The marriage ceremony is consecrated in accordance with the Vedas, the
sacred scriptures of the Hindus. Throughout the ceremony, the priest
will recite Vedic verses in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language.
The marriage by Hindu culture is not just a union between the bride and
groom, but a union between families.
Var Aagamana (Welcoming the
Sunil arrives at the entrance of the wedding canopy (mandap),
accompanied by family members and friends. Auspicious materials are
carried along for good luck. The prospective mother-in-law Chandrika
performs a welcoming ceremony and will playfully try to grab his nose.
This tradition reminds the groom that he has come rubbing his nose at
their door asking for their daughter’s hand in marriage. The ceremony
signifies an attempt to drive away evil spirits. Sunil then approaches
the marriage altar.
Ganesh Puja (Prayer to Lord
All auspicious ceremonies begin with a prayer to Lord Ganesh requesting
him to remove any obstacles which may arise during the ceremony.
Kalash Puja and Punyaha Vachan
(Prayer to Lord Varuna)
Kalash Puja is performed to Varuna, Lord of the Water, to purify the
premises. The kalash is a symbol of respect to Gods witnessing the
Var Puja (Paying Respect to the
With the priest presiding, Gopi’s parents pay respect to Sunil by
washing his feet with milk and honey. At this time, Gopi’s cousins will
try to steal Sunil’s shoes. Traditionally the groom must leave the
wedding with the same pair of shoes that he entered with. If his shoes
are stolen, he must offer Gopi’s cousins money in order to get them
Mangalashtak (Request of
The priest requests all the planets, Gods, and Goddesses to bless the
couple with a happy and healthy married life.
Kanya Aagaman (Arrival of the
Gopi is led by her father to the marriage altar. At this time an
antarpat, or white cloth curtain, separates the bride and the groom.
A loop of white cotton wound 24 times, symbolizing different
characteristics and virtues of human life, is placed around the
shoulders of the bride and groom. The threads bind the two together to
fulfill their roles fully and sincerely.
Hasta Melap (Joining of Hands)
The priest joins the hands of both together while blessing upon them
all good wishes for a happy and healthy wedded life. They are now
married. The priest ties Gopi’s sari to Sunil’s scarf. This signifies
that they have been tied to each other in body, mind, and soul for the
rest of their lives.
Kanya Daan (Giving the Bride
Gopi’s father requests Sunil’s father to accept his daughter into their
family. The bond is tied between the two families for seven
Mala Arpan (Exchange of
Sunil and Gopi exchange flower garlands. This gesture symbolizes the
unification of their hearts.
Laja Homa (Offerings to the
Gopi’s brother Rahul gives the couple rice, oats, and leaves to offer
the fire. This signifies that the couple is willing to sacrifice all of
their worldly possessions because there is not anything greater and
more rewarding than receiving God’s blessing.
Mangal Phera (Holy Steps around
the Sacred Fire)
Gopi and Sunil circle the sacred fire four times, signifying the four
basic human goals of dharma (virtue), artha (wealth), kama (family),
and moksha (enlightenment). The priest bestows blessings for a long,
happy, and healthy marriage. As a fun tradition, at the end of the
rounds the bride and groom will run to sit down. It is said that the
one who takes a seat first will have the upper hand in the household.
Sapta Padi (Seven Vows)
Sunil helps Gopi touch seven betel nuts on rice with her right toe
while they recite each of the seven vows:
We will respect each other.
We will care for each other.
We will be patient with each other.
We will be honest and faithful to each other.
We will be together in sorrow and happiness.
We will travel this journey of life with love and harmony.
We will keep our family happy, healthy, and strong.
Mangalsutra (Sacred Necklace)
Sunil promises lifelong protection by offering a mangalsutra (sacred
necklace) to Gopi and placing kumkum (red colored powder) on the crown
of his wife’s head. These two offerings signify the mark of married
women and serve as a symbol of the husband’s love, integrity, and
Although not a Hindu custom, Sunil and Gopi exchange rings at this
Kansar Bhojan (First Meal
The ceremony is culminated by the couple sharing their first meal
together when each offers kansar (a sweet made from crushed wheat) to
Aashirvaad (Blessings from the
Finally, before the newlywed couple leaves the marriage altar, the
priest blesses the couple on behalf of the Gods and Goddesses with
everlasting happiness. At this time the couple also receives blessings
from family members and friends.