Hindu Wedding Traditions: Understanding Diverse Customs and their Significance

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The Hindu wedding traditions and rituals would extend over several days. A Hindu wedding traditionally takes place across three days, though some couples may prefer to condense events to make it more comfortable. The first event, the Ganesh pooja, is a unique family gathering that begins the festivities. Next is the sangeet, attended by most guests and traditionally takes place on the second day and the mehndi ceremony. Finally, the main Hindu wedding ceremony and reception take place on the third day.

Hinduism has, at its essence, the Vedas, the spiritual scriptures that are the essence of India’s history and culture. The Vedas divide time into four different ashrams or stages: studentship, householder, retirement, and self-realization. Marriage, considered a sacrament, is the transition from studentship to householder. It forms the foundation for the following two stages of life.

Understanding Hindu Wedding Traditions

1. Roka Ceremony: Typically the first official appearance as a couple preparing to wed, this ceremony is deemed the first step toward the marriage. The families spend time collectively and exchange gifts and sweets to reveal their consent for the wedding.

2. Haldi Ceremony: Loved ones paint the wedding couple, each in their own homes, with a paste of rich yellow haldi. The colour yellow signifies beauty, fertility and purity, and it also wards off evil, thereby preparing the couple for life together and blessing them with good luck.

3. Ganesh Poojan: Ganesha is portrayed as possessing an elephant’s head. By invoking him, he eliminates any hindrances from the wedding ceremony. The ceremony may then be performed without restrictions. The Ganesh Poojan is completed anywhere from some days to the night before the wedding.

4. Arrival of the Baraat: As the groom and party, together called the vara yatra popularly baraat, arrive at the ceremony site amidst much singing and dancing, the bride’s parents, family and friends greet them akshat, tilak, aarti, and a garland.

5. Graha Shanti: Before the wedding begins, the nine planets are invoked by name in a ceremony called Grahashanti. Blessings are obtained from each planet for the new couple’s life collectively.

6. Kanyadan: The bride usually goes to the mandap with her brother or uncle, where the groom serves with the bride’s parents. The bride’s parents let their daughter go with the groom after marrying her in a pious and solemn ritual called kanyadan. The bride and groom embrace their hands open, and the bride’s father has his open palm over their hands.

7. Hastamilap: This ceremony centres on the joining of the bride and groom’s palms. The bride’s right hand is put on the right hand of the groom. Then, their hands are tied together with a cotton thread wound several times while the priest recites holy verses bringing the couple together in an unbreakable bond.

8. Exchanging Garlands: After the benediction to Ganesha, the wedding couple swaps floral garlands. These garlands are intended to welcome each other into each other’s families. They serve as a symbol of the desire to be married to one another and their families’ connection now.

9. Wedding Ceremony: The bride and groom are close seated in front of holy fire. In a ritual known as mangal phera, the bride and groom walk around the fire four times, praying and exchanging vows of duty, love, fidelity, and respect. After the phera ceremony, in a ritual described as saptapadi, the bride and groom observe seven vows, sealing the marriage eternally.

10. Sindoor: Once the ceremony is completed, a red powder called sindoor is applied to the part of the newly married bride’s hair to indicate that she is married.

Other ceremonies, such as bidhai and vadhupravesh, are focused on leaving the ceremony site and welcoming the bride to the groom’s home. And certain regions and sects have their variations on the basic Hindu ceremony.