Hindu Marriage - 04

Continued from Hindu Marriage - 03

Vivaaha Prakraana

1. Vara pooja: Worship to the Bride Groom

After the ceremony called snaataka, the groom’s party gets into the resort arranged for by them by the bride-giver (kanyadata), take rest for a while and get ready for the wedding performance. During this time, the kanyadata comes to the viDidi, the resort and worships the groom, who is supposed to be Lord Lakshiminarayana Himself on the occasion. The groom and his kith and kin are presented pairs of new clothes along with refreshments taken at that time of the day or night. The groom’s party is invited to the wedding venue. The groom’s party accepts the ministrations and goes to the venue. To begin with this is an occasion for both the parties to get acquainted with one another. During this time they exchange the auspicious messages, shubha lekhas, from both sides and they are read out.

2. Auspicious baths for the vara and and the vadhu; the groom and the bride.

After snaataka and varapooja the groom and party leave the viDidi and go to the venue or the bride’s house. There the vara and vadhu are given ceremonial, auspicious baths.

3. Gauri pooja

The bride performs pooja to Gauridevi and Her bracelet (rakshaabandhan) with the formal, ceremonial sixteen ministrations, shodasha upacharas. This is a prayer for auspiciousness and welfare. The kankaNa the thread bracelet is tied to the bride’s left wrist. This is believed to give protection against evil winds, dust and contaminations. The new bride seeks protection against all evil and the worship ensures her safety. This ceremony is also referred to as kankaNa pooja and kankaNa dhaarana, the worship and wearing of the thread bracelet.

4. Kanyaadaanam: giving away the bride

Among the sixteen mahaa danaas, most valuable offerings in goodwill/charity, giving away bride is the most meritorious, that which makes punya accrue. The bride can not be given away within a year of bereavement owing to the death of a parent. But if the bride is of proper age, the bride can be given away to earn extra-ordinary merit for the departed souls in the upper worlds.

Some people today ridicule the idea of giving away a bride as if it is a thing or piece of property to be given away as charity. But the ancient code considered the bride as the property of the father and giving her away without the father’s permission or consent was considered an offence. Kanyadaan is to accept the gift with the permission of the father. It is particularly appropriate in times where young women vie with their brothers and other men in all fields.

A female child right from her birth till her wedding is in the custody of her father; subsequently in the husband’s custody and loving protection. She has equal right for love and affection; for a married woman has equal rights with her husbands. Panigrahana, taking the hand literally, marriage, entitles her to several liberties. It is wrong to quote the line ‘na stree swaantantryamarhati’ out of context. It is not the idea to suggest that she does not deserve any independence. The sloka also lays down that no woman should be caused to shed a tear. The home where she experiences pain and sheds even a single tear is bound to go the dogs.

The word grihiNi, implies total right to her over the house she lives in. After the marriages is performed, the new bride is taken to the groom’s house and seated on the plank and once again pooja to Lord Ganesha is performed and once again the purificatory ritual is (punyaahavachana) performed. Then the groom performing pranaayaama sends up as a prayer, the intention of the marriage: ‘dharmaprajaa sampatyardhagam streeya mudvahe’ - to grow and prosper with a wealth of dharma and offspring, I wed this young woman’.

Rakshaabandhan, a thread bracelet for protection worn chanting a holy manta prescribed therefore. This protects the groom from all evil and ensures the protection of deities and growth of longevity.

Wearing the second sacred thread:

Up till now the groom wears only one thread as the yajnOpaveeta, sacred thread. In the context of crossing the threshold of grihasthashram, he wears the second one which empowers him to adhere to various holy deeds. In this context he takes a vow again to observe all the regulations to be followed by a householder.

Choice of bride, kanyaavaranam: One may ask at this stage that since the bride has already been chosen, as to why this ceremony again. Long ago, the practice for the bride and groom was not to see each other. Later, at the time of snaataka and varapooja, here is an opportunity for the two as well as the public to see the two together. In this ceremony the groom sends some pundits and householders to go about in search of a bride for him:

Groom: ‘madardham kanyaan vriNeedhvam’, search a bride for me

Elders: ‘vriNee mahe’, we would search.

Next, a prayer is sent up to the Sun and other deities to make the way safe for the elders. The elders then go to the bride’s household to make their intention known to the father of the bride and the other elders. Then the ancestries of the bride and the groom are read out along with their gOtra etc.

5. Gotra and pravaras:

Gotra is the vamsa, the ancestry: pravara is the group of the original rishis, the preceptors of the earliest parents. Pravara contains the list of the bride and groom’s grandfather, great grand fathers. The reading aloud of these lists on both sides is a way of remembering the manes and letting the audience know of their respective ancestries. This is a source of great satisfaction to both the parties as well as the large audience.

In the marriage pandal, those of the bride’s party sit facing east and the groom sits facing them and the west. Then a curtain is held separating the groom and the bride. The bride’s father sends up payers and presents the groom madhuparka, a mixture of milk, honey and curds along with new clothes as a mark of high respect. The groom is offered ministrations like arghya, paadya, water for washing hands and feet and water for drinking.

The bride is seated in a basket and brought to the dais by her maternal uncle, mama, mother’s brother. She is given betel leaves and a coconut to hold in hers palms. Three things are noteworthy here.

6. Explanation of certain customs

The maternal uncle brings the bride seated in a basket since her own mother had delivered her daughter in her parental house (which is their own) , while she was taken care of by her brothers, when she goes to her maternal home to deliver the baby. As such it is their privilege to carry their sister’s daughter to the dais. The bride is seated in a basket since in olden times there used to be early marriages when the brides were just about eight. But, today, it looks odd that twenty to twenty-five years old bride is seen brought thus. But this practice is continued even today to the merriment of the audience. The original idea is that the bride and the groom are invested with an aura and amsha, aspect of Lord SrimannarayaNa and His consort Devi Lakshmi. So, the two are brought in a nicely decorated basket with flower garlands draped on it to signify high auspiciousness. There would be paddy in the basket and things like a piece of sandalwood, a mark of reverence to the goddess Lakshmi. Usually along with kanyadaana, all the ten types of charities are to be made. Sometimes instead of the ten, symbolically a sweet pumpkin is given. The object of the curtain held between the groom and the bride is to enable them to look into each other’s eyes at the prescribed auspicious moment when the curtain was removed at a sign from the priest who performs/ conducts the rituals. The act of casting glances at each other, at this juncture, is called veekshaNa and sameekshaNa.

The holy Ganges is born of the auspicious feet of SrimahaavishNu. The groom’s feet have to be washed with holy water first and then only the bride is offered pouring water in the groom’s palms.

7. The mantras chanted at the time of kanyaadaana

aapah paadavanE janeedvishantham naashayantum mE
asmin kulE brahma varchasyasaani

May these waters which wash the feet destroy my enemies.

namosthvanantaaya sahasra moortayE
sahsrapaadaakshi shiroru baahavE
sahasra naamnE purushaaya shashvatE
sahaasra kOTee yougadhaariNenamah

Salutations to the everlasting, the one with a thousand (innumerable) forms, the one with a thousand heads, pairs of eyes, hands and feet. Salutations to the one with innumerable appellations, the one who carries millions of eons and yuga dharmas.

The groom’s feet are to be washed and the achamana is to be performed again.

mayi mahO mayi yashOmayeendriyam veeryam

The groom has to say this meaning: ‘May effulgence, fame, senses and sperm be sumptuous in me.’

Then taking a little water in an earthen bowl and with the following chant the water has to be ‘charmed’.

aamaagan yashasaa varchasaa sang shruja payasaa tEjasaacha
tam maapriyam prajaanaam kurvadhi patim pashoonaam

O Water! You kindly make me one with renown, giving me lots of milk yielding cows, effulgence, popularity among people and lots of cattle.

Then the groom has to take water into his palms and chant:

viraajO dOhOsi viraajO dOhamasheeya mama padyaaya viraaja

O Water! Anna, food, comes because of you. I am being sustained by anna. In the same way, sustain and protect my son who is in my place.

The groom after emptying the water in his joined palms would chant this as though pouring the water in the sea:

samudram vah prahiNOmi svaam yOni mapigachchata
achchidrah prajaya bhooyaasam maaparaasEchi matpayah

O Waters! I would send you to the seas. You join the place of your origin. May I, with your blessings, grow with unlimited progeny! May you be ever helpful and useful to me!

In this context, the bride’s father presents the groom new clothes and the young man accepts and wears them as madhuparkas. Later he chants:

traiyai vidyaayai yashOsi yashasO yasho si brahmAno deepti rasi
tam maa priyam prajaanaam kurvadhi patim pashoonaam

O Madhuparya! You are the one who give renown. You are the cause for the renown of the Vedas. You give effulgence the Vedas. So, kindly make me popular among people and master of unlimited riches of cattle.

Then he should chant another mantra cited later. After that he should take in water and eat the madhuparka, the mixture of milk, honey and curd and chant this:

yen madhunO madhavyam parama mannadyam veeryam
tEnaaham madhunO madhavyena paramENaa
nnaadyena veeryeNa paramOnaadO madhavyosaanee

This eatable in the form of anna with honey would give great strength and prowess. I would be a desirable person to all by eating that anna. Later he should take water twice in a aachamana and chant the mantra to charm a cow:

gauh gaurasya pahata paapmaapa paapmaanam
jahi mamachaa mushyacha

O Holy Cow! You are the one who absolves sin. So, you absolve the sins of the one who gives away his daughter to me as bride.

agnih praasnaatu prthama ssahivEda yadhaahavih
anashthamasmaakamkrunvaNnbraahmaNo brahmaNeybhyah

May the first among deities, the Brahmin among Brahmins, Agnihotra, eat havis etc (fire offerings) and may He keep a small portion of those and may he not make us lose anything. May He protect us!

yajno vardhataam yajnyasya vruddhi manuvruddhaa pachiti rasyapachitim
maakurva pachitOham manushyEshu bhooyasah

May the worship in the form of this yajna prosper! After the growth of its worship, O Cow! The right worshipful you, too, prosper and grow! May I become venerable after worshipping you!

gaurdhEnubhavyaa maataa rudraaNaam duhitaa vasu
naagam svassyaadityaana mamrutasya nabhih praNu
ochanchikitu shejanaayamaagaa manaagaa maditim vadhishTa

This highly deserving cow is mother to the rudraas, daughter of the Vasus, sister to adityaas, and the base for amrut, nectar or ambrosia. So, I tell the ignorant not to trouble or bother the holy cow which does not harm others and is flawless.

pibatoodakam trinaanyattu O musryujataa

May the cow graze peacefully and plentifully and drink water to its content. Let it be free.

This is an appeal to be kind and charitable to the cow. So saying, as a symbol of leaving the cow freely, a betel nut has to be thrown up. Later, as an offering for the forces of nature, the bride-giver shows rice to the groom and sends him in. Though the groom is supposed to eat it, in practice this is not observed.

The bride-giver after taking in water as aachamana should now intend (have the sankalpa) to give away the bride to the groom.

8. Mahaasankalpam : Declaring great intention

When the auspicious moment is fast approaching, the bride-giver should read the mahaasankalpa aloud. Sankalpa and mahaa sankalpa are different. Sankalpa is the expression of the intent of the day citing the year, month, solstice, season month and thithi, the day of the lunar day of the month along with the address of the place. The mahaasankalpa is uttered only at the time of the wedding.

Since the bride and the groom are considered to be deities, Lakshmi and NarayaNa, on that day and since they are going to get wedded in this extensive universe, citing the address, the mahaasankalpa has to be reeled off extensively.

This very lucidly describes the universe. The entire globe is described with the sixteen kings and the six emperors who ruled it, the many countries, holy rivers and sacred places of pilgrimage, the seven islands, the nine nations, and the nine continents, ten wild forests and the land with an extent of fifty crore yojanas and Bharata Varsha in Jamboo dweepa, which has an extent of a lakh yojanas. The bride giver names the place where the venue of the wedding is situated against this back drop.

In the same way, according to Brahma the creator’s time, the first fifty years being over, in the fifty-first year, in the first month, in the first daytime, while Brahma’s pranaayaama time is passing, in Swetavaraahakalpa among the nine kalpas, in the seventh manvantara among the fourteen, in Vyvaswata manvantara, in Shalivahana era in the twenty-eighth Mahaayuga, in Kaliyuga, in the specified year, month, day, in the muhurat fixed and decided, the bride giver is performing this ceremony. For the pleasure of SimannaarayaNa, the bride giver is giving away the bride, his daughter. He intends that he be given a place permanent in brahmalOka and that the merit of performing several kratus and yajnas like agnihotra yaga, vajapEyaaji homa and such other holy performances.

This mahaasankalpa indicates the smallness, insignificance rather, of man’s place in the universe. This intends to make him realize his own smallness and behave himself with humility. To win the grace of deities, he has to perform his duties with utmost devotion, with unflinching faith in the Supreme Being.


In this context, the bride-giver extols the qualities of the bride;

kanyaam kanaka sampannaam kanakaabharaNairytaam
dasyaami vishNavE tubhyam brahmalOka jageeshayaa
kanye mamaagrato bhooyaat kanyEmEdEvi paarshwayo
kanyemE sarvatO bhooyaatstvaddhaanaa mokshamaapnuyaam

I may get brahmalOka having offered to you, the form of VisNu, my daughter who is decked with gold and golden ornaments.

All those before and after me would get salvation by this offering of mine.

vishwambhara sarvabhootaassaakshinya sarvadEvatah
imaam kanyaam pradaasyaami pitrooNam taaraNaayavai
kanyaam saalankrutaam saadhveem suseelaaya sudheematE
prayatOhum pryachchaami dharmakaamaartha siddhayE

I am devoutly giving away this kanya for the uplift and salvation of the manes with the grace of SrimahaavisNu. I am offering this gold decked kanya of extraordinary virtue to You, the most effulgent and virtuous one, with utmost humility while thinking and offering obeisance to all deities and all my manes for the achievement and fulfillment of all the four objectives of life, the purushaarthaas.

After repeating the gotras and pravaras he chants this:

tubhyam prajaasahatwa karmabhyah prati paadayaami iti sahirnyam
kanyaahasta mudaka poorvam varahasthE dadyaat
saalankruta sahirNyodaka kanyaadaanam tubhyamaham sampradatE

For getting blessed with progeny, I give this bride you, says the bride-giver while the gold-decked hand is being placed in the groom’s, pouring out water.

devasya tvaa savituh prasavEsvinoOrbaahubhyam pooshNo
hastaabhyaam pratigruhNaami

Inspired by the deity Sun, with the arms of the Ashwini deities, and Suryadeva’s hands I receive you.

With chants like these, the groom should receive the bride. Later, as per custom, the bride-giver makes a cash offering, vara dakshiNa, to the groom.

Thereafter the bride-giver says the following about the groom:

dharmEcha, arthecha, kaamecha, tvayaishaa na ati charitavya

In all the three, dharma, kaama and artha, the holy law, desire and wealth, you should not transgress her. That is to say that the groom would obey and follow the holy law, dharma, in earning money, getting his desire fulfilled and would not violate the vows of marriage.

In reply to this, the groom says:

na ati charaami

I vow not to transgress her. He repeats this thrice to indicate in all the three, manasaa, vaachaa and karmaNaa, in thought, word and deed.

9. Sumuhurtam, the most auspicious moment

This is the moment chosen and fixed by astrologer/pundit for the performance of a ceremony or ritual. This is fixed keeping in view the horoscope qualities of the performer of the ritual and those of the bride and the groom. Every moment, the quality of that movement in relation to the welfare of the given persons, changes. The muhurat for the wedding of the bride and groom is in accordance with their fortunes dictated by the stars and the planets.

The bride and the groom are seated facing each other: the groom facing east and the bride west. To the accompaniment of auspicious music they are handed the pulp of jeera and gud, jaggery. To the chant of mantras, while auspicious women sing songs, at the predetermined muhurat they press the pulp on each other’s crown simultaneously. It is believed that this ceremony makes the duo mutually attractive. If there is time for the muhurat, the interim is to be utilized for auspicious chants and the choorNika, the composition in a specific literary genre chanted at the wedding ceremony of Lord Rama and Devi Sita.

The mantra chanted at the time of the sumuhurat: specifically auspicious moment:

dhruvantE raajaa varuNo dhruvam dEvO bruhaspatih
dhruvanta indraschchaagnischa raashtram dhaarayataam dhruvam
dhruvENa havishaa tasmai dEvaa adhibravan ayancha brahmaNspatih
dhruvaa dyaudhruvaa prithivee dhruvam viswa midam jagat
dhruvaah parvataayimE dhruvOraaja vishaamayah
ihaivaidhi maa vyadishtaah parvata iva vichaa chalih
indraivEha dhruvatsthishtha
iha raashTramudhaaraya abhi tishTha prutanyaTah
adhare santu shatravah
indra iva vruttrahaatishTha aapah kshetraaNi sanjayan
indrayeNa madeedharat
dhruvam dhruveNa havishaa
tasmai dEvaa adhibravan ayancha brahmaNaspatih

May the King Vruna and the deity Brihaspati give you the domain of Dhruva!.

May your raashtra be worn by Indra and Agni Dhruva!

In addition the deities bless thus;

He is Brushaspati, akaasha, bhoomi, the entire world, the mountains the fauna are all dhruva – certain. Prosper here itself without suffering any grief. Be stable like a mountain. You are above all others. May your enemies be subdued by you!

May you be stable and certain like Indra killing the enemies and enhancing water and fields! May this muhurat be the most auspicious for you!

10. The Significance of jeera-jaggery

The mixture of the two generates power and energy. The moment the two press the pulp on each other’s crown, when they look up into each other’s eyes they get electrified. The auspicious first sight generated love and eventual understanding. Scientists declared that a positive energy or charge is generated.

When the curtain held between the two is removed, they should concentrate on the middle of the brows of each other constantly. The groom should chant this mantra:

abhraatrughneem varuNaapatighneem bruhaspathE
indraa puttraghneem lakshmyantaa masyai savitassuva

As Lakshmi she may cause the growth of her brothers. She should cause the growth of her husband. I pray Indra and Varuna to bless her with male offspring.

aghOrachakshurapatighnEdhi shivaapatibhyah sumanaa suvarchaa
jeeva noordhEva kaamaasyOnaa shannObhava dvipadE sham chatushpadE

May this kanya be favourably and auspiciously disposed towards her husband and her brothers-in-law (from the husband’s family). May she have a clear and pious manas, heart-mind and blessed with deathless offspring! I pray that she be devout in worship to household deities and be kind and considerate to the relatives who visit them and to their cattle too.

11. Pouring water through the holes in the yoke:

After the sumuhurat, the bride and groom should sit side by side and declare their intent by uttering the sankalpa together. Later the groom should stand opposite to the bride and holding the sacred grass (darbha) with the thumb and the ring finger and wipe the middle of her eye brows with them and throw them away. This is symbolically wiping away any inauspicious or evil signs in her sight.

He should chant:

idamaham yaatvayi patighnya lakshmeestaam nirdishaami

I order that the evil be gone. If there were to be any inauspicious powers that might harm her husband, I am cleansing them away with this gesture.

Later, the groom keeps the ring made of the sacred grass. Opposite this ring (iNva), keeping the yoke from north to south, adjusting the holes on the yoke to be above the bride’s head, water has to be poured from the right hole to fall on the bride’s head. The groom then says: ‘May this bride, with Indra’s grace, shine effulgently with the radiance of the sun!’

There is an allusion behind this observance.

Long, long ago there was a virgin called Apaala. Apaala means pale like milk. She was suffering from leucoderma and for that reason she could not get a bride. She had a desire o perform a fire ritual to propitiate Indra but there was no she could since she was not married. But she had her desire. She was sad. Once, while she was bathing in the river, she was washed away by a flash flood. Being washed away in the flood, she found a creeper called Soma and she bit it. That the creeper the juice of which would accrue from a fire ritual. Since it the creeper while praying Indra. That pleased the deity. He made the waters rush through his chariot’s axle and the holes of the yoke and made that water flow on her. That cured her of her disease and she became effulgent like the sun.

Following this as a custom, marriages are performed. From the northern hole the mangala sootras, the sacred string, are inserted and water is poured in such a way that it falls on the bride’s head. While it flows down the following mantras are chanted.

khenasah khe radhah khe yugasya sacheepatE
aapaalaa mindantrih poortvyakara soorya varchasam

O Indra! Consort of Sachidevi! Just as you have graced Apaala using the axle and the yoke to pour water on her head, You grace this bride too and make her resplendent with the brilliance of the sun!

shamtE hiraNyagam samusham tvaapa sshantE
mEdheebhavatu sham yugasyatrudma
shanta aapasshata pavitraahavam tvadhaapatyaa tanvagam sagam srujasva

The groom desires that the body of the bride (over which the water from the yoke and the gold has flowed) to be worthy of his embrace.

It is worth noting here that there are considerable differences in the way this ceremony is followed in various groups. The Yajurvedis, adherents of Yajurveda, honour this but those who follow Rigveda do not. On the other hand they go round the groom and the bride with threads in their hands and the threads are used for bracelets of the bride and the groom.

12. Mangalasoothradhaarana, wearing the sacred thread:

The bride is presented a fresh unwashed, unworn, new and bordered cloth. This sari with madhuparka is worn as deekshaa vastra, ceremonial robe for the occasion. The following is chanted:

parivaa girvaNogira imaa bhavantu viswataha
vrudhdhaaya manu vruddhayO jushThaa bhavantu jushTayah

O Indra! You are one to be praised in words that are meant for applause and praise. As this robe clothes the bride, may our songs of praise surround You. May You the one who serves and speaks softly, be propitiated!

With the bride dressed up in madhuparka, in two large plates washed and dried rice mixed with flower petals should be placed and covered with blouse pieces. Above them the sacred thread with little golden discs hanging from them are placed along with dry coconuts. In another two plates little lamps are lit and brought by auspicious women the bride drawing up the rear and the bride is seated on the decorated dais. The groom is beside her. Twenty-four lamps, each plate holding eight each are symbols of the most auspicious IndraaNee Devi, who has the sixteen kinds of radiance, kaLalu.

A rope made of the sacred grass is called yOktram, which is tied to the bride’s waist. Later the bride and the groom worship with proper declaration of intent, yOktram and the sacred threads for the growth of renown, longevity and strength. Then the yOktram is tied to the bride’s waist by the groom. This is called patneevratOpanayanam. Assigning the responsibility through his wife for leading responsible lives together, the groom chants:

aashaasaanaa saumanasam prajaagam saubhaagyam tanoom
agnEranuvrataa bhootvaa sannahyessukrutaayakam

The bride prays Agni, the fire deity, for a good manas, mind-heart, well deserving progeny, affluence and pure body. “I tie this yOktram to her waist for the auspicious fire ritual called life’s yajna.”

After this the climax is reached with the wearing of the sacred thread. The groom ties this on the bride’s neck securing it with three knots. The pendent golden discs are made to the specification of weights according to the tradition of individual families. They are circulated for the approving touch of all the assembled and all touch them heartily. The three knots are symbolic representation of the three deities and the three TIMES. At that time the bride chants this:

maangalyam tantunaanEna mamajeevana hEtunaa
kanThe badhnaami subhagE tvam jeeva sharadaam shatham.

I tie this taali, maangalyam, the sacred thread, the basis for my happy and meaningful life, on your neck, for the accomplishment of good fortune. May you prosper for a hundred years.

TaaLi is a talisman or charm-like thing made of gold and through it a string is sent and the thing (usually, two of these are tied round the neck. The taaLi hangs like a necklace. The groom has to chant the mantra cited above. In ‘filmi’ marriages, the purohit chants it while the character does the thing. But it is not a real marriage. Many miss this. It is advisable for the elders to instruct the groom to tie this ‘charm’. This is the most important for the Hindu woman. This sootra, thread, signifies the most sacred bond of marriage. This custom has been coming down from thousands of generations. This signifies that that the woman is married. In the days long past, a palm leaf rolled into the shape of a pencil is tied round the neck. There is a conundrum, poDupukatha: inthintaaku, brahmanthaaku, peddalupeTTIna peranTaaku” the answer to which is this leaf, the symbol of the marital state.

This is one of the signs of being a sumangaLi, an auspicious woman along with the four other signs: pasupu, turmeric, red turmeric, kumkum, bangles, gaajulu, and toe rings, maTTelu. The one who wears these is a muttaiduva, being in the condition of wearing five, called aidOtanam. Of the two little gold discs, in some areas one is worn after being presented by the bride’s mother and is called talli boTTu. One is given by the groom’s elders and the other by the bride’s elders. These are symbolically to remind the young woman to be loyal to both the houses. The bride is expected to consider the sorrows of her husband her own and, that the life they lead together should be ideal leading to merit here, iham, and the life thereafter, param. She is expected to realize and remember that she is basis of all their wealth and progeny.

13. Talambraalu: turmeric smeared rice

The rice poured down on the head of the bride and the groom by each other towards the conclusion of the performance is just a festivity. The members of the assemblage egg on each to pour more and more rice like this. There is shehanai music played in the background. Apart from this, the chants uttered alongside are pregnant with meaning.

The groom pours a few drops of milk in the bride’s joined palms, dOsili, and the pours rice grain measuring it with dry coconut halves. Then he adds some drops of milk again. The purohit replicates this action to the groom. Later the bride and the groom keep their joined palms over the other and on top a kalash, small tumbler, filled with water. The purohit chants the mantras:

kapilaagam smaarayantu bahudEyam chaastu
puNyam vardhataam shantirastu pushTirastu
tushTirastu, vriddirastu, avignhamastu, aayushyamastu
aarogyamastu, swasti, shivam, karmaastu karma samrudhhirastu dampatyoh
sagrahE sanakshatrE saha somEna kriyetaam shanti rastu

The meaning is: ‘Think of and remember the Kapila cow. Give away in charity various things. Your puNya, merit, must grow. Let peace, strength, satiety and growth be with you. May all the impediments before you disappear. May you have longevity! May you have sacred comfort. Let good deeds grow. May your togetherness as wife and husband, daampatya, grow and prosper! May there be shantih, peace that surpasses understanding!’

manassatchitta maakootim vaachassatyam masee mahi
pashoonaagam roopa manyasya yashassreeh chEtaam mayi

May we two get the knowingness of the mind-heart, good intention, truth! In the same way may we enjoy the wealth of cattle and wealth of food and be renowned thereby!

yadhaahamasya atrupag streeyai pumaan
yadhaastree trupyati pugam si priyE priya Evem bhagasya
trupyaaNi yagjnasya kaamyah priyah

For me who likes yagna, let there be contentment with her and let there be contentment in her for me. For this may the deities support us with their grace giving us strength!

First the groom should pour the turmeric rice over the bride’s head.

prajaa mE kaama ssamrudhyataam

May I get in plenty the progeny I desire!

The second time, first the bride must repeat the action.

pashavOmE kaama ssamrudhyataam

May there be plenty of cattle and crops that I desire!

The third time, first the groom must repeat the action.

yajnOmE kaama ssamruddhyataam

May there be plenty of charity in me that I like!

Then the two should together repeat the action at the same time.

shriyOmE kaama ssamrudhyataam

yashOmE kaama samrudhyataam

May we get in plenty what we need in terms of crops and affluence! May I get plentifully fame that I desire!

There is another way too:

It is important that the two together send up prayers to the deities.

14. brahmamuDi- the knot of the sari end and the end of the upper cloth of the groom

The purohit ties this knot and it is also called kongumuDi. Hereafter the two have to go together: not alone. None should pass or come between the two.

After this the two may garland each other with flower and camphor garlands. Then they go seeking the blessings of all the elders.

15 Pradaana hOmam –fire ritual for giving away

For performing the prime fire ritual, the groom takes the bride near agnihotra, the sacred fire. If the lagna, that is sumhurat is in the morning, the performance is continued till this and the other things that follow it, like sthaaleepaka, Arundhati darshan, are done in the night. If the lagna is in the night, all the rituals can be performed in quick succession.

Some hold that paNigrahaNa is the prime thing in the wedding. It means holding the hand. There is a scriptural evidence for this. In a purana, an epic, Kacha takes out DEvayani from the well giving her his hand. She comes out and asks him to take her as his wife, for she has already given him her hand. Maharaj Janaka, offering Devi Sita to Rama says: ‘paaNim grihNeeshva paaNinaa’ For that reason paanigrahaNa has come to be a synonym for wedding or vivaaha. The groom taking her by the hand brings her to the Fire deity.

pooshaatvEto nayatu hasta grihyaashwinau
tvaa pravahataagam rathEna grihaan gachcha grihapatnee
yadhasO vashineetvam vidadha maavadaasi

O Bride! May Sun hold you by hand and take you to Fire God! May the Ashiwini Deities permit me you ride the chariot! You run the house to become the Lady of the House. Carry on your duties efficiently as a grihasta, householder.

As the beginning of setting-up house, the couple sitting before the fire, perform this ceremony called pradhana hOma. After this hOma, the groom holding the bride’sshoulders with his hands chants:

sOmah prathamo vividE gandharvo vivada uttarah
triteeYo agniShtE patisturee yastE manushyajaah

‘First the moon, then Gandharva and after him Agni had you. Later, as a man, marrying your husband, I have you.’

A kanya, a little girl, virgin, is protected by Chandra in childhood: the little girl would be very fascinating like the moon. After she grows a little more Gandharva protects her. That is time for studies and acquisition of skills in music etc. All these come by the grace of the Gandharva. After this, Agni protects her. That is the time when she is in an institution of learning. Agni gives her courage to defend herself from bad people. She is given eloquence too during that time. Then a man takes the responsibility saying:


What needs to be noted here that the kanya after birth is possessed by Chandra, Gandharva and Agni and after marriage is given way to the bride groom. That is why it is a ritual of giving away.

sOmOdadadgandharvaaya gandharvaadada dagnaye
rayincha putraagamschaa dadagni mahya madhO imam

This kanya immediately after birth is given away to Soma, Gandharva and Agni, one after another. Agni now is giving her way to me along with all wealth and offspring.

If the groom wants a female child, he should hold four fingers of the bride excluding either the thumb or the pointing finger. If he wants male progeny, he should hold her right hand thumb only. If nothing particular is desired, he should take her right hand into his without a wish or desire for a particular offspring. The he should chant:

gruhNaamitE suprajaastvaaya hastam mayaa patyaajaradashThiryadhaasah
bhagO aryamaa savitaa purandhirmahyam tvaa durgaarha patyaaya dEvaah

O Kanya! I, your husband, till you and I become old, I am taking you to obtain good offspring. The deities with extra-ordinary competence the deities Bhaga, Aaryama, And Savita are blessing me with you as my grihiNi.

tEhapoorvEjanaasO yatra poorvavahO hitaah
moordhanvaan yatra saubhravah poorvo dEvEbhya aata pat

Those three deities earlier married had been in the state of grihasta. Since the first of them is Surya, I take your hand into mine and accept you.

saraswati prEdamava subhagE vaajinee vati
taam tvaa vishvasya bhootasya pragaayaa mapyagratah

You are fortunate. You are one laudable, O Saraswati! We worship You first among the deities. Protect this marriage.

ya yEti pradishassarvaadishOnu pavamaanah
hiraNya hasta airamma ssatwaa manmanasam kruNOtu

May the deity of Vaayu, wind, Agni’s friend who always carries gold to give away to his devotees, make you have your manas, mind-heart, desirous of me!

16. Saptapadi: Walking the ceremonial seven steps

Having gone through the ceremony of paaNigrahaNa with the most elevated deity for purity, the Sun, the groom makes the bride walk with him to the north of the ritual fire, seven steps. This is called saptapadi. Elders say that friendship is a matter of walking together for seven steps. While walking the bride thus, the groom expresses seven of his desires. Then he expresses her feelings of friendship to her and obtains her friendship. This friendship thus established is to last several births for both the bride and the groom.

In this context the desires and expectations of the two are briefly stated. Without this walking the seven steps the wedding is not considered complete. This is the ultimate goal for the wedding. Only after this the gOtra of the bride becomes the groom’s gOtra.

EkamishE vishNustwaanEtu! dve oorjE vishNustwaanEtu
treeNi vrataaya vishNustwaanEtu chatvaari maayObhavaaya vishNustwaanEtu
panchapashubhyo vishNustwaanEtu shadrutubhyO vishNustwaanEtu
sapta saptabhyO hOtraabhyO vishNustwaanEtu

O young woman! You walk along with me. May VishNu give us with the first step plenty of food, with the second strength, with the third good deeds, with the fourth the comfort and joy of actions or deeds, with the fifth plenty of cattle wealth and with sixth the affluence of seasons and with the seventh the seven ritwiks: hota, prashastha, brhamaNachchansi, pOta, nEshtha, achchaavalaka, agneedra, who would grace your fire-rituals in different capacities. Then the groom makes the bride keep her right leg on a stone and adorns her toes with toe-rings. Later holding her hand, he says;

sakhaa saptapadaabhava sakhaayai saptapadaababhoova
sankhyantE gameyagam sakhyaaththE mayOshagam
sakhyanmE mayOshTha samayaava sankalpavahai
sampriyO rochishNoo sumanassyamaanau
ishamoodya mabhi samvasaanau sannau manaagimsisamvrataa
samuchittaanyaakaram saatva masyamooha mamooha
masmi saatvam dyOraham prithveetvagam
rEtOhagam rEtObhrutvam manOhamasmi vaaktvagam
saamaa hama smyakvtagam saamaamanu vrataabhava
pungse putraaya vetta vaishriyai putraaya vettava yEhi soonrutE

Having walked with you these seven steps, we would remain very good friends. I would get your friendship and love. From that friendship there would never be any separation for us. We would be together always heartily and with great love, affection and concern for each other. We would think together. In the same way we shall conduct ourselves in such a way that our external senses too act in unison.

Let us be always together like Rigveda and Sama Veda, like the earth and the sky. Let me be the earth and you the sky. I am the sperm and you are the one who takes it in. Let me be manas, mind-heart, and you the vaak, the articulate speech. You should bear me a worthy son. Please be always co-operative and come along with me.

Then the couple should perambulate round the fire and offer fourteen times hOma with ghee. These fourteen offerings reveal that after taking the permission of Soma who is the lord of the state of virginity, and after making the bride give up that vow of virginity, she should be allowed to fulfill her desire. For this reason these fourteen aahootees, offerings of ghee, are called prime ones. That is why this hOma is called a giving away hOma. Some of the mantras chanted during the hOma are:

sOmaaya janavidE swaahaa gandharavaaya jana vidE swaahaa
agnayE janavidE swaahaa

First to Chandra for obtaining the bride, then to the Gandharva, Viswaavasu, and then to Agni, I make these offerings

kanyalaa pitrubhyO yatee patilOkamava deekshaa madaastha

Completing her observance of virginity and marrying, the bride is going from parental home to her husband’s place.

prEtO munchaatinaamutassubaddhaamamu taskarat
yadhEya mindra meeDhva ssuputraa subhagaa satee

O Indra! Make the bride give up her intense desire for her parental house, and bless her with love her husband’s parents and her other in-laws, deserving sons, marital harmony and affluence.

agni rytu prathamO dEvataanaagam sO styai
prajaam munchatu mrutyu paashaat
tadayagam raajaa varuNonu manyataam
yadheyagg stree pautramagham narOdaat

May the first among the deities, Agni, make the progeny of this bride free from mrutyu, death. May He make her free from any grief coming from her sons! May VaruNa agree and approve of this action of Agni. May this woman be kept way from any grief relating to her progeny!

aprajasthaam pauttramrutyum paapmana mutavaagham
sheershssraja mivonmuchya dvishadbhyah prati munchaami paasham

I throw away, like the flowers in the hair bun thrown at the tree base, to my enemies all evil things like infertility, deaths of little children, and all sin.

With chants like these the groom performs the pradaana hOma. Afterwards, laaja hOmaas have to be performed.

17. Laaja hOma: fire ritual with puffed rice

Laaja is puffed rice. The bride’s brother makes her sister make this offering. The bride makes this offering for the longevity of her husband and her own auspicious state. Just before this the groom, keeps a stone to the north (of the fire) and making her touch with her foot, chants this:

aatishTE mamashmaana mashvEvatvag sthiraabhava
abhithishtha prutanyata sshahassva prutanaayatah

O Bride! You tread on this stone. May you be strong like his stone! You face those who aggress and put them to shame.

First laajahOma

iyamnaaryupabrootE kulpaanyava pantikaa
deerghaayurastumE patirjeevaatu sharadasshhatam

This bride while performing this hOma wishes for the longevity of her husband.

Then she should go round the fire in a perambulation.

tubhyamagrE paryavahasthooryaam vahatu naasaha
punah patibhyO jaayandaa agnE prajayaa saha

O Aginideva! This bride’s parents and others related to her first offered her to You! Now making her my wife now, let her bear my offspring!

punah patneemagniradaa daayushaasaha varchasaa
deerghaayurasyaayah patissay Etu sharadasshatam

May Agnideva bless the bride as per her husband’s wish with longevity and brilliance!

viswa vutatvayaa vayam dhaaraa vudanyaa
iva ati gaahE mahidvishah

O Agnideva! May we, with Your blessings, defeat enemies as bulls cross lashing rains!

The couple, once again, goes round the fire in perambulation. Making the bride tread the stone again, for the second time laaja hOma has to be performed.

Second laajahOma:

In olden times women used to worship AgnihOtra and with His grace used to be blessed with husbands of their choice. So the sun god has to be propitiated to see that he woman gives up her ‘attachment’ to the parental house in preference to her husband’s. Like the first the second too performed with the chant:

aryamanamsudEvam kanyaa agnimayakshata
sa imaamdEvO adhvarah prEtO munchaati
naamutassu baddhaa mamuta skarat

Third laaja hOma

tvamaryamaa bhavasi yatkaneenaam naama swadhaava
tssarvam bibarshi anjanti vrikshagam sudhitam
nagObhiryaddhampati samanasaa kruNOshi

O AgnidEvaa! Virgins, anna, food and swarga, heaven, are under Your control. Men get them withYour grace. You are the giver. Just as one waters carefully the plant to grow into a tree, people offer several things like ghee to you through fire. You kindly show Your grace on us, the newlyweds, giving us equitable and fair manas, mind-heart.

With this the hOma comes to a conclusion. Now the groom unties the knot of the yOktram, the rope made of sacred grass.

pratvaamunchaami varuNasyapaashaadvEna
tvaa badhnaatasavitaa suketaah dhaatuscha yOnau
sukrutasya lOkE syOnam tE sahapatyakarOmi
imam vishyaami varuNasyapaashamyama
badhneeta savitaa sushEvah dhhatuscha yOnau sukrutasya
lOkErishthaam tvaasahapatyaa kruNomi

The giver of all joy and bliss, the cause and inspiration for all life, VaruNadeva, bound you with a rope. By way of releasing you I am undoing the knot. So, we two shall continue our life’s journey which is the cause for merit, puNya and the consequent brahmalOka.

18. The chant called banDi mantra

uduttara maarOhantee vyasyantee prutanyatah
moordhaanaam patyuraarOha prajaayacha viraaDbhavah

O Woman! Boarding the cart, you being my most intimate and beloved, let us drive away all those who oppose us, shine effulgently as ones having progeny.

Here the cart is a chariot, the best of means of transport.

Continued to Hindu Marriage - 05 



More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

Top | Culture

Views: 3799      Comments: 4

Comment What nonsense? Before the groom marrying the bride, she belonged to soma,Gandharva and agni!! Which makes the bride becomes a wife for the fourth time in her life! How could people believe this and let the Guy chant those mantras? If the parents know the meaning how it will be or how the groom will feel after hearing it in his native language? Absolutely YUCK!

04-Feb-2020 00:17 AM

Comment very nice and simple interpretation of Hindu Marriage rituals .This will help greatly to understand inner meaning of mantras and their purposes .

Utpal Datta
01-Jan-2020 23:26 PM

Comment prem ji
the last bit is yet to come
that apart tradition has be revered and preserved
we can make a sincere effort leaving the rest to the Creator

v v b rama rao
18-May-2016 21:32 PM

Long article (in four segments) is educative, illuminating and exhaustive. It
concerns rituals, religious ceremonies and various festivities
on the occasion of Hindu marriage and Dr Rao has left
no aspect untouched. Many are just indifferent to what
goes on in the celebration of marriage and it is usually left
to pundits who guide and the rest is over. It is quite interesting and
makes a good reading and reveals many aspects an ordinary
man does not know. Perhaps, Dr Rao tells without being obvious
many things we ought to know.
Such traditions ingrained in Vedic Culture only teach how to make
life and society meaningful.
Thank you Dr Rao.

p c katoch

17-May-2016 07:58 AM

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