The Hindu Wedding Ceremony


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 Groom)
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 Ganesh)
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 wedding ceremony.

Var Puja (Paying Respect to the Groom)
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 back.

Mangalashtak (Request of Blessings)
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 Bride)
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.

Varmala (Garland)
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 Away)
Gopi’s father requests Sunil’s father to accept his daughter into their family. The bond is tied between the two families for seven generations.

Mala Arpan (Exchange of Garlands)
Sunil and Gopi exchange flower garlands. This gesture symbolizes the unification of their hearts.

Laja Homa (Offerings to the Fire)
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 devotion.

Although not a Hindu custom, Sunil and Gopi exchange rings at this time.

Kansar Bhojan (First Meal Together)
The ceremony is culminated by the couple sharing their first meal together when each offers kansar (a sweet made from crushed wheat) to the other.

Aashirvaad (Blessings from the Elders)
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.