Culloden Hotel Belfast – Hindu wedding
Swagatam (Welcoming of the Groom)
Accompanied by his family and friends (the Baraat), Premesh arrives at the venue and is welcomed by Richa’s family after receiving the blessings of his elders. Holy water is sprinkled on the Baraat to bless and welcome them and Premesh is then escorted by Richa’s parents to the Mandap.
Milni (Meeting of the Two Families)
Richa’s mother greets the groom with a welcoming ritual. Premesh and his family receive tikkas from the Richa’s mother who performs an Aarti (special prayer) over them. Relatives of the bride and groom embrace and greet each other with garlands; this is considered the formal meeting of the two families, though they’ve usually met long before the actual day of the ceremony.
The bride’s family then escorts Premesh to the Mandap, a canopied altar where the ceremony is performed. The Mandap represents the home that the bride and groom will make together.
Hindu Marriage Ceremony
The Hindu marriage ceremony is a union of two souls. The rituals of the ceremony are based on hymns contained in the Vedas, sacred Hindu scriptures which are over 5000 years old. It is consecrated in the presence of God as represented by the five elements of nature (Fire, Earth, Water, Air and Ether), which play an integral role in the ceremony.
The ceremony takes place under a canopy known as a Mandap which represents the couple’s first home. Supported by four pillars, each represents the fundamental elements of religion, Truth, Mercy, Meditation and Purity.
Ganesh Puja (Prayer to Lord Ganesha)
The ceremony begins with an invitation to Lord Ganesha so that his divine grace, power, love and spiritual strength may remove all obstacles for the Bride and Groom. The priest guides the Groom and Bride’s parents in offering flowers, sweets, and prayer to Lord Ganesha.
Kanya Aagman (Entrance of the Bride)
Richa enters the hall and is escorted to the Mandap by her brothers, sisters, cousins and close friends.
Jai Mala (Exchange of Flower Garlands)
Premesh and Richa exchange floral garlands which symbolise the unification of their hearts, minds, souls, and their mutual agreement to continue with the ceremony. Once the Bride approaches the Mandap, the Bride and Groom exchange floral garlands and sometimes deliver a sort of vow in which they promise to be united forever – signifying their acceptance of one another. Apparently, whoever can put the garland on their partner first will have the upper hand in the marriage.
Joota Chupai (Stealing of the Groom’s Shoes)
When the Groom enters the Mandap for the wedding ceremony, he takes off his shoes. As soon as they are off his feet, the eldest unmarried girls (sisters, cousins, bridesmaids) from the Bride’s side of the family run off with them (usually laughing and tripping over their lehngas). The girls then hide the shoes somewhere they know the groom and his family won’t be able to find them. The groom must leave the Mandap in the same shoes he came in with so, after the ceremony, the girls ransom the shoes off to the groom. The bit at the end, where the groom gives the girls money, is his way of welcoming the girls into his family and it signals to them that he will take care of them as they are now his sisters as well.
Madhu Parka Vidhi (Ceremony to Ensure Enduring Friendship)
Richa offers Premesh Madhu Parka (a sweet consisting of honey and yogurt). Premesh takes the sweet and recites the words, “I will always cultivate in me the sweetness of the Madhu Parka in all my dealings.”
Special prayers are recited at this time to wish the couple happiness, prosperity, and a peaceful marriage.
Kanyadaan (Giving Away of the Bride)
Kanayadaan is a very sacred step in the wedding ceremony to be performed by the Bride’s parents. Richa’s father seeks a pledge from the Groom of his enduring love, fidelity, and security in caring for the Bride. The most significant gift parents can give is their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Granthi Bandhan (Tying the Knot)
The Groom’s scarf is tied to the Bride’s outfit, signifying an everlasting bond and that they have become one body and soul. Once the knot is tied they are officially joined in marriage.
Agni Puja (Lighting of the Sacred Fire)
The sacred fire, Agni, which represents the God of Fire, is symbolically kindled as a divine witness to the marriage. It represents an eternal light, dispelling all darkness in the Bride and Groom’s life together in marriage.
Pani Grahan Vidh (Sacred Vows)
Richa takes the hand of Premesh and they both make a solemn pledge with God as their witness. They declare to the assembled that their hearts have been united by God, that they have become one and that they will always love each other.
Shila Rohan Vidhi (Rock Ceremony)
Premesh requests that Richa places her right foot on a piece of rock signifying that the Bride and Groom promise to remain true to each other, as firm and steadfast as a rock.
Mangalfera (Circling the Holy Fire)
Premesh and Richa walk around the fire four times, which solidifies their marriage and makes them husband and wife. The four rounds symbolize their journey of life along the four paths of life:
Dharma: (Obligations and Duty) – Duty to each other, family, and society
Aartha: (Wealth and Prosperity) – Earning honorably and supporting each other
Karma: (Deeds) – Unconditional love
Moksha: (Enlightenment) – Eternally uniting with God through prayers and meditation.
At the onset of each round, the Bride’s brother fills the couple’s palms with puffed rice which is then poured into the fire, praying for their great health and bountiful wealth, prosperity, and happiness.
The Groom leads the first three rounds and the Bride leads the fourth round. After the final round, both will step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like the stone. The priest asks the couple to sit down and whoever sits first is believed to rule the household.
Saptapadi (Seven Steps)
In the presence of God, relatives, friends and Agni, Premesh and Richa recite the seven vows and promises they make to each other:
Step 1: Together we shall nourish each other, avoid what is harmful to healthy living, and cherish each other in sickness and in health.
Step 2: Together we shall develop physical, mental, and spiritual powers to attain peace, happiness, and spirituality.
Step 3: Together we shall aim to increase our wealth by righteous means, prosper and share worldly goods, and conquer all obstacles that we may encounter.
Step 4: Together we shall acquire knowledge, courage, strength, happiness, and live in harmony with mutual love and respect.
Step 5: Together we shall be blessed with strong and virtuous children and share responsibilities of home and children.
Step 6: Together we shall always be true to each other, work together for prosperity and happiness, and cherish this world.
Step 7: Together we shall strive for longevity and remain life-long partners forever.
The Bride and Groom are pronounced husband and wife and henceforth, Richa sits on the left side of Premesh to signify that she will forever be close to his heart.
Mangal Sutra (Tying of the Auspicious Necklace)
Premesh places an auspicious necklace around Richa’s neck welcoming her to the family; a symbol of unity, love, friendship and his enduring commitment to their marriage.
Pathi Purvani (Blessing of the Bride)
Premesh places sindhoor (red powder) along the parting in Richa’s hair to show that she is a married woman and promises to forever protect her and keep her happy.
Aana Prashana (Feeding each other Sweets)
Premesh and Richa feed each other Indian sweets.
Aashirwad (Final Blessing)
As Premesh and Richa are showered with petals, the couple seeks blessings for a long and happy marriage from the priest, parents, family and friends.
Doli (Going Away of the Bride to the Groom’s House)
The bride says her final goodbye to her family and the father gives his prized possession to the Groom’s father. The procession ends joyfully, yet is often bittersweet for those closest to the Bride and Groom.