THE VIVAHA (MARRIAGE CEREMONIES)
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Wedding Ceremony : The wedding ceremony is basically performed by the
couple, the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents. However, the bride’s
brother, bride’s uncle (mother’s brother) are also called upon to give away
planet worship or the Graha Pujan, which I have explained earlier, is then
number of homas (rituals) follow, the chief among them being Rastrabhrt, Jaya,
Abhyatana and Laja Homa. The first contains prayers for victory and protection
from hostile powers known or unknown to the bridegroom. The last homa is a
ritual symbolical of prosperity. The brother of the bride pouts fried grains
mixed with sami leaves out of his cupped hands into her cupped hands. The bride
offers them with firmly joined hands to the fire while the bridegroom recites
the verses : “To the God Aryman the girl has made sacrifice, to Agni; may He,
loosen his hold on her, not from the husband’s side; may he, husband live
long: may relations be prosperous. May this sacrifice bring prosperity to thee,
and may it unite me with thee. May Agni (God of Fire) grant us that.”
The panigrahana or the grasping of the bride’s hand comes next. The bridegroom
seizes the right hand of the bride with “I seize thy hand for the sake of
happiness, that thou mayest live to old age with me, thy husband. Bhaga, Aryama,
Savitr. Purandhi, these gods have given thee to me, that art thou. That art
thou, this am I. The Saman am I, the Rk thou: the Heaven I, the Earth thou: Come
let us marry. Let us beget offspring. Let us acquire many sons and may they
reach old age. Loving, bright with genial minds, may we see a hundred autumns.
May we hear a hundred autumns.” This ceremony is symbolical of the taking
charge of responsibility of the girl. The responsibility is very sacred, as the
girl is supposed to be given not only by his father but also the above guardian
deities who are witnesses to every solemn contract. The prayer in the end is
suggestive of a fruitful, prosperous and happy married life.
the stone: In order to make
the wife firm in her devotion and fidelity to him, the husband makes her tread
on a stone to the north of the fire, with her right foot, repeating the verse:
“Tread on this stone, like a stone be firm. Tread the foes down; turn away the
enemies.” The stone, here, is symbolical of firmness and strength in crushing
the enemies. This ceremony is known as Asmarohana or “Mounting the stone”.
The couple then go round the fire while the husband recites the following
formula: “Thee they have in the beginning carried round Surya with the bridal
procession. May thou give back, Agni, to the husband the wife together with
Then the great Saptapadi or
the rite of seven steps takes place. The husband makes the wife walk forward
seven steps in a northern direction with the words: “One step for sap, two for
Juice, three for the prospering of wealth, four for comforts, five for cattle,
six for the seasons and seven for performing homas.” The objects referred to
in the above formula are essential for felicity. This ceremony is very important
from the legal point of view as marriage is regarded legally complete only after
it is performed. They then pray that God will provide them with the strength,
courage and integrity to:
Fulfill social, religious duties and responsibilities.
Share their wealth and possessions.
Share each other’s happiness and sorrows.
Protect themselves from the five inherent enemies, i.e. passion, anger, greed, attachment and ego.
Attain true enjoyment of all seasons.
Be faithful in mind and body.
Be associates in the worship of God, in the performance of Dharma (right
deeds), in the acquisition of property and fulfillment of desires.
the Saptapadi, water is sprinkled on the bride’s head and the formula is
chanted: “The blessed, the most blessed waters, the peaceful ones, the most
peaceful ones, may they give medicine to thee.” Water is famous for possessing
sanctifying properties among all religions. By this ceremony the bride is
supposed to be free from physical troubles and sanctified for the married life.
the husband touches the heart of the bride reaching over her right shoulder,
with the words: “Into my heart will I take thy heart: thy mind shall dwell In
my mind: in my world thou shall rejoice with all thy heart; May (prajapati) the
Lord join thee to me.” The heart is the centre of feelings. By touching it the
husband symbolically tries to rouse them to make them flow out to meet his own
heart and thus unite them in the world of love.
the bridegroom invites the assembled guests and relatives to bless the bride,
reciting the verses over her:
ornaments does this woman wear. Come to her and behold her and bless her.” The
sindura-dana or painting of red vermilion on the head of the bride by the
bridegroom takes place on this occasion. This ceremony is called “Sumanagali”.
At this stage of the marriage ceremonies, a number of rites are performed in
conformance with the local customs and traditions, such as tying of the garments
of the bride and the bridegroom, touching the cup of the banyan tree, touching
the nose at the arrival of bridegroom, besmearing the chest of the bridegroom
with curd, etc.
the ceremony proper ends at this point, a number of ceremonies relating to
marriage still remain to be performed. The first few are symbolical in their
nature. The bride is required to look at the sun, if the marriage takes place in
the daytime. In the night the bridegroom shows to the bride the pole star and
says: “Firm art thou, I see thee, the firm one. Firm be thou with me, O
thriving one. To me Brahaspati has given thee; obtaining offspring through me,
thy husband, live with me a hundred autumns.” According to other authorities
Arundhati star and the Saptarshi-Mandala (constellation of stars) should be also
shown to the bride. Whether she sees them or not, she is asked to reply when a
question is put to her, “I see. “ These performances are suggestive of firmness in the conjugal life.
the marriage the wife is supposed to sit on man’s left-hand side. The reason
may be to leave the right hand of man free to protect her and himself against
any intruder or any harm.
During the marriage ceremony the bride’s and the groom’s heads are
clasped together to denote that they are two and henceforth they should be one
in body and spirit. They both will also enjoy one destiny from now onwards.
man expresses that he accepts her the way she is, by placing her five fingers on
mythology, a woman has always worshipped her husband as her God, and by doing so
it is claimed by our legends that she sometimes achieved tremendous powers.
theory is based upon the theory of Bhakti (devotion of selfless service)
quality of devotion instills humility within the devotee. Whom you are devoted
to is immaterial; It may be to the country, to a cause, to scientific pursuit,
or to a person; however the spiritual uplift that the devotee acquires by
selfless service is tremendous.
a pativrata (husband-devotee) in no way proves that woman was inferior to man.
In olden days It was considered that for a man to lead a perfect life, four
things were essential: Dharma (Right deeds), Artha (Acquisition of property),
Kama (Fulfillment of desires) and Mokaha (Salvation of the soul), and it was
customary amongst certain Hindu communities for the groom to follow the bride
three times round the fire as that denoted that a woman was the embodiment of
the three qualities necessary for a perfect life-Dharma, Artha and Kama. As a
matter of fact, certain religious rituals were not considered complete unless
the wife participated with the man, and a couple was referred to as “Dampati”
which signified their unity in what they did and thought and they were likened
to the two wheels of a cart, both enjoying equal importance if they were to make
any progress on the road of life,
the wedding ceremony is over the couple leave for the groom’s house. Here, the
feet of the bride are washed. Then a cover is placed over her head while she is
made to sprinkle water on all corners of the house. This denotes that she should
keep the respect of the family, and veil its shortcomings, and if there are any
fights or misunderstandings within the family, she is supposed to cool them.
some communities it is also a custom to hold lit diyas (flames on small
containers made of clay) on the bride’s head to denote that as she enters the
house she should spread light all around her. The groom breaks a coconut in many
Hindu ceremonies we have the above custom.
In the Hindu religion it is claimed that to reach anywhere spiritually
you ought to get rid of the ego: the ego is a hard nut to crack, and that is
what the coconut stands for; (the breaking of the ego is what we hope to achieve
by breaking the coconut).
Amongst the Sindhis they have the custom of performing Datar, in which
salt is exchanged from the bride’s hands to the groom’s hand three times.
The bride also does the same with all the relatives from the in-law side.
is commonly believed by the Sindhis that if you do the above there will be no
arguments or fights between the bride and themselves. When salt mixes with food
it loses its identity, it mingles totally with the ingredients of the meal,
however, the presence of salt is felt because it gives the food taste.
by exchanging salt, the family subtly tells the new bride that she
is going to be part of the new family and she should mingle with them like salt
does with food.
the Hindus it is also believed that if you eat the salt of anybody’s house,
you ought to always be faithful to
that family. Exchanging salt is also symbolic of the above belief.
girl’s name is sometimes changed when she gets married. This is done to remind
her that she will be starting a fresh life with a fresh name. Also, the changing
of the bride’s name has a lot to do with Numerology, in cases where the family
priest after comparing the boy’s and girl’s name decides that the bride
should change her name as it would be better for both the parties in their
future life together.
day after the wedding, the bride normally goes back to her mother’s house for
the day. The merriment continues until most of the relatives that may have come
to attend the wedding leave for their respective houses.
of Hindu Marriages: A symbol
is a thing regarded by general consent as naturally typifying or representing
or recalling something by possession of analogous qualities or by association in
fact or thought. A symbol is not important by itself. It has only a vehicular
value and conveys something beyond it. It is a mode of expression, which
vivifies abstract, subtle, unfamiliar or supernatural ideas before common folk.
In ancient times when human fancy was stronger and the human speech was not
adequately developed to express every shade of thought, symbols played a very
important part. In religion and mythology they were commonly used. But even now
they have not lost their value. The most up-to-date political ideology, which
recognises little use of religion, employs symbols for its ends and ideals.
marriage and symbol: Hindu
marriage which the nuptials solemnize is not a social contract in the modern
sense of the term, but a religious institution, a sacrament. By it is meant that
besides the two human parties, the bride and the’ bridegroom, there is a
third superhuman, spiritual or divine element in marriage. The physical
conditions of the two parties are always subject to change and, as such, they
cannot form the permanent basis of marriage. It is on the third element on which
the permanent relationship between the husband and the wife depends. The husband
and the wife are responsible not only to each other, but they owe a greater
allegiance to this third element. This is the religious or mystic touch in the
purely social and material contract between a man and a woman. Without it the
conjugal life loses its charm and durability. The mystic aspect of Hindu
marriage necessitates the use of a number of symbols.
Thus the general function of the Hindu marriage is to cover all the
aspects of married life. The biological significance, the critical nature, the
physical and mental union of the couple moderation, the social transition and
sacrifice, these are the main features of the Hindu nuptials. They have been
symbolically suggested but not described in transparent prose, because conveyed
through symbols, they are better emphasized and become more eloquent and
and social change : The
nuptials, in their utterances, promises, hopes and fears, symbolise a great
social transition in the life of the bride and the bridegroom. They are no
longer irresponsible youths depending upon their parents for their bread and
views. The seriousness of life dawns upon them. They forsake their old families
to form a new one. They have to run an independent home, earn their own
livelihood, procreate children, and discharge their obligations towards society.
This is a life of responsibilities and cares. It is only in this sense that
Hindu marriage or Vivaha can properly be understood which means to lift, to
support, to hold up, and to sustain. This involves a great compromise and mutual
Those who marry only for pleasure are sorely disappointed. The essential
difficulties of life are not given a send off under the wedding canopy but, as a
matter of fact, the conscious acceptance of responsibilities in life is going
to be a veritable lesson in human endurance. We no doubt talk of a happy
marriage. A happy marriage is however possible when, though being united
physically, both partners contribute to each other’s progress as
Gibran has rightly said of marriage : “You
were born together, you shall be for ever more. You shall be together when the
white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the
winds of the heavens dance between you”.