A Hindu wedding is not just between two individuals but is a new relationship between two families. Marriage joins two individuals for life time with a vow that says ‘in all the actions related to four principles we will stick to each other throughout our lives’. The four principles (called ‘Purusharthas’) are 1. ‘Dharma’ – together leading a righteous life by following moral duties of individuals, 2. ‘Artha’ – acquiring basic possessions to lead a comfortable family life, 3. ‘Kama’ – fulfilling required desires which includes giving birth to children, and 4. Moksha – together leading a pious life in spiritual path and finally reaching state of liberation from worldly desires. It is a union of two individuals who become one in all aspects and lead life together. The vow is taken by the couple in front of Fire, because Fire is considered pure and is believed to be the best witness to send message to God that the marriage made in Heaven is being actually performed on Earth as a Vedic Ritual. While the prime witness of wedding is God Fire, the wedding is performed in the presence of all relatives and friends making them also witnesses. All the mantras of this ceremony are in Sanskrit, and the directions by Purohits are given in local languages. Hindu Wedding Process steps are explained in ‘Gruhya Sutra’ composed by sages like Paraskara, Boudhyana and Ashvalayana. The descriptions, mantras are given in Rigveda, Atharvana Veda and Yajurveda.
Hindu weddings are elaborate with several events spread across few days, in general, about five days. A very colourful and joyful celebration takes place in both bride’s and groom’s home. The wedding events and celebrations vary by region; in this article let us know the events of a South India Telugu wedding.
Wedding Preparation: Few days before the wedding, the house is painted with bright colours, the entrance door is decorated with flower arcades and mango leaves. The main threshold is decorated with turmeric paste and colour designs called ‘Rangoli’. Shopping takes few days to buy grand sarees and jewelry for the bride. The wedding card distribution is done as a ritual by itself; the parents of both sides personally visit respective relatives’ and friends’ home to invite them for the wedding.
- Engagement: There is an important pre-wedding ceremony called ‘Engagement’, in which both the families meet at the girl’s home. The wedding date and time are calculated, and wedding card scripts for both the families are written by the Pandits. Both the families exchange the wedding cards, clothes, and auspicious items such as Coconut, Betel leaves, Flowers, Fruits, Kumkum, Turmeric, and Arecanuts etc. The Bride-to-be and Groom-to-be exchange rings and wear new clothes and take blessings from all elders of both the families. Sweets are distributed to celebrate the occasion of wedding confirmation by both the families.
2. Musical Event (Sangeet): All relatives, friends, and well-wishers of both the families gather on a selected day at a common location, to celebrate the togetherness with songs, dance and grand gala food. This event brings the bride-to-be and groom-to-be, and both their families together removing any inhibitions, hesitations. The families become closer and get a feeling of close relationship. In some regions, Sangeet is celebrated only at bride-to-be’s house, but in most of the regions people are preferring to be a combined celebration.
3. Bridal Ceremony: On a selected day prior and closer to the actual wedding day (as per the birth stars) the boy and girl will be made bride and groom at respective houses. The elders apply oil on the head; smear them with turmeric paste that radiates a natural glow. They are given new clothes, applied by ‘Kalyana Tilak’ on forehead, given ‘Aarti’, and blessed by all elders. After this event, the bride and groom are not allowed to travel out of town, until the actual wedding ceremony.
4. Henna Event (Mehendi): Two days prior to the wedding, the bride and groom are decorated with Henna on both the hands and legs. All relatives are invited to participate in the event, the young girls, boys, married men and women also get the henna applied on their hands. People sing songs with musical instruments and enjoy the entire event.
5. Leaving Bachelorhood (Samavartanam and Snatakam): One day prior the wedding, the groom an auspicious event called Snatakam (‘Snatak’ means Bachelor) is held. Through this event the groom leaves the bachelorhood to take up ‘gruhastha’ life. Groom performs Lord Ganesh Puja and seeks blessings from all elders.
6. Kashi Yatra: At the groom’s home, after snatakam event, the groom takes permission of his parents to go to ‘Kashi’ (Varanasi). By holding an umbrella, a stick, a fan and by wearing wooden slippers, he sets for ‘Yatra’ (Travel) . At that moment, the bride’s brother comes and requests to marry his sister, by holding groom’s chin in hand, and by offering a piece of jaggery to eat. The groom agrees to marry the bride. The bride’s brother and groom exchange clothes and sweets.
Bride’s brother invites Groom and his family for the marriage and sets for the marriage hall. The following message from bride’s father will be passed on to the groom by the bride’s brother.
‘सालंकारं मम सुतां कन्यां दास्यामि ते द्विजः | पाणिं ग्रुहीत्वा साग्निस्त्वं गच्छ स्वागच्छ मद्गृहम् ||’
We will perform your wedding with our fully decorated daughter. Along with your wife, by holding her hand, you can worship Lord of Fire. We invite you to our home now for the wedding.