Indian Wedding Ceremony

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Indian wedding ceremony

Marriage in Sanskrit language is called ‘vivaha’. The male is expected to be about twenty-five years of age and the female to have attained about sixteen years. Two individuals who have lived independently now form a life-long companionship. It becomes a life of unity based on perfect harmony. It is performed with faith and is very symbolic.

Types of Marriages:

1. Brahmya

2. Daiva (marriage to a priest)

3. Aarsha

4. Praajaapatya

5. Gaamdharva

6. Aasura

7. Raaxasa (uncivilised)

8. Paishaachya (Satanic) 

The first four fall under what is known as “arranged marriage” and  means the marriage that is “arranged” by father (or guardian) of a girl. The gaamdharva means love marriage which is decided by the girl and the boy seeking to become man and wife. Raaxasa is a forced marriage where a girl is abducted by defeating or killing her relatives and guardians and is forced to marry the abductor and in paishaachya (satanic) marriage the girl is raped and rapist offers (or forces her) to marry her.

There are a number of rituals and ceremonies performed before and during the wedding. The first being the ‘misri’ or ring engagement. This is a pre wedding ceremony and involves oral agreement and ‘lagna patra’ (written declaration).

It proceeds with the ‘mehendi’ ceremony where all the brides friends and relatives gather up to have henna drawn on their hands beautifully. After this, they have the ‘sangeet’ where the whole community and invited guests by the bride and groom’s family gather to play ‘ras-garba’ - is the traditional folk dance form of Vrindavan, India.

The majority of the wedding ceremony will take place in a Mandap (the four-pole canopy at centre stage). The priest chants "mantras" from the Vedas. He will use the following in his ceremonies:

• Fresh flowers - to signify beauty;
• Coconut - to signify fertility;
• Rice, jaggery and other grains - to signify the food necessary for sustenance of human life; • Ghee (purified butter) - to feed the sacred fire;
• Kumkum (vermilion) - red powder used for marking the forehead to signify good luck.

The major stages of the Hindu Ceremony:

Ganesh Puja
The wedding day starts with a prayer invoking Lord Ganesh whose divine grace dispel all evils and promotes a successful and peaceful completion of the ceremony. Grah Shanti (Worship to the Nine Planets)

This is a prayer to the nine planets of our Solar system. Ancient Indian studies indicated that various celestial bodies have an influence on the destiny of every individual. The effect of the nine planets is meant to be the most profound. During this puja, the Gods associated with these planets are asked to infuse courage, peace of mind and inner strength to the bride and groom to help them endure life's sufferings. The Welcome (Parchan)

The custom starts with the reception of the bridegroom with a garland and his kinsmen at the entrance gate of the wedding hall. She then escorts the groom to the mandap. Arrival of the Bride
The bride is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncle (Mama), female cousins and friends. In some wedding ceremonies she may be carried in a small carriage to the mandap. Kanyadaan (Entrusting of the Daughter)

The kanyadaan is then done by the parents or guardians of the bride. Kanya means daughter and daan is for the transfer of responsibility. The parental responsibility of the girl child is transferred from the one performing the kanyadaan to the prospective husband. Consent of the parents is obtained for the wedding to proceed. The bride's parents give their daughter to the groom by putting the bride's right hand into the groom's right hand (Hastamelap - joining of hands) while reciting sacred verse. The elders of the house place an auspicious white cotton cord around the couple's shoulder's to protect them from the evil influences. This also symbolises the couple's bond. The groom holds the...
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