Continued from Hindu Marriage - 04
pravesha hOmam:Fire ritual of entry
On coming home along with the bride from the bride’s parental home, the ritual performed by the groom is this praveSha hOma. In some cases this is performed in the bride-giver’s home, or in the marriage venue itself. This gives the bride all rights and powers. Some of the mantras in this context are:
samraajnee swashurEbhava samraajneeswashraambhava
nanaandari samrajneebhava samraajnee adhi dEvrushu
snushaaNaagam swashuraaNaam prajaayaascha dhanasyacha
patinnancha devrooNancha sajataanaam viraaDbhava
Be affectionate towards parents-in-law and brothers and sisters-in-law. Look after and sustain your progeny and all in the home their money and everyone in the family
The bride thinks about her place in her husband’s family thus:
grihaan bhadraan tsumanasah prapadyE
veeraghnee veeravatassu veeraan iramvahatO
ghruta mukshamaaNaastEshvahagam sumanaa ssamvishaami
I am obtaining the most beautiful home of my husband. The father-in-law and the mother-in- law in this house are people who keep their daughter-in-law happy and contented. I would get into this house where there are plenty of courageous men and abundant anna, food and ghrita, clarified butter.
Then the groom tells her: “Dear! Be particularly attentive to the performance of fire rituals, treating all guests. Make your life an accomplished and fulfilled one, experiencing all comforts and discharging all your duties, being a role-model for your progeny and others too.”
There are many chants in this section where the meaning and purpose of marriage and the role of the daughter-in-law are explained. The bride’s rights and responsibilities are set forth clearly and emphatically. Performing these ceremonies with understanding would do a great deal of good to everyone in the family.
2. Gandharva pratishThaapanam : Installation of the Gandharva
Traditionally this is to worship Vishwaavasu, the Gandharva by invoking him into a mango leaf stem and after the worship, to keep the stem on a string and wear it on the waist. The sentence uttered then is: “vishwaavasOtra gandharvah danDE raatritrayam vasa aavayOh preetimutpaadya rakshamaam shubhalakshaNam.”
O Gandharva! Grace us staying with us all these three nights enhancing our mutual attraction and let it enhance the affection for each other.
This mantra is uttered addressing all those who attended the wedding:
sumanagalee riyam vadhoorimaagam samEta pashyata
saubhaagya masyEdatwaa yaadhaashtam viparEtana
This bride is sure to live long as an auspicious woman with your blessings. Having seen the wedding giving her your blessings again, kindly reach you respective homes.
3. Nakshatra darshan: Having the audience of the star Dhruva
After the stars rise, the couple turning either east or north should go: the groom shows first the star Dhruva and later Arundhati. The significance is that it is wished that the bride should be stable like Dhruva star pure and totally faithful like Arundhati to her husband.
dhruvakshitirdhruva yOnir dhruva masi dhruvata sthitam
tvam nakshtraaNam mEdhyasi sa maapaahi prutanyatah
Oh Dhruva! You are everlasting in the indestructible place ever stable. You are the centre of the stars and keeping them moving and proverbial for stability and steadfastness. With your great qualities you reached that august position and state. You ascribe your stability to us and save us from all those who try to harm us.
Man cannot achieve anything with his own effort alone. Man needs God’s grace and His help. There is need for man to think of Him and offer worship without forgetting the duty after getting happily married. He along with his better half should worship his household deities as well as God. Dhruva got his position with his unwavering devotion. He should be the ideal for the groom. Arundhati should be the ideal for a woman.
4. Arundhati darshan: Having the audience of Arundhati, the most sacred woman
Hindus, after the ceremony of marriage make it a point to have the darshan of Arundhati and Dhruva. Most people do not understand why Arundhati is to be shown to the bride. Arundhati is the wife of Sage Vashishtha; she the paragon of the virtue of fidelity to her husband. Those who know dharma elucidate that being so great a pativrata, paragon of wifely fidelity, she can bless the bride to be so devoted to her husband and win the acclaim of all around.
There is an important scientific reason too behind this practice. The groom shows the bride after the wedding. The bride should have the knowledge of the stars and their locations in the sky at different times. He should learn all these during his stay at the gurukul. In those days there were no clocks and no calendars. It is the sun during the day and the stars in the night to provide the basis for the calculation of time. The idea of this observance is that the groom should share his knowledge of the stars with his better half beginning that night after showing the star Arundhati in the sky to his wife.
Though there are countless stars in the sky, Arundhati is given the importance owing to many reasons. This star is very small but being in the constellation of the seven stars which make saptarshi manDala, this is very renowned. It is seen easily also by being there.
Usually this star appears in the northern solstice, uttaraayaNa, in the three ritus of shishira, vasantha and greeshma, which occur roughly from November to June according to the English calendar at the evening time. Later, in other months it can be seen past midnight or early morning. For this reason, weddings are performed largely in uttaraayaana.
saptarushayah prathammam krittikaanaa marundhateem
yadhdhruvataagam haninyuuh shatkruttikaa mukhya yOgam
vahanteeya masmaaka mEdha tvashThamee
Among rushi patnees, wives of sages and seers, Arundhati is applauded as the most venerable. The bride too is inspired and enthused to be as famous as Arundhati. This is also a blessing.
kashyapOtrirbharavaajO viswaamitrOdha gautamah
vashishtO jamadagni scha saptaitE rushayastadhaa
Kashyap, Atri, Bharadwaja,Visaamitra, Gautama, Vashishtha and Jamadagni are the seven sacred seers. Arundhati is the daughter of Kardama prajapati, the lawgiver and Devahooti.
The bride and the groom have to offer salutations to these seven and offer arghya to them.
Then follows the asheervachana, which is benediction or blessing.
5. Sthaaleepaakam cooking in the sthali, the venue.
For this hOma, the bride has to pound enough rice from the paddy and cook it. From this cooked rice, she had to appropriate portions as fire-offering to deities and with the rest should feed at least two Brahmins. From this onwards, she has to offer rice in fire-ritual to the Fire Deity. She has to do this every day. Thus she has to please her parents-in-law, guests etc. She has to acquit herself creditably for being given total authority as the daughter-in-law of the house. She should earn good name for her parental home as well as the one into which she has come. She should be the companion, co-traveler and a co-walker along the path of dharma. The couple should perform their duties as householders and win the praise and esteem of all around. This ceremony of sthaaleepakam is the beginning of an opportunity to get good renown.
6. Sadasyam Assembly convened to get the blessings of the elders
In the assemblage, the bride and the groom together have to perform poojas to Vighneswara, the Dikpaalakas and Saraswati and offer them customary ministrations to get their blessings.
Usually this ceremony is taken up on the fourth day of the wedding, in the then prevalent five-day performance. The scholars and purohits around the area are invited and they all give their blessings to the newlyweds. This is so because every scholar or purohit may have a unique way and have different capacities to bless according to their accomplishments. On this occasion, in order to sustain the institution of Vedic learning, appropriate encouragement is given in the form of cash contribution to the institutions as well as scholars and pundits.
7. SeshahOma The concluding fire ritual
This is the last episode in the performance of ceremonies. In this fire ritual the deities Indra, Vaayu, Agni and Aditya are offered their portions and as per the palmistry-related characteristics of the bride unfriendly aspects are taken care of with necessary prayers.
agnE praayaschittE tvam dEvaanaam praaschittirasi
prapadyEyaasyaam patighnee tanooh
prajaaghnee pashughnee lakshmighnee jaaraghnee massyaitaam kruNomi.
O Agnidevaa, the one who would take the lapsed one to the right path! You are the one among the deities to make deities perform their karmas destroyed once. As a Brahmin, I seek your grace and patronage. Pray consider, my lord. I pray you to destroy any inauspicious characteristics this bride may have in her horoscope or deficiencies in her limbs or health.
In the same way prayers need to be offered to Vaayu, Surya and Brahma.
madhuscha, maadhavascha, shukrascha, suchischa,
nabhaschassEsha shorjascha sahascha
sahaschchya tapascha tapayachcha ssa tEyam dvishmO
yashchchaNo dvestita mEshaam jambhEdadhmah
May the presiding deities of all the twelve lunar months destroy those who hate us.
In the same way different deities who bless us with different things and materials have to be worshipped and given offerings through Agnideva.
apasyam tvaam manasaa chEkitaanam tapasO jaatam tapasOvibhootam
iha prajaami harayigam raraaNah prajaayasva prajayaa putrakaama
‘I have taken you as one who knows my opinion, as one born of tapas, and as one went about as a bhikshu, mendicant, while acquiring learning. Having a desire to beget children, you get children through me and bless me with wealth,’ says the wife to the husband.
Then the husband tells the wife:
apasyam tvaa manasaadheedhyaanagam swaayaam
tanoogum rutviyEnaadha maanaam upamaa
muchchaa yuvatirbhabhooyaa prajaayasva
prajayaa putra kaame
“With devotion to me as one who contemplates on me, with a desire to go with child at the proper time, I have understood you. Being youthful, you enjoy happiness with me and beget offspring”, says the husband to the wife.
With the remainder of the ghee after performing the hOma, the wife and the husband touching each other’s hearts, they chant:
samamjantu viswadEvaassamaapO hrudayaaninau
samaatarishvaa sandhaataa samudEshThri dideeshthinau
May all these - the deities of the universe, Waters, Wind, Brahma – fill our hearts with feelings of friendship! May Goddess Saraswati make us sweet-tongued!
With this and other chants the wife and husband pray devoutly AgnidEva, Prajaapati and Surya and other deities to unite their bodies and to bless them with offspring, longevity and affluence.
8. Naakabali (nagavalli) sacrificial offering to deities
This is the ceremony of offering sacrifices to the deities like Durga Devi on occasions like victory in the battlefield etc. After the bride reaches the husband’s home from the parental home, as a device to keep away the evil eye and such things, these sacrifices are made. But in modern days there are only prayers and a ceremony but no sacrifices of any kind.
The ceremony consists of placing four thirty-two small earthen containers and four big caskets on the four sides and all the three are tied with thread running it thrice round all the containers. In small containers separately salt, dal and rice are placed and lamps are lit and placed round all these. Thirty-three lamps in two plates are brought by two suhagans, auspicious women. The thirty-three signifies thirty-three crore deities. The bride and the groom go round the two women in perambulation. Some hold the opinion that thirty-two lumps of cooked rice should be kept there. Later the women are offered presentations and the threads are removed and the four directions are offered arghya, water. Then prayers are sent up to all deities.
Decorated with rangOlis with three different colours, lamps lit and bound with thread these earthen bowls, this is a symbolic representation of a fortress. The couple remove the threads and get in the fortress after offering sacrifices. This is called ‘prOlu’, pravEsham, entry. At this juncture the bride is presented a pure silk (paTTu) sari. There do not seem to be any chants to go with this. In some areas, this ceremony is not known.
9. DanDaaDimpu: After Nagavilli, as a token of victory the couple (in the olden times the little boy and the little girl) are held up by their parents. The two throw different colored powders on each other to the merriment of onlookers. But in modern marriages since the groom and bride are grown up, they throw these powders on each other in a festive mood to the joy of the onlookers. The powders are called ‘gulalu’, bukka and bargunDa
10 KuttuganTu – an ornament worn on the neck
This is an ornament worn ‘touching the neck’. This is string on which red and black beads are strung. This is called ‘neelalOhitam’ It is worshipped with kumkum and offered worship with an offering (naivEdya) of cooked rice and lentils. Later this is added to the bride’s mangalasootra. This has to be worn by the woman along as her husband is alive.
neelalohitE bhavatah krityaasaktirvajyatE
ye dhantE syaajnaatayah patirbandhEshu badhyatE
These are red and black. By the power of this, let no tribulations touch us. May our kith and kin grow! May my husband be bound to his friendships!
After this deeksha kankaNa on the wrists of both the groom and the bride are removed.
Mangalasootra, the black beads and toe-rings are all symbols of a married woman. She should keep these things on her as long as the husband is alive. These give her the status of a suhagan, auspicious woman. This would protect her proclaiming that she is married and as such miscreants are kept away. This is a tradition followed in our dharma and is respected by all generally.
11 kamma kadiyam
In a pitcher half filled with water, a gold ornament like a ring of the groom’s, and a silver ornaments like the bride’s toe-ring are dropped. From these for the first time, the groom should pick up the gold and the bride the silver piece. The second time the bride should pick up the gold one and the groom the silver one. When they pick for the third time, the one who picks up the gold one is believed to dominate the other. This is just a festivity to guess as to who would dominate, the bride or the groom in their married life.
dEvEndraaNee namastubhyam dEvEndra priyabhaamini
vivaaham bhagyamaarOgyam putrpautrascha dEhimE
Oh IndraaNee! The beloved of dEvEndra! Salutations to You! Grant me fortune in the form of wedding, good health and sons and grandsons!
12. Appagintalu : handing over ceremonies
The bride-giver, gives away the charge of the bride to the groom and his family.
ashthavarshaa bhavEt kanyaa putravatpaalitaa mayaa
idaaneem tava daasyaami datta snehEna palayaa
This kanya has been brought up by me as a son. Now I am giving her away to you. Treat her as a friend with friendliness.
Thus, the bride-giver dipping the bride’s hand in milk and transfers the responsibility of treating her with affection to the groom and the members of his family. When he says ‘Treat and protect her with friendliness’, tears eddy in the bride–giver’s eyes. This is a universal experience.
13. The new bride entering her –in laws’ home
After the ceremony of ‘appagintalu’, the bride’s waist is tied with ‘odikaTTu’, a new sari as a waist belt and once again the ‘entry’ ceremony is observed though briefly. The bride and the groom enter with the madhuparkas they have worn at the time of the sumuhurat. Later the groom’s sister takes the sari given as ‘odikaTTu’, waist band. Later the two have a change and get into their usual clothes. Then they bathe ceremonially and as per the custom of the house, Sri Satyanaranaswami pooja, vrata is performed.
14. peLLinaaTi pramaaNaalu: Vows at the wedding time
During the course of the performance of the wedding a number of vows are taken, many daanaas, charities are made. Some are made before the sacred fire and some along with the chanting of mantras. The bride and the groom make vows to deities, guests, parents. The rulers or deities of the directions ‘dikpaalakas’ etc. It appears that the ceremony is a ceremony of taking a number of vows. All these relate to the ways of their life, their behaviour in daily life and attitude to society and relations. They vow to obey social customs and family mores. All these help them lead a socially accepted and respected ways of life.
15. Vijnula vaidikaasheessulu: The scripture-laid down benediction of the knowing ones
abhivardhataam payasaabhiraasahtrEna vardhataam rayya
sahasrapOshasE maa kaastaamanapEkshitaa
May this bride flourish with crops and milch cattle, houses, lands, riches and affluence and may she contribute to all our progress! May the couple enjoying all plentifully, being rich and all-capable, live long without dependence on anybody!
putriNE maa kumaariNaa vishwamayurvashnutam
ubhaahiraNya pEshasaa veetihOtraakrutadvasoo
May this couple effulgent like the purest gold, thrive with sons and daughters, affluence, performing deeds good for all around our society and may they live long!
Thus beginning from snaataka vrata every ceremony is important. Wedding is a one time celebration in human lie for the individual. This a deed laid down by dharma. This ensures the welfare of the manes on both sides in securing higher states for them all.
May this system of wedding, which sustains mankind, be ever be alive shining brilliantly!
aanandO brahmEti vyajaanaat
sarvE janaah ssukhinObhavantu
Akshataas – the benedictory holy turmeric rice
Akshata is one without breaking, destruction; hence, strong and permanent. For this whole grains of rice need to be taken and stained the sacred yellow using turmeric.
When making obeisance while offering salutations, the venerable elders give benediction with the gesture of throwing these yellow rice on the heads of the young ones. These grains are first offered to the deity during worship and thus they attain unique sanctity. In all auspicious occasions like upanayana, vivaaha etc., and on all auspicious occasions, these blessings are given along with the throwing of these grains on the head. When a couple is seated on the planks for any performance, the parents bless hem with akshataas. This tradition of blessing has coming down several thousands of years among Hindus. The blessing is done with a pure manas, mind-heart. For each planet a particular grain is prescribed to be offered in worship. Rice is offered to the moon.
According to astrology the Moon is the planet controlling the manas of an individual. In the purushasookta, one of the most important of scriptural texts it is stated: chandramaa manasOjaataah.” Chandra had his origin in the manas of paramapurusha, the Absolute Supreme Being. It is said :’manO buddhih prsaadantu maatruchintacha chandramaah’ This is the pronouncement of the sacred seers. According to this, man’s manas, mind-heart, buddhi, intellect-discrimination, guNa, quality, mode or thought etc are caused by Chandra. In these the influence of the Moon, Chandra is very clear. Since these are of the moon, the charmed rice also has influence on manas. That is the reason why only rice is used as akshataas.
Kumkum, the red stained turmeric, is also a derivative of turmeric. Turmeric is an antiseptic and a destroyer of bacteria. It is a cure for certain dermatological problems. Most importantly these two, kumkum and pasupu, turmeric are symbols of auspiciousness. It is tradition to chant mantras suitable for the occasion, while giving the benediction. For children, the blessing is growth in education, learning and wisdom; for women long state of being auspicious, for a couple, mutual love and affection and good progeny. Appropriate blessings are given on different occasions to different persons who seek them with reverence to the elders. The effect of sound and touch are there on those who receive the blessings. For the newly weds these blessings given by the learned and venerable elders are of immense value. They are blessed to have good health, wealth and longevity. Akshataas are to be sprinkled on the heads of the persons with appropriate verbal blessings from very near. They should not be thrown from a distance, from a crowd, as is usually done in a hurry now days.
The benediction to the newly weds:
akhanDita, sarva vidha, sukha saubhaagya
satsantati aayuraarOgya aishwaryaabhi vruddhi rastu
May growth be to the undivided, all round comfort, well being, good progeny, good health and longevity of the couple!
lakshmee naaraayaNau, gaauree shankarau bhaaratee vidhee chhaayaasooryO rohiNeendu rakshEtam vadhoo varau
May the bride and the groom have the grace and protection of Lakhsmi-NaraayaNa; Gauree-Shankara and, as per tradition, of Chaayaa-Surya and Rohinee-Chandra.!
samasta sanmagaLaani bhavantu
May All Good and Auspicious Occurances Take Place
Om Tat Sat