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The Hindu Vedic Wedding

 

Introduction

Hindu wedding (vivah ????? or shadi ???? in Hindi,  pelli ?????? in Telugu ,panigrahana ????????? in Sanskrit, other terms are also used) ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted .

Basic components of the Hindu Wedding

The Hindu marriage ceremonies vary in different regions and according to family traditions. The major ceremonies are the following.

Many of the ceremonies involve the pandit (priest) chanting mantras of various prayers and blessings for the couple.

Though Mangalya dharanam (tying of the holy mangalsutra) is considered to be the important part of the marriage, the wedding is considered complete only after Saptapadhi. While these are the main ceremonies the Hindu marriage ceremony consists of these major rituals as described below but every part of India may have some variations . Variations notwithstanding, the basic ceremony is surprisingly similar especially amongst Hindus, and Jains regardless of geography, climate and language across the length and breadth of the subcontinent.

A Telugu Wedding

Telugu Wedding

A Telugu Wedding is an elaborate affair and comprises of a large number of rituals and ceremonies that spread over several days. It may be noted that there may be certain regional and caste variations regarding ceremonies related to Telugu wedding ceremony. However, what remains essentially the same is the highest regard of Telugu people for the institution of marriage.

Here is a short description of some of the popular pre-wedding rituals of a Telugu marriage ceremony.

Pre-Wedding Rituals:

  • Nischitaartham

Significance of Nischitaartham

The wedding ceremony is the most celebrated social event in Indic societies . The concept of marriage as a major event in a human life, can be traced back to Vedic times. Mostly Hindu marriage ceremonies are elaborate ones and they may last for a few days especially among those who are wealthy enough to afford the same. Although the main wedding ceremony is a one-day affair, there are different ceremonies that are held on separate days preceding the main wedding ceremony. According to Hindu religion out of sixteen ceremonies in a person's lifetime, marriage is considered to be the thirteenth one. In most Indic societies where arranged marriages are not uncommon, the decisions regarding the conduct of the marriage are made jointly.

Once they decide, the date of the engagement and marriage is fixed. There are various pre wedding functions and rituals one of which is the engagement ceremony, and which is the most important since it marks the beginning of the wedding ceremony. In this day and age, especially among the Diaspora when an extended courtship appears to be the norm rather than the exception,  it is not uncommon for an engagement ceremony to be held months before the wedding  is conducted. It is known by different names in different regions of the country such as Misri, ring ceremony, aashirwad, Vaagdaanam or Vaakdaana , Nischitaartha and mangni. Nischitaartha means the process of making a decision and a commitment to each other, and is generally the term used in the Southern part of India. The term literally means "firming up". The ceremony is based on vedic practices going back over 5000 years begins with a Ganapati  Puja and consists mainly of pledges between the 2 fathers. This is done by invoking the lineage of the families and making a formal proposal for the alliance. Variations notwithstanding, the general practice is for the father of the bride to make the initial overture. The affirmative response by the parents of the groom, signifies the resulting commitment to the marriage

In the Western tradition, an engagement consisting mainly of a proposal by the prospective groom  to the intended bride to marry him is generally made in private and is accompanied by the gift of a ring to the lady. an engagement party may then take place depending on the interval between the engagement and the marriage itself

 

  • Muhurtam: Muhurtam means determining the auspicious part of the day for the marriage. The period that is considered auspicious starts from 7.00 p.m. and goes on till the next day until about 11 am. Telugu Weddings don't usually take place in the months of Aashad, Bhadrapada and Shunya as these months are considered not auspicious. The following are the names of the months in the Hindu calendar
  • Chaitra         
    Vaishakh  
    Jeshta  
    Ashadh  
    Shrawan(Sawan)  
    Bhadrapad(Bhado)   
    Ashwin   
    Kartik  
    Margshirsh   
    Paush   
    Magha
    Falgoon (Fagan)  
  • Pendlikoothuru: This ceremony involves anointing the bride and the groom with oil and turmeric before bath. Following the bath, the couple dons new clothes. The bride-to-be wears flowers in her hair. She also adorns her forehead with a bindi or vermilion dot and wears bangles on her wrists.
  • Snathakam: Snathakam ceremony is performed at the bridegroom's house before the muhurtam. It is a sort of thread ceremony that involves making the groom wear a silver thread on his body.
  • Kashi Yatra: This is an extremely joyful ceremony. Following the tradition, after the recitation of Vedic verses, the groom pretends to leave for Kashi, a pilgrimage center to become an ascetic. He carries a walking stick and other essentials to show that he is not interested in becoming a householder anymore. He relents and agrees to the marriage only after he is stopped and persuaded by the bride's brother to fulfill his responsibilities as a householder.
  • Mangala Snaanam: Following the custom, the bride and groom must take a Mangala Snaanam or an auspicious bath on the day of the wedding. The bath is believed to cleanse and purify them and make them ready for the sacred rites that are to follow.
  • Aarti: After the ceremonial bath, the bride and groom are anointed with oil at their respective homes. Their families perform aarti. The ceremony is significant as it carries with it the family's prayer that the mind of the bride/groom be illuminated by wisdom.
  • Ganesh and Gauri Pooja: The bridegroom performs Ganesh pooja in the mandapam or wedding hall just before the marriage ceremony. Worshipping the revered Ganesha who is the remover of all obstacles. Similarly, the bride performs Gauri Puja and seeks blessings for a blissful married life.


Wedding Rituals

 

A typical Telugu Wedding is full of joyous and colorful rituals. Please read on to know more about Telugu Wedding traditions.

  • Kanyadaan: A significant part of Hindu weddings, the Kanayadaan is that part of the marriage ceremony in which the girl's family gives her away to the groom. In a traditional Telugu wedding, bride's maternal uncle carries her in a bamboo basket to the mandapam where a curtain separates the bride and bridegroom. They are not to see each other until after the marriage ceremony. The priest invokes the blessings of the ancestors belonging to the last seven generations of both families. The bride's parents wash the groom's feet in a gesture that symbolizes their belief that he is a form of God to whom they now offer their daughter's hand.
  • Jeelakarra Bellamu: After the priest recites the wedding shlokas from the Vedas, the bride and groom apply a paste of cumin seeds (jeera) and jaggery on each other's hands. This is known as Jeelakarra-Bellamu. This slightly bitter cumin and sweet jaggery when ground together turn into an inseparable mixture. The custom signifies that bride and groom are supposed to become inseparable through life's bitter and sweet times.
  • Madhuparkam: For the Madhuparkam ceremony the bride wears a white cotton sari with a red border, while the groom dons a white cotton dhoti with a red border. White signifies purity and chastity, while red color represents strength.
  • Sumangli: Under this ceremony, ten married women (Sumangalis) accompany the bride. Six of them hold plates full of rice and turmeric powder mixed together. The remaining hold plates with small lamps made from a mixture of rice flour, sugar and milk. Rice signifies abundance while lit lamps represent sweetness and light, two qualities that the bride brings with her to this new phase of life.
  • Tying of the Mangalsutra: To carry out this ritual, the curtain between the bride and the groom is removed. After offering prayers, the groom ties the two strings each with a golden disc representing the Mangalsutra separately around the bride's neck with three knots to represent the strength of their union physical, mental and spiritual.
  • Kanyadaan Akshata: After the mangalsutra ceremony, the couple exchange garlands. Those present at the wedding shower their blessings on the couple by sprinkling flowers and turmeric-colored rice or Akshat on them.
  • Saptapadi: 'Saptapadi' or seven steps are what the couple takes together. In this ceremony the bride's saree and the groom's dhoti are tied together at one end in a knot. In each step that he takes, the groom prays for life-long blessings. During this ceremony, saris, ornaments and other gifts are offered to the couple and to other family members.
  • Sthaalipaakam: In this sweet ceremony, the groom slips silver toe rings on the bride's feet. The girl is also adorned with a string of black beads, to protect her from the evil eye.


Post-Wedding Rituals:

Given here is a short description of some prominent post-wedding rituals of a traditional Telugu Wedding.

  • Grihapravesh: When the marriage ceremony is over the bride is ceremonially taken to the groom's home for Griha Pravesh (entering the house for the first time). Here, the in-laws give the bride a warm welcome.
  • Uniting the Mangalsutra: As is customary in a Telugu wedding, the two mangalsutras are united on a common thread 16 days after the wedding. An elder member of the family or the husband himself can unite the two mangalsutras on a common thread. A few black or golden beads are slipped between the two plates so that they don't clash with each other. Signifying harmony between the two families. The bride takes a bath and wears a new sari before wearing the mangalsutra on this day. 16 days are symbolic of the time needed by the bride to understand her husband's family.

 

The Hindu Vedic Wedding

 

http://www.regalcards.com/wedding_ceremony.htm 

Wedding Ceremony

Mehendi and Peeth

i

A day before the wedding the palm and feet of the bride are decorated with "Mendhi". A canopy or mandap decorated with flowers is erected at the place of wedding. On the wedding morning, various ablutionary rituals are performed on both the bride and the groom in their own homes. Their bodies are anointed with turmeric, sandalwood paste and oils, which cleanse the body, soften the skin, and make it aromatic. They are then bathed to the chanting of Vedic mantras

 

Laya (Laja) Homa : The Oblation of Parched Grain



Here the bride offers sacrifice of food (poured into her hands by her brother or someone acting in her brother's behalf) to the Gods for their blessings. "This grain I spill. May it bring to me wellbeing and unite you to me. May Agni hear us." He then asks the bride to spill the grain into the fire, saying: "This woman scattering grain into the fire, prays: Blessings on my husband. May my relatives be prosperous".

 

 

 

Vara Yaatra ,Baarat (Wedding Procession)



The Bridegroom arrives for the wedding along with his family and friends in a procession. They are then received by the bride's family and friends.

 

Swaagatam/Milni

 

Commencement of Marriage


The priest commences the marriage under a canopy that is specially decorated for the ceremony. The priest invokes blessings of God for the couple to be married. The bride offers yogurt and honey to the groom as a token of purity and sweetness. The bride greets the groom by placing a garland around his neck and the groom reciprocates. Both are congratulated by guests. The priest invokes the memory and blessings of forefathers of the bride and the groom for this auspicious occasion.

 

Vara Puja

JaiMala

Pravara

 

Kanya Daanam (Giving Away of the Daughter)


The bride accepts her change of status from an unmarried woman to a wife by spreading turmeric powder on her hands. Kanya Danam is performed by the father (or uncle of guardian) of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding. The father pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bridegroom. The groom recites Vedic hymns to Kama, the God of love, for pure love and blessings. As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride requests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends : dharma, artha, and kama. The groom makes the promise by repeating three times that he will not fail the bride in realizing dharma, artha and kama.

 

 Paanigrahana or Hasta Milap (Holding the Hand)


The bridegroom stands facing west and the bride sits in front of him facing east. He seizes her hand and recites Vedic hymns for happiness, long life, and a lifelong relationship When the Bridegroom Takes the Bride's Hand, He Says : "O Sarasvati, gracious one, rich in off spring, you whom we hymm first of all the Gods, may you prosper this marriage. "I seize your hand."

 

Maangalyadhaaranam (Tying the mangalsutra) OR Mangal Sutra DhArana

The Mangala sutra DhArana is the tying of the thread containing the marks of the Vishnu or Shiva in the neck of the bride by the groom.




 

Vivaaha (Wedding)



The bride and the bridegroom face each other, and the priest ties their garments (the bride's saree to the groom's shirt) in a knot, symbolizing the sacred union. The bride and the bridegroom garland each other and exchange the rings. Next the nuptial fire, symbolizing the divine witness, and the sanctifier of the sacrament, is installed and worshipped. Both the bride and the groom grasp their hands together and pray to God for His blessings. Samagree, consisting of crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice, ghee (clarified butter), and twigs is offered into the sacred fire to seek God's blessings for the couple.

 

Agni Parinaya or Mangal Phera : The Circumambulation of the Fire

The bridegroom holds the bride by the hand and both walk three times around the nuptial fire. Both offer oblations and recite appropriate Vedic hymns to Gods for prosperity, good fortune, and conjugal fidelity. They touch each others heart and pray for union of their hearts and minds While walking around the bridegroom repeats: "First now they bring to you in bridal procession this Surya, guiding her steps in circular motion. Return her now, O Agni, to her husband as rightful wife, with hope of children to come." Then the entire rite is repeated twice more, beginning with the rite of the fried grain. At the fourth round she pours into the re all the fried grain from the mouth of the winnowing basket saying: "To Bhaga Svaha!"

 

Asmaarohana or Shilarohana (Mounting the Stone)

 

At the end of each round of nuptial fire, both the bride and the groom step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like the stone.

Saptapadi (Seven Steps)


This is the most important rite of the entire ceremony. Here the bride and the bridegroom take seven steps together around teh nuptial fire (Agni) and make the following seven promises to each other :As per the Vedic rituals, the bridegroom sings the following : With God as Our Guide, Let Us Take,

  • the first step to nourish each other
  • the second step to grow together in strength
  • the third step to preserve our wealth
  • the fourth step to share our joys and sorrows
  • the fifth step to care for our children
  • the sixth step to be together forever
  • the seventh step to remain lifelong friends,

 
the perfect halves to make a perfect whole. After the seventh step he makes her remain where she is and says: "With seven steps we become friends. Let me reach your friendship. Let me not be severed from your friendship. Let your friendship not be severed from me." The Saptapadi ceremony concludes with a prayer that the union is indissoluble. At the end of this ceremony, the bridegroom and bride become husband and wife. In some communities such as Gujarati, instead of seven, only four steps, signifying Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha are taken.

According to  Indian Civil Law, this ,the taking of the 7th step signifies the defining moment of a Hindu marriage

 

 

Suhaag or Sindhoordana



The groom places sindhoor (red powder) on the bride's hair symbolizing her as a married woman.


Post-Marriage Game Playing

There are several regional variations to this ceremony.

Aeki-Beki

In the groom’s house a game called aeki-beki is played, by placing a ring and several coins in a tray of water which is colored by vermilion and milk. It is said that the person who finds the ring four times, will rule the house

Talambra

In many South Indian marriages the rice mixed with the turmeric is poured over the heads of groom and bride, by bride and groom. After this there are ceremonies of name calling singing and other games aimed at the bringing the bride and the groom closer.


Arundhati Darshan

 

Arundhathi Darshana is the showing of the Saptha Rishi Mandala and the small star Arundhathi underneath the star of Vashistha. These seven sages and their families are the originators of the Vedic Lore of the Hindus. In memoriam of these great sages the seven stars in the Great Bear constellation are named after them. The significance of this ritual is to remind the couple of the cosmic responsibilities they have to fulfill. Darshan of these Great Sages is intended to remind the couple the heritage they have to carry and the debt to the sages they have to pay.



Dhruva Darshan - Looking at the Polestar

 

After sunset he shows her the polar star, saying: "You are firm and I see you. Be firm with me, O nourishing one! Brhaspati has given you to me, so live with me a hundred years bearing children by me, your husband."

 

Aashirvaad

The groom's parents bless the couple and offer cloth or flower to the bride (now their daugher-in-law), symbolizing her joining of the groom's family. All those assembled shower flowers on the couple and bless them completing the marriage.

 

Grahapravesha - Entering the Home

 

The couple depart from the girl’s house after the vidai , for the groom’s house. They carry behind the couple the sacred fire in a vessel. They should keep the fire constantly alight. When they reach his house, he says: "Enter with your right foot. Do not remain outside." The bride enters the home placing the right foot - considered auspicious, first. When the bride and the groom enter the groom's house, the mother of the groom welcomes the bride by doing an arati. They sit silently until the stars are visible.

 

 


 

 

 

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