Pandit (Hindu Priest): Prabha Duneja
In the Vedic tradition, marriage is a spiritual partnership between two people that helps them live an honorable life of nobility, virtue, and dharma. Moreover, marriage is not just a union of the bride and groom; it is the beginning of a very strong bond between two families for many generations.
The traditional Vedic ceremony is performed in a series of rituals conducted by a learned priest with the chanting of hymns from the Vedas. The wedding rituals are performed around a ceremonial fire (Agni), which represents the Divine as a witness to the ceremony.
Elements of the Ceremony
• Swagatam: The groom is warmly received by the bride’s mother and is led to the mandap, or ceremonial stage, for the wedding ceremony.
• Sri Ganesh Puja: Worship is performed in order to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha. It is believed that Lord Ganesha removes all possible obstacles and brings peace and harmony to the wedding and married life thereafter.
• Madhuparka: The bride’s parents offer a mixture of yogurt and honey to the groom, which is considered to be very refreshing and auspicious. The groom prays for sweetness, love, and good health in married life.
• Jaimala: The bride, escorted by her sisters, enters the ceremonial mandap. The bride and groom greet each other and exchange garlands, which symbolizes that they are accepting each other voluntarily and are ready to perform the marriage rituals.
• Kanyadaan: As the ceremony begins, the priest recites eight hymns from the Vedas to invoke the blessings of various deities. In the kanyadaan, the bride’s parents entrust the groom with their daughter, forming a lifelong union.
• Yagna: The yagna starts by lighting the sacred ceremonial fire. The priest recites Vedic hymns while the bride and groom make offerings with ghee. Special offerings are made to the nine cosmic bodies in order to seek peace and harmony in nature.
• Gathbandhan (Tying the Knot): The mothers of the bride and groom tie the groom’s dupatta (scarf) to the bride’s dupatta, symbolizing the couple’s union and commitment.
• Shila-Arohan: The groom requests the bride (assisted by her brother) to place her foot on a rock and be firm in her vows. He prays for God to bless her with stability, integrity, and steadfastness in married life.
• Mangal Phera: The bride and groom walk together four times around the holy fire. At each round, the bride prays to Lord Agni (Fire) for a pleasant, enjoyable, permanent married life. She prays for a long life for her husband and accepts her responsibilities in married life. Each round represents the Vedic scheme of life, which is expressed by the highly cherished four-fold formula of dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama(pleasure), and moksha (liberation).
• Pani Grahan (Joining of the Hands): The groom holds the bride’s hands and they both promise unconditional love, respect, devotion, and togetherness throughout their lives. The vows they take are for peace, happiness, harmony, mutual understanding, raising good children, and creating an ideal family life.
• Saptapadi (The Seven Steps): The groom holds the bride with his right hand and they walk together seeking the blessings of Lord Vishnu (the Sustainer) and his consort Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity). With each step, the groom seeks a different blessing:
▪ The 1st step, to seek the blessings of Isha, the goddess of nourishing food.
▪ The 2nd step, for good health, strength, and emotional stability.
▪ The 3rd step, for wealth and prosperity earned by righteous means.
▪ The 4th step, for all the comforts of married life together.
▪ The 5th step, to be blessed with noble children and grandchildren.
▪ The 6th step, to be blessed with all the seasonal needs of life
▪ The 7th step, for mutual love, faith, respect, loyalty, and eternal unity in married life.
• Dhruva Darshan: Facing east, the bride and groom pray to the Sun god for a long, healthy life together. The groom asks the bride to look at the pole star and pray for love, devotion, integrity, and stability in married life.
• Shapath-Ashwasan: The bride and groom place their right hands on the other’s heart and ask for love and honor in marriage.
• Sindhoor Daan: The groom puts sindhoor (red powder) in the parting of the bride’s hair and welcomes her into his life as his eternal partner. Seven married women assist the groom and are asked to bless the new bride.
• Aashirwad (Blessings): While the priest recites auspicious blessings from the holy scriptures, parents, relatives and friends bless the newlyweds with saffron-colored rice and wish them an eternal union of peace, happiness, prosperity, and the joy of children and grandchildren.
All You Need for the Marriage Ceremony
1) 9 types of uncooked grains (2 tbsp. each): white sesame seeds, green moong whole, black urad whole, urad, yellow split chana daal, rice, red split masoor daal, red kidney beans, black whole chana, black sesame seeds.
2) Fresh coconut -- 2
3) Ghee -- 2 cups
4) Mauli (kalava / red thread / narachari) -- 1 small roll
5) Rice -- 1/2 cup
6) Small steel bowls (katori) for Akhand Jot (Holy Flame) and Aarti -- 3
7) Camphor -- few cubes
8) Steel glasses and steel trays (thali) – 2 each
9) Small pitcher (lota), if available – 1
10) Aluminum baking tray to be used under the Havan Kunda (use the one to serve the food) – 1
11) Small roll of aluminum foil – 1
12) Saffron – 1 pinch
13) Cotton batti for Jot (Holy Flame; cotton balls will work as well) – 6-9
14) Kumkum (sindhoor)
15) Puffed rice (murmura) for Lajahoma – 1 lb.
16) Small piece of rock (about 6 inches in radius) for Shila-arohan – 1
17) Betel nuts (supaari) – 5
18) Betel (paan) leaves – 5
19) Dupatta (chunni) for gathbandhan – 1
20) Jaimala (flower garlands) – 2
21) Match box
22) Fresh flower petals for blessings – 1 basket
23) Yellow-colored rice (use saffron / yellow color) for blessings – 1 cup
24) Yogurt mixed with 1 tsp. of honey for Madhuparka – ½ cup
25) Sweets (mithai) for puja offerings – 1 box
Please call Mrs. Prabha Duneja at (925) 484-5411 (Fax: 925-417-5946; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) with your questions.