Hindu marriages signify pomp and celebrations and also witnesses lot of emotions. Hindu matrimony speak volumes of the rich culture, heritage and ethnicity of the country. In India Hindu marriages are more than just an alliance of families. Hindu marriages lay more emphasis on cultural values and customs. Hindu marriages are usually hosted by the bride’s parents and take place at a common place, decided in accordance with the bride and groom’s family. The ceremonies practised are essentially divided into pre wedding customs, wedding day ceremony and post wedding rituals.
The rituals and customs performed in each of the three phases have a deep significance and meaning. The pre wedding celebrations mainly includes engagement, sangeet, mehendi, haldi and tilak. Coming to the wedding day ceremonies, it involves different traditional rituals, each having its own meaning and role. One of the most important rituals of Hindu wedding is the seven rounds or sapta padi taken together, around the sacred fire, by the bride and the groom, while the seven vows or promise are read by the priest or purohit.
Hindu marriage ceremonies begin by welcoming the groom and his entourage, it is called “Barat Swagat”. The bride’s father then accepts the groom and the Antharpat is raised. Antharpat is a piece of cloth that separates the bride and groom. Prayers are then offered to Lord Ganesha to ward off any evils and to other gods and ancestors. Next, the Agni, a sacred fire, is lit on the prepared altar. Agni is the fire god and the light is considered very sacred – known to instill wisdom and drive away darkness from our lives. The bride is then escorted into the mandapam by her maternal uncle. The antarpat is removed and a knot is tied between the scarves of the bride and groom. This ritual is known as gathabandhan. It is followed by the “Kanyadaan” performed by both parents of the bride. Paanigrahan is the acceptance of her hand by the groom. In Hindu matrimony “Kanyadaan” or giving away the bride is considered as the greatest act (daan). After Kanyadaan the responsibility of the bride is transferred from her parents to her husband and his family. Later it is followed by “Saptapadi” taking seven steps around the holy pyre. Later, the Mangalsutra is tied around the bride’s neck. The bride and groom move inside the bride’s house to perform more rituals before the bride departs to her husband’s house.
Some Hindu marriages are done with great pomp, gaiety and last for several days. It is also marked by several events, some also on call celebrities to make the event more extravagant.