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The ultimate guide to Hindu weddings

This is the second in a series of three posts: Bollywood Borrowed presents the ultimate guide to Sikh, Hindu and Muslim weddings! If you’re not sure which one you are attending — give us a call and we might be able to help you out.

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Hindu wedding practices differ between families and cultures. The elements described below can be expected in most Hindu ceremonies but there may be a few differences.

Hindu weddings take place under a Mandap (an elaborately decorated canopy with four pillars, blessed to welcome God) which can be erected almost anywhere. This means that weddings can be held in temples, halls, or outside. The ceremony (Vivaha) happens close to the bride’s home and is performed by a Brahman (priest).

Ganesh Puja

A prayer is performed to Lord Ganesh (the God with the head of an elephant) to remove obstacles. The Brahman recites Slokas (verses from the holy scriptures) to spread positive energy on the day.

Jaymaala

The groom arrives with a procession of family and friends (Jaan or Baraat). The bride’s mother performs an Aarti (ceremony involving diva (candles)) and anoints his forehead with a red Tika or Chandlo to bless him. He is then welcomed into the Mandap after removing his shoes. Sometimes his family holds a large cloth to block his vision as the bride enters.

Bride’s arrival

The bride is escorted to the Mandap with her uncles and brothers. She is usually dressed in red to signify prosperity, strength and fertility. She is seated opposite the groom and the cloth is lowered for the groom to see his bride.

Kanyadaan

The bride’s parents offer her hand in marriage to the groom. The couple’s feet are washed with water and milk to purify them ahead of their new life together.

Hasta Melap

The bride’s hand is placed over the groom’s hand as the Brahman recites prayers. A string is tied around them to symbolise an unbreakable bond between the couple.

Agni puja

The couple lights a fire (Havan) as the Brahman recites prayers from the scriptures. The fire is lit to purify and sustain life.

Shila Arohan

The bride’s mother helps her to step on a stone or a slab which symbolises the bride overcoming obstacles as a wife, and leading her new life with peace and strength.

Laaj-Homa

The couple cup their hands together to offer barley and puffed rice into the fire, often poured by the bride’s brother. This symbolises jointly working together as husband and wife. The groom then anoints his bride’s forehead (near her parting) with red sindhoor (vermillion) and gives her a Mangal Sutra (gold and black necklace), these are both marks of a married woman.

Mangalfera

The couple walks around the Havan (fire) four times, each Fera (round) symbolising a different element of their new life:

First: Dharma (righteousness)
Second: Artha (wealth)
Third: Kama (desire)
Fourth: Moksh (salvation)

As they walk around the fire, the couple’s families shower them with petals.

Satapadi

This is the most important ceremony. Together, the bride and groom take seven steps which signify seven pillars of marriage:

First: To share food and nourishment
Second: To share and provide strength
Third: To prosper together
Fourth: To share wisdom, joys and sorrows
Fifth: To care for children and parents together
Sixth: For health and to remain by each other’s side
Seventh: For lifelong friendship

Suryadarshan and Dhruvdarshan

The Brahman directs the couple to bow to the sun and to look at the pole star together, to signify the strength and steadfastness of their relationship

Ashirwad

The couple seeks the blessing of their elders by touching their feet

Lunch

After the wedding, a lunch is served to celebrate the union. The couple may remain seated next to each other inside the mandap to receive guests and their blessings.

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