain her self respect.
The Groom accepts these vows and asks the Bride to vow to:
  • Follow the path of his forefathers and family traditions
  • Maintain peace and harmony with his family
  • Speak well and softly of people she meets
  • Maintain the self respect of his family, parents, and other relatives
  • Help him in sickness and in health
  • Help him to acheive health progeny
  • Provide him companionship and friendship through the years to come and to achieve joyful and blissful family life

8:25 p.m. -- Talambralu

The Bride and Groom repeatedly pour rice mixed with turmeric powder and vermillion to signify the beginning of their association.

8:30 p.m. -- Savasti-Vachanam and Asservadam (Blessings)

Priests offer prayers by chanting Veda Mantras (hymns from the sacred Scriptures) to bless the Groom and Bride for a long, healthy, prosperous, peaceful, and joyful life. All the participants come forward to wish the newlywed couple a long and happy married life.

My goal is to help all couples, regardless of their religious affiliation or non-affiliation. I respect all cultures and creeds and deliver a ceremony with dignity and respect, regardless of whether or not I share the same beliefs. Click here for a brief explanation of my beliefs.