The wedding ceremoney in India can be a very expensive affair. The wedding in India is getting very popular all over the world and many Foreign Nationals likes to visit India and get married again in the Indian style. For some, getting married in India remains a DREAM due to the very high expenses. In order to make the Dream Come True, we have managed to find ways to organize this at a budget affordable by even a normal man. You let us know your budget and we will make it happen. The ceremoney and the way it is done remains unchanged. The venue of the function changes depending on the budget.
Wedding marks the coming together of two individuals. It is a bond not only between two individuals but also between two souls. Indian marriages are clad with rituals and customs. It is an elaborate concept in every Indian community. Now-a-days Hindu weddings are celebrated on a large scale. Family and friends get together to celebrate the occasion. The marriage ceremony includes various pre wedding and wedding functions. Most of these functions take place mostly at the bride’s place.
The main function of the wedding takes place at the bride’s place and a mandap is erected and the interior is beautifully decorated with flowers, colorful personal adornment, and decorative items. Mostly the wedding is held on a garden, courtyard of the bride’s house, a blocked-off street or square. Some people like to keep the wedding ceremoney in a small scale and they prefer to have the main function in a Temple. . After the marriage rituals the guests are served with lavish dinner. Indian wedding is all about fun and feast. According to Indian custom the bride and groom are showered with gifts and attention.
Hindu wedding (Shaadi or Vivah in Hindi) ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted. They have many rituals that have evolved since traditional times and differ in many ways from the modern western wedding ceremony and also among the regions and caste.
Modern Hindu weddings are often much shorter and do not involve all of the rituals of the traditional ceremony which sometimes were for 5 days. Instead certain ceremonies are picked by the families of the bride and the groom, depending on their family tradition, caste, jati etc. Hence the ceremonies vary among the various ethnic groups that practice Hinduism. The wedding is normally conducted under a mandap, a canopy traditionally with four pillars, and an important component of the ceremony is the sacred fire (Agni) that is witness to the ceremony.
Wedding Tradition in India
The Indian culture celebrates marriage as a sacrament (Sanskara), a rite enabling two individuals to start their journey in life together. In a Hindu wedding, the multiplicity of creation becomes possible when spirit (Purush) unites with matter (Prakritti). The Hindu wedding lays emphasis on three essential values: happiness, harmony, and growth. The institution of marriage can be traced back to Vedic times. The ceremony should be held on a day in the “bright half” of the northern course of the sun. Months before the wedding an engagement ceremony known as Mangni is held. This is to bless the couple, who are then given gifts of jewelry and clothing by their new family.
North Indian Wedding:
Jaimala (Exchange of Garlands)
The couple exchanges garlands as a gesture of acceptance of one another and a pledge to respect one another as partners.
Madhupak (Offering of Yogurt and Honey)
The bride’s father offers the groom yogurt and honey as the _expression of welcome and respect.
Kanyadaan (Giving Away of the Bride)
The father of the bride places her hand in the groom’s hand requesting him to accept her as an equal partner. The concept behind Kanyadan is that the bride is a form of the goddess Lamxi and the groom is Lord Narayana. The parents are facilitating their union.
Havan (Lighting of the Sacred Fire)
The couple invokes Agni, the god of Fire, to witness their commitment to each other. Crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar rice and oil are offered to the ceremonial fire.
Rajaham (Sacrifice to the Sacred Fire)
The bride places both her hands into the groom’s and her brother then places rice into her hands. Together the bride and groom offer the rice as a sacrifice into the fire.
Gath Bandhan (Tying of the Nuptial Knot)
The scarves placed around the bride and groom are tied together symbolizing their eternal bond. This signifies their pledge before God to love each other and remain faithful.
Mangalphera (Walk Around the Fire)
The couple makes four Mangalpheras around the fire in a clockwise direction representing four goals in life: Dharma, religious and moral duties; Artha, prosperity; Kama, earthly pleasures; Moksha, spiritual salvation and liberation. The bride leads the Pheras first, signifying her determination to stand first beside her husband in all happiness and sorrow.
Saptapardi (Seven Steps Together)
The bride and groom walk seven steps togehr to signify the beginning of their journey through life together. Each step represents a marital vow:
First step: To respect and honor each other
Second step: To share each other’s joy and sorrow
Third step: To trust and be loyal to each other
Fourth step: To cultivate appreciation for knowledge, values, sacrifice and service
Fifth step: To reconfirm their vow of purity, love family duties and spiritual growth
Sixth step: To follow principles of Dharma (righteousness)
Seventh step: To nurture an eternal bond of friendship and love
Jalastnchana (Blessing of the Couple)
The parents of the bride and groom bless the wedded couple by dipping a rose in water and sprinking it over the couple.
Sindhoor (Red Powder)
The groom applies a small dot of vermilion, a powdered red lead, to the bride’s forehead and welcomes her as his partner for life. It is applied for the first time to a woman during the marriage ceremony when the bridegroom himself adorns her with it.
Aashirvad (Parental Blessing)
The parents of the bride and groom give their blessings to the couple. The couple touches the feet of their parents as a sign of respect.
Menhdi (Henna Ceremony)
The traditional art of adorning the hands and feet with a paste made from the finely ground leaves of the Henna plant. The term refers to the material, the design, and the ceremony. It is tradition for the names of the bride and groom to be hidden in the design, and the wedding night is not to commence until the groom has found both names. After the wedding, the bride is not expected to perform any housework until her Menhdi has faded away.
Mangalasutra (Thread of Goodwill)
A necklace worn specifically by married women as a symbol of their marriage.
South Indian Wedding:
Marriages in South Indian Brahmin families are performed according to Vedic rites as prescribed.
In the olden days marriages used to be performed on four days apart from the afternoon on the day previous to the first (Muhurtham) day and the period till afternoon of the day subsequent to the last day of the marriage. Religious rites will be performed both morning and evening of the three days subsequent to the marriage day. The intervening time are spent in social functions. Nalangu forms part of these functions. Processions of bride & bride groom separately except on the last day when the two used to sit side by side while on procession It used to be in a carriage drawn by two horses. With the advent of cars the processions were in open top cars. On the third day normally the procession used to be in a palanquin fully decorated. Nathhaswaram plays an important part in marriages, from the evening of the day before the muhurtham till the afternoon of the day before the last day. These functions enable both the brides’ and the grooms’ party to know each other better.
Normally marriages used to be conducted at the residence of the bride. Big pandal is erected in front of the house. It may cover neighbours house fronts and major portion of the street. The whole village used to be involved in the arrangements. Personal assistance for the bride’s family used to be just for the asking. This is another social aspect.
With the disposal of the family members in various parts of the world and also due to lack of space in the cities and towns marriages are conducted in Kalyana Mandapams now-a-days.
Social aspects of marriages are (a)Reception by procession of the groom (Janavasam or Mappilai ashaippu) (b)Exchange of garlands (Maalai matruthal) (c) Oonjal ( Swing on which the young to be married are made to sit and rocked gently.) (d) Nalangu (Passing coconut shape brass ball between the couple).
The bride and grooms party less the bride assemble at a nearby temple where the groom is offered new dress befitting the occasion and then he is taken in a procession in an open car to the mandapam. This function is becoming extinct now-a-days.
The groom has to perform certain religious rites relating to bramacharya asramam and for entering grahastha asramam.
The groom is supposed to proceed on a long tour. On the way he is stopped by the bride’s father, who requests the groom to abandon his tour and accept his daughter as his wife.
Exchange of garlands ( Malaai matruthal)
The groom accepts the proposal and he is brought to the mandapam where the bride awaits in brilliant clothes and ornaments, flowers. In addition to a big garland she will be wearing three garlands. The groom will be in two garlands besides the big one. The bride removes one of the three garlands and puts it around the neck of the groom. The groom in his turn removes one of his garlands and puts it round the bride’s neck. This is done three times. In performing this both the bride and the groom are helped by their respective maternal uncles.
This function used to be full of fun and frolic in the olden days. The girl and the boys used to be young. The uncles lift them on their shoulders and it is the skill, how the garland is put around the neck of each other. Now-a-days it is enacted in a lack lustre way. The awkwardness being felt by the couple especially the bride owing to their age stands out. This may also fade away as “Janavasams” did.
The couple is made to sit on the “Oonjal” which is rocked gently. The spectators ( relatives and friends) get a chance to exhibit their talents in music. Suitable songs are sung. In the olden days these rendering used to be repeated in the nathaswaram. This doesn’t happen now, probably due to lack of time, while these go on the couple is offered milk and plantain and the ladies from both the families (particularly elders) throw coloured rice balls in four directions to ward off the evil spirits.
After the couple is led to the platform where preliminary religious rites are performed, the groom is referred to by the father of the bride as “matavishnuswarupi” ie., resembling Lord Maha Vishnu- After washing his feet the groom is invited to accept the bride as ” Kannika Dhanam” In this the bride sits on the lap of her father. Her hands twined upward are placed on the upward turned hands of the groom. A coconut, betel leaves, nuts are placed on the hands of the bride. In the olden days gold coins used to be placed. (This is because any Dhanam is to accompanied by some Sambavanai in cash.) This aspect no longer exists. It is possible that this ” Sambavanai” turned into “dowry” which used to be taken in advance. ——- is not offered in kannika dhanam now-a-days. Water is poured on the brides’hands by her mother. Then the father releases his hand from that of his daughter thus placing the hand of the bride over the hands of the groom who accepts the Dhanam.
The bride is offered new clothes by the groom, after his accepting her. While the bride is away changing the dress prayer is offered to the “Tirumangalyam” before giving. It is taken around the hall to get the blessings of elders in the assembly. Now -a-days every individual touches these as their blessing. Actually the intention is the old couple has to bless the new ones to be.
As soon as the bride comes with the new dress, she sits on the lap of her father. The groom has to perform some religious rites and then he ties the Mangalyam around the neck of the bride. He puts one knot. His sister standing behind the bride completes the three knots. Flowers are showered on the couple. (supposedly, for these flowers normally lands on the heads and shoulders of those (relatives) who stand round and covering the couple.
There is a paradox in this. Although the mangalyam as well as tying it are considered sacred no vedic mantras are recited for this. Only a sloham is recited.
There is a misconception these days that this tying of the mangalyam completes the marriage. They start dispersing and in doing so they go and shake the hands of the bride and groom. This prevents very important religious functions of the marriage. Immediately after tying of the mangalyam the couple sit beside the homagundam. “Panigraharam” is then performed with the recital of mantras. this is an important function because the groom grasps the hand of the bride officially after accepting her as dhanam. In fact if one sees the invitations issued by the father of the groom the boy one will see that the invitation like anupasanam, lagya homam etc., are performed. Then Saptha Sathi is performed.
In this function the groom lifts the right foot of the bride and helps her to stand over a stone placed on the north side of the homa kundam to the recital of mantras. Then the couple comes round the homa kundam fire. This is performed seven times. The marriage is complete only after the performance of this Saptha Sathi.
No one is expected to intervene from the tying of the magalyam and saptha sathi by shaking hands.
After panigrahanam the groom performs aupasanam for the first time. This recital is one every individual is required to perform daily in the morning and evening. To enable such performance the “agni” from this homam is placed inside a mud pot in which rice husks are already placed. The fire has to be rekindled every time aupasanam is performed and after the aupasanam the fire is again placed inside the pot. This is not being done since no one (perhaps a few) performs aupasanam these days. A pot is, however, carried when the groom leaves for his home.
The groom is to take the bride now his wife outside the pandal/mandapam after night fall and show her arundhathi shining in the sky as a bright star. This is to show her the faithful devotion and “—barlthu surushai—” as an example.