In Indian society, marriage is not just a social custom. It is an institution, which teaches us lots of things about life. Wedding function is considered as the biggest event in one's lifetime, and to make this occasion a memorable one, people generally celebrate it in a grand manner. For a girl and a boy it is a transition from boyhood to manhood and girlhood to womanhood respectively. Marriage marks the beginning of a new life of the couple. Remember, in India, wedlock is not just about coming together of two individuals into oneness, but of two souls as one.
Hindu Wedding Day Rituals
In a Hindu marriage ceremony, the main day or the wedding day is characterized by performing a lot of rituals and customs. Though the ceremonies practiced in different regions are somewhat different, the basics of the ritual remain the same. The functions of the main day start with the reception of the baraat. Generally, in the Hindu custom, the groom, along with his parents, relatives and friends comes to the bride's place with a lot of fanfare and gusto. The parents of the bride receive the groom and the baraat at the entrance and perform a welcoming aarti.
After the welcoming aarti, the groom is made to stand at an elevated level while the bride enters the wedding place, along with her sisters and cousins. The two then stand facing each other, holding a wedding garland made of flowers. After the two exchange the garlands, the bride and the groom are taken to the mandap where the other rituals and rites are performed. Mandap is usually in the form of a canopy and is beautifully decorated with flowers, colorful personal adornment, and other items.
In the mandap, the bride, the groom the parents of the bride and the priest sit, while the rest of the family members sit around the canopy. All the rituals and customs of the wedding are performed in the mandap. One of the most significant rituals is the saptapadi or seven steps taken by the bride and the bridegroom together. A sacred fire is lit and the two circle around the fire, while the priest recites mantras and speaks of the real essence or spirit of marriage. Generally, it is here that the couple promises the seven vows by taking seven steps before God, symbolized by fire and light.
Another important ceremony performed in the mandap is the ritual of putting vermillion or sindoor onto the bride's head. In this, the groom fills the bride's center parting of the hair with sindoor, one of the sacred symbols of marriage. Then, the ritual of tying mangalsutra is performed. It is here that the groom ties the mangalsutra around the neck of the bride, while the priest recites Vedic hymns and prays. This black beaded sacred thread signifies the union of the bride and the groom. These are some of the important rituals and customs that are performed as a part of the main day function throughout India, irrespective of region differences.
Today, Hindu weddings are celebrated on a large canvas. People are mostly influenced by the lavish portrayal of wedding ceremonies in Hindi movies. The Indian wedding normally is a four to five days affair and each day has a special significance and role. Just like the pre wedding functions such as sangeet, mehendi and engagement are celebrated in a grand manner, so is the main day wedding.
Indian wedding ceremonies today are a lavish affair, characterized with great pomp and gaiety, thanks to the infliction of commercialization. Right from lavish and stupendous Decor to sumptuous feasts and extravagant outfits and jewelry, weddings have become resplendent celebrations. However, the main essence of the festival, that is, the rituals and customs performed have managed to remain intact.