Hindu marriage rituals and customs- a beginner’s guide

Do you feel intrigued by the rituals and customs of a Hindu marriage? Don’t you wonder at the complicated and long customs in an Indian wedding? Why does the newly- wed couple circle the holy fire seven times? Read this article to understand the significance of the rituals and customs of a typical Hindu marriage. 

Image result for images of Hindu weddings

Hindu marriage rituals 

Before we start, let us understand one thing. A Hindu marriage is not just a union of a man and a woman. It is all about bringing two different, unrelated families together. In the process, a Hindu marriage actually cements the Hindu society further. 

Having understood the above concept of a Hindu wedding, let us now move forward. 

Match fixing!

The first step in an Indian wedding is taken by the parents of the boy and the girl. The parents ask their relatives and friends to look out for a suitable partner for their adult child. The partner should come from the same varna (caste) and not belong to the same gotra.  This broadly means that the girl and the boy must not belong to the same extended family. This rule ensures that there are no genetic problems down the line. 

Aye!Aye!

Once a match is finalized, the family of the boy visits the girl’s family for a more formal agreement. Both the adults talk to each other in the presence of their families, and when everyone agrees, then a formal agreement is struck. So you see, both the two sets of parents, the bride and the groom have to agree to this marriage.

But there are other people who also decide about this wedding. And these are the uncles, aunties and other close relatives of the future couple. Neighbors and office colleagues also give their inputs about the boy or girl to the respective parents. So you see, Indian marriages are much more about parties and two adults deciding to live together. Indian marriages form the bedrock of the Indian society. 

In sync!

There is another precondition here. The family astrologers also check whether the pulse of the boy matches that of the girl.

Now you may be dumbstruck at this ritual.  I won’t blame you for that. Both parties want that the lives of their son and daughter are in sync. 

Of course, there are exceptions- a growing number of adults is opting for love marriages. But that number is minuscule. 

Settling upon a date!

Next step: a date has to be finalized. For this, the family astrologers of both the families look at the positions of the stars and the planets and then arrive at the auspicious date. 

Parents also decide the wedding dates by consulting their brothers and sisters. The idea is to make the wedding a community event. Indian weddings are sacred occasions as well as grand parties. For us, it is very important that kids must be around during the marriages. That is why the wedding organizers always check the exam dates of the kids in the family.

Shopping frenzy!

 Now that the date is set, the boy and the girl set about buying their wedding costumes.  Girls and their mothers go the markets and spend countless hours finding the perfect lehenga or sari. Weddings being special occasions, these market visits are elaborate events, sometimes stretching up to several days. 

Excitement all over!

As the wedding date nears, you can see a build up of excitement in the homes of the bride and the groom. Women gather in small numbers to sings wedding songs which are semi-religious in nature. There is a lot of craziness on these occasions. You can hear and see a lot of merriment in these small parties. 

Image result for images of Hindu weddings

During these weddings, at least in north India, the bridegroom is considered to be an avatar of Lord Rama. His future wife is the embodiment of Sita. In all the wedding songs, ladies wish the bride and his groom a happy and long married life. 

Different occasions call for different songs.

For example, when the boy and the girl are engaged, folks sing a special song called Lagan.

The day when the boy dons his ‘crown’, ladies croon Sehra. When he ascends his horse, then it is the turn of Ghudhchadhi songs.  When the groom reaches the marriage venue, then people sing another song. 

Image result for images of Hindu weddings
Image courtsey- Vangell’s Photography

Likewise, the girls’ relatives sing Mehendi/ Haldi songs the day when she is being decorated. As the wedding day comes closer, the ladies in her house bring out their secret songs and start their singing sessions!

Wedding day!

Today is the wedding day. The boy reaches the marriage venue with his baraat or marriage party. When he reaches the bride’s place, he fishes out his sword and touches the gate. This is a signal that he has come to this place unchallanged and nobody can stop him from marrying his beloved. 

The groom is welcomed at the venue by his father-in-law and other relatives. The former is escorted to a stage where he would be shortly joined by his wife. 

The wife comes to the stage accompanied by her friends. When she approaches her husband, she tries to garland him. But this is not a simple affair. Many people come very close to the stage to see this funny Hindu marriage custom.

Image result for images of Hindu weddings

The friends of the groom lift him up in the air so that she cannot garland him. She tries again but fails. One more try, and the groom bends his neck and finally she succeeds. Now is the turn of the groom to garland his wife. He does it quite simply. Another occasion for mirth and merriment. 

Till death doeth apart!

The next stage is the final wedding ceremony. The couple now sits near a holy fire. The priest now utters several Sanskrit hymns and calls gods and goddesses from the heavens to witness this marriage. The idea is to make this marriage rock solid. 

In India, marriages are sacred affairs. People are invited to weddings to act as witnesses. There is an immense responsibility on the couple to make the marriage work. Largely, in India, we don’t have the concept of divorce. But things are changing. 

Hindu marriage rituals and the holy fire

Meanwhile, our couple has begun circling the holy fire. It will walk around the fire 7 times; each step is a vow from one party to the other. These vows are exchanged in front of the holy fire. Flouting these is a sin. 

After circling this holy fire, the boy and the girl become husband and wife. The couple is now an important unit of the society. 

Little thieves !

But it ain’t over yet. 

When the husband gets up, he finds his shoes missing! This is not unsurprising! Young children from the girl’s side are prowling the venue and will steal the shoes of the groom. If he wants his shoes back, he must pay a handsome amount to the young rascals. 

Which he does!

You see, stealing of shoes is an important part of Hindu marriage rituals.?

Now, it is the time for the couple to retire to the girl’s in-law’s home. Here, a small competition takes place between the couple.  

A ring is dipped in a bowl of milk and whoever finds its first is rewarded suitably. Almost in all the cases, the girl finds the ring first; the boy lets his wife be the winner. 

Finally!

So, ladies and gentlemen, these are a few Hindu marriage rituals and customs observed by us. Our marriages are sacred occasions but also have a lot of fun element within them. 

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