Hindu Weddings

In Britain, Hindu weddings do not conform to the strict codes from each region of the Indian sub-continent. Although the variations in food, language, ceremonies are diverse, a standardised Hindu wedding has become popular over the years, allowing for time and budgetry constraints. The standardisation also acts as a unifiying glue to avoid conflicts when families are from different parts of sub-continent. The focus is on the union of the bide and groom and their families.

The Hindu Wedding ceremony comes from the ancient Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas, also known as the Vedic ceremony. The ceremonial sequence involves rituals such as the Ganesha Puja and the Kanya Daan. A number of festivities take place prior to the wedding day. According to the traditions of the Hindu from the North of India, bridal henna is placed on her hands; the deeper the colour, the more love and welcome she will encounter from her in-laws.

On the wedding day itself, many families are now bringing in rituals from the sub-continent such as the Groom arriving on a white horse and musicians playing Dholaks leading the Groom into the wedding hall. The essence of the Hindu wedding is that of festivities and joyous occasions where two families unite, to create an everlasting bond.

Mahurat

Once the bride and groom have agreed to marry, priests are called to astrologically fix a time for the wedding to take place. Priests use the dates of birth and calculate the auspicious time. The lineage of both the bride and groom is announced for those present to prove that they are not from the same clan as according to Hindu law, marriages within the same clan cannot take place.

Rituals Explained
Ganesh Puja

The wedding ceremony starts with a prayers dedicated to Lord Ganesha where salutations are offered and prayers so that Lord Ganesha will remove obstacles that the couple may face in their married life. These prayers are for their current lives and for incarnations to come.

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan means to protect one another. Symbolic red cords are tied to the wrists of the bride and groom to protect them through any turbulence they would face in their marriage.

Kanya Daan

Kanya Daan occurs at a specific moment in the ceremony where the father of the bride places her hand in the hand of the groom signifying her ‘giving away’ (Kanya: Daughter Daan: to give away) to him. In Hindu tradition, a man cannot claim a woman unless she is offered by the father or the elected head of the family.

Garlanding

The bride and groom exchange garlands. This is voluntary for both bride and groom and is a personal expression of their desire to marry one another. In the UK, this moment is also used to exchange rings.

Mangal Sutra

A modern day custom, the placing of a black and gold bead necklace by the Groom on the bride, is thought to invoke the Goddess Laxmi.

Homam

Unlike other religions, a Hindu marriage is not a contract, but a sacrament. The fire plays a key role in this sacrament, where it has to be kept burning during the ceremony and offerings are made by bride’s brother, where he gives three fistfuls of puffed rice as good wishes to his sister.

Sapta Padi

The seven steps or the Sapta Padi is when the couple take seven steps to pronounce their companionship and friendship. It is also a request to the gods for their blessing of the union. Many believe that the Sapta Padi can also be read as a union of seven lifetimes.

Sindhoor Daan

The vermillion (red) power that is placed in the parting of bride’s hair is the final act declaring the bride’s marital status.

Finally, the priest presiding over the marriage ceremony blesses the couple with good health and a happy marriage.

Here are some translations from the Veda’s that are read out during the ceremony:

“A circle is the symbol of the sun and the earth and the universe. It is a symbol of holiness and of perfection and of peace. In these rings it is the symbol of unity, in which your lives are now joined in one unbroken circle, in which, wherever you go, you will always return to one another and to your togetherness.”

“Let us take the first steps to provide for our household a nourishing diet, avoiding foods injurious to healthy living. Let us take the second step to develop physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Let us take the third step to increase our wealth by righteous means and proper use. Let us take the fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust. Let us take the fifth step so that we will be blessed with strong, virtuous children. Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity. Let us take the seventh step and be true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock.”

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