Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Wedding Rituals ( A Comprehensive Research)

The previous blog on my "Conversations with God" seems to have upset a few people. The irreverence of it all, is not going down well. My future-to-be-significant-other shot an email that (apart from other expletives) had a link to a web site, which has explanations on the rituals surrounding marriage. Having attended hundreds of weddings, most of it 2 days long, there is definetly a feeling of a void. Not in my stomach ofcourse I made sure the 2 days were always well spent. I never knew what was going on up there. You know.. they light a fire and say a lot of stuff and do a lot of stuff. Over time I have been thinking that knowing what goes on during a wedding and the meaning and purpose of such rituals and hymns might not be a bad idea. So this email prompted a research of my own. Note This blog is enormous & long. So you might wanna read this in installments or spend considerable time reading it at one go.

I was surprised to find this in the link I got. What it says is true.

Author's Note: This material is intended to be circulated in the Internet for the benefit of Young people (residing outside India and ) who may not have much knowledge of the wedding rituals and their significance in marital life. It might be worthwhile for young unmarried people to recall the meaning of the respective mantras so as to be fully involved with the rituals and derive the benefits of reciting these.

Before attempting to present the above, I have consulted authoritative books on the subject and people who are well versed in Sanskrit literature and Vedas. I shall appreciate suggestions to improve its contents.

The following is not only extracted from this specific author. Its the Megamix. I took a look at what the author SGV Ramanan and other authoritative sources have to say on the subject of marriage rituals. The following is a collection and collation of information I obtained from various sources.

The Hindu Marriage:

Most of the Hindu marriages conducted in India and elsewhere are both social and religious functions. There is no uniformity on their social side. These are based on local customs and traditions. On the religious side, with minor variations, they follow some specific rituals as indicated in the Vedas. Veda mantras or sacred hymns playing a key role in every step of the traditional Hindu marriage. The mantras for this ceremony come mostly from the Rks housed in the tenth mandala of the Rg Veda, where Suryaa, the daughter of the sun god, is given in marriage to a bridegroom by the name of Soma. These mantras are mostly from section 10.85. ( The wedding ceremony and the mantras chanted therein follow scrupulously the text of the Hymn 85, Mandala X, of the Rig Veda. The marriage ceremonies are called Vaidika ceremonies as they follow the Vedic Scripture. )

Many Divya Desams have references in their traditional histories (sthala puranams) to the Lord seeking the hand of Maha Lakshmi, who is raised by a maharishi after finding her as a parentless infant (ayonijaa). For instance, in Oppiliappan Koil, Markandeya Maharishi accedes to the request of Sriman Narayana who seeks the hand of his daughter Bhumi Devi. She was found as a child in the tulasi forest by the Maharishi. At Kumbakonam, Sarangapani weds Komalavalli, the daughter of Hema Maharishi. At Thiruvahindrapuram, Hemambujavalli, the daughter of another rishi, marries Devanathan in a Vedic ceremony. At Tirupati, Srinivasa marries Padmavati after seeking her hand from her father, Akasa Rajan. At Tiru Idavendai, the Lord got the name of Nitya Kalyaanar through his marriage of the 360 daughters of Kalava Rishi. He married them each one a day and made them all into one named Akhilavalli Nacciyar.

The most celebrated one is the wedding of Andal and Ranganatha. Ranganatha seeks the hand of Andal from her father Periyalvar and weds her in a ceremony at Srivilliputtur. Andal had previously dreamt about this marriage and recorded the wedding in detail in her Nacciyar Tirumozhi, Varanamayiram section, exactly as prescribed in the Vedic ceremony.

The following sections describes the steps of a Vedic wedding and their significance.

Nichyathartham/Pradhanam: The engagement / Exchange of Thamboolams: The engagement ceremony takes place once the horoscopes of the bride and the groom are matched. The couple's parents exchange 'thamboolams' or platters filled with betel leaves, betel nuts, fruits, flowers, 'kumkum' (vermilion) and 'pasupu' (turmeric) along with the 'lagna patrika' (marriage document). The 'lagna patrika' is read aloud by a 'pujari' (Purohit) to the elders, conveying the acceptance of the alliance between both families, and the date, time and venue for the wedding is finalized at this time.

Kalyana Rata: Fixing the first pole of the marriage 'pandaal'. An auspicious time is arrived at for fixing the first pole of the marriage 'pandaal' (canopy erected for the wedding rites).The 'kalyana rata' or pole is adorned with turmeric powder, mango leaves and 'rangoli' (coloured rice flour) designs. The 'pujari' performs a 'puja' by sprinkling turmeric, 'kumkum' powder, yellow rice and flowers amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras. The 'kalyana rata' is then fixed very firmly into the ground and an 'arathi' is performed. Prayers are offered so that the 'pandaal' should remain strong and firm throughout the ceremonies.

Nalugu with Mangala Vyadham: Ritualistic oil bath for the bride and groomFrom this day on the 'nadeswaram' (wind instrument similar to the clarinet, only larger) accompanied by a 'melam' (drum) is played for all the auspicious occasions till the wedding ceremony is completed.This is purely a ladies function, and takes place one or two days prior to the wedding. The bride and groom, in their respective homes, are anointed with oil by the elders, blessed and given an oil bath, after which they are dressed in silks and adorned with the 'Kalyana thilakam' (a mark made on the forehead with vermilion).Subsequent to this they are not allowed to move out of their homes until the wedding ceremonies are completed. The same evening, the ladies congregate once again and the 'sumangalis' (married ladies) pound turmeric. The bride gives 'thamboolams' consisting of bangles, 'kumkum', flowers and fruits to the ladies and they in turn bless the bride, wishing her a long and happy married life.

Marriage ceremonies last two days, one day prior to the Muhurtham day and the day on which the actual wedding ceremony according to Vedic rites is conducted.

Janavaasam: The day previous to the marriage, it is a customary practice to visit a nearby temple, offer prayers to the presiding deity and take the Bridegroom (hereafter referred to as BG) in a procession to the hall where the marriage is conducted. The Lagna Patrika, (a document indicating the details of the BG & Bride (hereafter referred to as B) and the timing and place of marriage, duly signed by the parents of BG & B, is read out and signed by the two sets of parents. This takes the character of a contractual document without stamp paper. Though this does not take the character of a legal document, it serves the purpose of a formal agreement binding on both the parties. In many cases, this formality is completed much before the marriage in the form of Nichiyathaartham, which is done to commit the parties to the marriage indicating a specific date for the marriage.

The next day ceremonies start with Kasi Yatra, Malai Maatral (exchange of garlands) and Oonjal (Jhoola). These have no religious significance as such. Secondly, these rituals vary from community to community, depending on the established custom and traditions.

The Kasi Yatra ritual which is peculiar to Brahmin community is the one when the father of B symbolically weans away the BG from the pursuits of Brahmacharyam, which is symbolically represented by his journey towards Kasi (Benares or Varanasi), the seat of Vedic culture and knowledge, and requests him to enter Grahasthasrama by marrying his daughter.

Note: This apparently counters the very ceremony conducted thereafter (Kanyavaranam), where the B's emissary is sent to seek the hand of an identified girl from a specific family. Even then, this is continued as essential part of a marriage. Probably, this incongruancy can be explained as follows. In the ancient period, it is the boys' side which took all the initiative and was searching for a suitable girl for the boy. This has reversed amongst the Brahmins now. It is the girls' parents who search for the boys and seek their alliance. In most other communities (example: Gounders family in Tamil Nadu), the ancient system still continues. I would appreciate, if any one who reads it can offer better and more authentic explanation for it.

Oonjal, is a ladies ceremony, where BG & B are made to sit in a swing and propitiation is done, to ward off the effect of "evil eyes" (bad peoples evil thoughts or curses) on the couple.

The real and important Vedic side of the ceremony starts only thereafter; the following paragraphs indicate briefly the meaning of some of the most important rituals and mantras recited at the time of the wedding ceremony. (No attempt has been made here to reproduce the mantras in original Sanskrit or Anglicised version, as it will only confuse readers who do not have knowledge of Sanskrit.)

The very first ritual is started with mantras soliciting the bride (Kanyavaranam)

Sequence of events following this are:

(1) Seeking the bride from an identified family through the emissary of Brahmins (Kanyaavaranam);
(2) Promise from the brides side to offer the girl in marriage (Vakthaanam);
(3) Invoking the Holy waters to purify and protect the girl from evil forces. (Here a water pot Kalasa) is established and waters of the sacred rivers and all the gods and goddesses including, Thrimurthis and Varuna, are invoked in it. The girl takes a symbolic bath with this Holy water (Kalasa Pooja);
(4) Worship of the divine power that causes sprouting (ankuraparna);
(5) Worship of ancestors (Nandi);
(6) BG receives directives from the teacher (Sama vardhanam - Kasi yatra);
(7) B escorted by bride's maid enters the hall and stands facing the BG;
(8) Meeting of the eyes (Sameekshanam);
(9) BG & B garlands each other (varmaalaa).

Note: The order in which 5 to 9 are performed has changed over a period of time and now Kasi Yatra and Maalai Matral are done before Oonjal.

vaak daanam: This step is a part of Kanya Varanam, where the groom-to-be (brahmachari) sends two elders on his behalf to the father of a girl whom he wishes to marry. The elders convey the message of the brahmachari and ask for the daughter's hand. The two mantras in the form of brahmachari's appeal to intercede on his behalf come from Rg 10.32.1 ("pra sugmantha...") and 10.85.23. The first mantra begs the elders to proceed and return quickly with success back from their mission on his behalf. The second mantram ("anruksharaa Rjava:...") asks for the gods' blessings for the elders' safe journey to the house of the father of the would-be-bride. The mantra prays to Aryama and Bhaga for a marriage full of harmony. The father accedes to the request of the elders and the resulting agreement for betrothal is known as vaak daanam

Kanyaadhaanam (Giving away the bride): Here, the brahmachari meets his prospective father-in-law. The latter seats him facing the eastern direction and washes the feet of the future son-in-law, considering him as Lord Vishnu Himself. All honors are given including the ceremonial washing of the feet of the groom by the father-in-law and offer of madhu parka (a mixture of yogurt, honey and ghee) to the accompaniment of selected Veda mantras

This is an important ritual wherein the girl is gifted away to the BG's family; B loses her family identity completely. Even the Gothram (family lineage/heritage) to which B belongs till marriage is changed to that of the boy. At that time, BG recites a mantra which says:

"Let the holy water which is poured on my feet safeguard me against all enemies and let me glow in splendour equal to the Brahma. He then takes a mixed liquid made of honey and curd (and sometimes ghee is added to this)."

vara prekshanam In this ritual, the bridegroom and the bride look at each other formally for the first time. The bridegroom worries about any dosas (defects) that the bride might have and prays to the gods Varuna, Brihaspati, Indra and Surya to remove every defect and to make her fit for harmonious and long marriage life blessed with progeny and happiness (mantra: Rg 10.85.44). The bride groom recites the mantra and wipes the eyebrows of the bride with a blade of darbha grass, as if he is chasing away all defects. The darbha grass is thrown behind the bride at the conclusion of this ceremony.

Then BG looks at B directly and prays to the gods (Devas) to protect B from all defects and deficiencies (in word, thought and deed) and recites mantras addressed to B by which he expects B to look beautiful, be loving to her husband and his family, be of good heart and do good things, be pious, protect the animals and the family of BG, and get good children. He then recites another mantra which removes (destroys) all bad qualities in her.

Placing Yoke on the Head of B:

B's father makes B to sit on his lap. BG places a rounded Dharbha(I) and on that places a small replica of a wooden yoke. This is expected to be witnessed by the sisters and mothers of both BG & B. When he places the right end of the yoke, he recites a mantra to indicate the following meaning. "As Apaalai was cleansed by you of all her sins and purified through the holes of a wheel, a rath(am), and a yoke, Oh, Lord Indra, cleanse this girl of all her illnesses and make her shine in splendour."

He then places gold coins on the holes of the yoke and pours Holy water in one of the holes reciting a mantra with this meaning:

"Let these gold coins bring you prosperity and happiness. Let the Holy water purify you and bring happiness to you. You can thereafter offer your body to your husband."

Mangala Snaanam:

Five Veda mantras are recited to sanctify the bride in preparation for the subsequent stages of the marriage. This aspect of the marriage is known as mangala snanam. The sun god (Surya), water god (Varuna), and other gods are invoked to purify the bride in preparation for a harmonious married life. Next, the bride wears the marriage clothes to the accompaniment of additional Veda mantras. The bridegroom then ties a darbha rope around the waist of the bride and leads her to the place, where the sacred fire is located for conducting the rest of the marriage ceremony. The bride and the groom sit on a new mat in front of the fire. The groom recites three mantras which invoke Soma, Gandharva and Agni to confer strength, beauty, and youth on the bride.

Thereafter, Bride is (symbolically) given a bath in Holy waters with 5 mantras which seek Gods blessings to give B purity, happiness, closeness and understanding with husband, and good company.

Koorai (Wedding) Saree:

The wedding saree is worn specially for the marriage ceremony. The type and colour of the saree depend upon family custom. It is usually in red (arakku) colour. It is given to B with a mantra by the priest. After B comes back wearing the saree, BG ties a rope made of Darbai around her waist with a mantra which says: "With a good heart and praying for good children, long life for the husband and good health, B is sitting near Agni. Tying this rope I take her to the sacred wedding ceremonies."

He, then, holds the right hand of B and takes her to a carpet spread near the Agni and recites mantras to indicate and acknowledge the boon given by Soman, Gandharvan and Agni in giving her strength, beauty, and youth to B for his enjoyment.

Mangalya Dhaaranam:

In South Indian Brahmin families, Mangalya Dhaaranam is considered to be the most important ceremony. Though there is no special mantra for this, the BG recites the following sloka:

Maangalyam thanthunaanaena mama jeevitha haethunaa /

kanttae bathnaami supahae sanjeeva sarasa satham:

The meaning is: "This yellow rope is managala suthram. This is a sacred thread. This will help my longevity. I tie this around your neck, O maiden having many auspicious attributes! May you live happily for a hundred years (with me). "

With this sloka, he ties the rope around B's neck and puts two knots in it. The third knot is usually made by Bride Groom's sister. The explanation of the three knots is common knowledge 1) First knot of relation ship 2) Second knot given the groom right over the bride and 3) third knot tells the world they are married.

The next two rituals namely Panigrahanam and Sapthapathi are very important for all Hindu marriages. Do not offer to shake hands or try and gift the newly weds at this point. They shall remain untouched until Sapthapathi is over:


After maangalya dhaaranam, the groom lowers his right palm and encloses it over the right hand of the bride. He covers all the five fingers of the right hand of the bride with his right palm through this act of paani grahanam. He recites mantras in praise of Bhaga, Aryama, Savita, Indra, Agni, Suryan, Vayu and Saraswati, while holding the bride's hand. He prays for long life, progeny, prosperity and harmony with the bride during their married life. The closed fingers of the right hand of the bride is said to represent her heart. The paani grahanam ritual symbolizes the bride surrendering her heart in the hands of the groom during the occasion of the marriage
The Groom lowers his right hand and catches Bride's right hand with all the fingers together. Four mantras are recited at that time, to convey the following:

1. I hold your hand to keep you with me to raise good children and till you become old. Devatas including Indra have offered you to me to become the Lady in charge of the house.
2. Sun God/Lord Agni, who have been powerful when they were having their "Grahasthasrama" has given you to me.
3. Oh, Goddess Saraswathi, you should protect us well. We will offer our oblations to you before all the creatures of this world.
4. Let the Vayu God who cleanseth and pervades all directions and corners, and who holds Gold in his hand and is the counterpart of Agni, unite you with me in mind and thought.

After this, Sapthapathi is performed. This is the most important of all Marriage rituals. The marriage is considered complete after this point.


During this ritual, the groom walks with the bride to the right side of the sacred fire. All along, he holds his wife's right hand in his right hand in the way in which he held her hand during the paani grahanam ceremony. He stops, bends down and holds the right toe of his wife with his right hand and helps her take seven steps around the fire. At the beginning of each step, he recites a Veda mantra to invoke the blessings of Maha Vishnu. Through these seven mantras, he asks Maha Vishnu to follow in the footsteps of his wife and bless her with food, strength, piety, progeny, wealth, comfort and health. At the conclusion of the seven steps, he addresses his wife with a moving statement from the Veds summarized below:

Dear Wife! By taking these seven steps, you have become my dearest friend. I pledge my unfailing loyalty to you. Let us stay together for the rest of our lives. Let us not separate from each other ever. Let us be of one mind in carrying out our responsibilities as householders (grihasthas). Let us love and cherish each other and enjoy nourishing food and good health. Let us discharge our prescribed Vedic duties to our elders, ancestors, rishis, creatures, and gods. Let our aspirations be united. I will be the Saaman and may you be the Rk (Saaman here refers to the music and Rk refers to the Vedic text that is being cast into music). Let me be the upper world and let you be the Bhumi or Mother Earth. I will be the Sukla or life force and may you be the bearer of that Sukla. Let me be the mind and let you be the speech. May you follow me to conceive children and gain worldly as well as spiritual wealth. May all auspiciousness come your way.

This series of Veda mantras starting with "sakhaa saptapadhaa bhava ..." and ending with "pumse putraaya ..." are rich with meaning and imagery.
This important step in detail is explained as follows.

The bridegroom(BG) gets up from the seat holding the right hand of the bride(B). He then goes round the Holy Fire (Agni) from the right side, by lifting the right feet of B step by step. This is done for seven steps. With each step, he recites a mantra addressed to B, with the following meaning.

"Let Lord Maha Vishnu follow each one of your steps for the following specific purposes.
Step 1: To give you unlimited food.
Step 2. To give you excellent health and energy.
Step 3. To make you perform your vrithas (rituals) as ordained in Vedas, during your life time.
Step 4. To give you happiness in life.
Step 5. To make your cows and good animals to grow in strength and in numbers.
Step 6. To make all the seasons be beneficial to you.
Step 7. To make the homams (sacrifices to be done in Holy Fire) to be performed by you in your life as ordained in Vedas, successful and free from hindrances."

Obviously, the idea behind this is to pray to Lord Vishnu, the protector of life, for his blessings in marital life.

BG then recites a mantra to convey the following meaning: (Alternative Summary of Sapthapathi)

"After crossing seven steps with me thus, you should become my friend. I too have become your friend now. I will never discord this friendship and you should not also do that. Let us be together always. Let us resolve to do things in life in the same manner and tread the same path. Let us lead a life by liking and loving each other, having good heart and thoughts, and enjoying the food and our strong points together. Let us have undivided opinions. We will perform the vrithas united. Let us have same and joint desires. I will be Sama (one of the vedas); you will be Rig (another Veda). Let me be the Heaven; you be the Earth. Let me be the Shukla (Moon) and you be its wearer. Let me be the mind and you its spokesman (Vak). With these qualities, you be my follower. You the sweet tongued, come to me to get good male children and wealth."

Note: These are pregnant with meaning and it would have a better effect, if the these mantras are explained to BG & B in advance; unfortunately it is not done now. In fact, both BG & B go through these rituals as a matter of routine. Even the visitors show least attention to the ceremonies that follow Mangalyadhaaranam.

pradhaana homam After sapta padi, the couple take their seat on the western side of the sacred fire and conduct pradhaana homam. During the conductance of this homam, the bride must place her right hand on her husband's body so that she gets the full benefit of the homam through symbolic participation. Sixteen mantras are recited to the accompaniment of pouring a spoon of clarified butter into the sacred fire at the end of recitation of each of the mantras. These mantras salute Soma, Gandharva, Agni, Indra, Vayu, the Aswini Devas, Savita, Brihaspati, Viswa Devas and Varuna for blessing the marriage and beseeches them to confer long wedded life, health, wealth, children and freedom from all kinds of worries.

One prayer -- the sixth mantra -- has a sense of humor and provides deep insight into human psychology. The text of this mantra is: "daSaasyam putraan dehi, patim ekaadaSam kRti". Here, the groom asks Indra to bless the couple with ten children and requests that he be blessed to become the eleventh child of his bride in his old age.

Ashmarohanam (Treading the Stone)/Stepping on the grinding stone :

After pradhaana homam, the husband holds the right toe of his wife and lifts her leg and places it on a flat granite grinding stone known as "ammi" in Tamil. The ammi stands at the right side of the sacred fire. The husband recites a Veda mantra when he places the right foot of his wife on the ammi:
May you stand on this firm stone. May you be rock-firm during your stay on this grinding stone. May you stand up to those who oppose you while you carry out your time-honored responsibilities as a wife sanctioned by the Vedas and tradition. May you develop tolerance to your enemies and put up a fair fight to defend your legitimate rights as the head of the household in a firm manner, equal to the steady strength of this grinding stone.


In this ritual, with a view to ensure long life to her husband, B offers puffed rice to Agni. The rice is poured into her hand by B's brother and with the recitation of mantras BG adds ghee to the rice and together they offer the rice to the Agni. BG goes round the Agni and once again keeps her right feet on the stone. This is done three times. The meaning of the mantras recited during the Lajahomam is summarised below:

B says: "May my husband live long for a hundred years and may all my relatives prosper."
BG says: "Oh, Agni, bless me, my wife and children, as you blessed Savitri and Soma. Oh, Agni, bless the couple with perfect mental accord. Oh, Agni, leaving her parents, my bride who is going to set up home with me, has performed all the ordained rites. Please bless us with safe travel through a path of life free from misfortunes. (Addressing B), May Heaven, wind, the Ashwins and all the divine forces protect you on all sides and the children you bring forth until they are old enough to take care of themselves."

BG then unties the Darbai rope from B's waist and promises a happy married life for her.

Grahapravesam (Establishing of the new household or entering BG's house):

Certain mantras are recited for the safe passage of BG & B up to BG's house to establish a new household. These have no significance in marriages conducted in marriage halls in cities. In most marriages, logistics do not permit BG to take bride to his house. The function is symbolically done in the room allotted to BG's family members. BG enters his house with B, carrying the Agni in a mud pot from the Homa Kunda(m) in the marriage hall. B places her right foot first while entering the allotted place.

BG then creates a homa kunda(m) on the north-east side and invokes Lord Agni in it. With B touching his shoulders through a Darbai, he then offer ghee in the Agni and recites certain mantras to convey the following:

"May the Lord creator grant us progeny.
May the Lord anoint us together for longevity.
The auspicious Lord has given you to me. Let us enter our home.
May you bring facility to all living beings.
May we both be together in our home and never be parted.
May we both attain long life."
B there after says:
"With full willingness, I enter this holy house having plenty of food and flowing ghee and resided by good minded and brave people with lot of good will and pure mind and thoughts."

praavisya homam
After griha pravesam, a fire ritual known as praavisya homam is performed by the couple to the accompaniment of thirteen Veda mantras from the Rg Veda. Jayaadi homam is also part of the praavisya homam. This homam offers the salutation of the newly married couple to Agni Deva and asks for strength and nourishment to discharge the duties of a grihasthas for the next one hundred years. After that, the bride shifts her position from the right side of her husband to his left side. At that time, once again, she recites a Veda mantra invoking the gods for blessings of children and wealth to perform the duties of a householder.
At the end of the above homam, a child is placed on the lap of the bride and she offers a fruit to the child, while reciting a prescribed Veda mantra. Yet another mantram asks the assembled guests to bless the bride and then retire to their own individual homes peacefully. During the first evening of the stay in her new home, the couple see the stars known as Dhruva (pole star) and Arundhati. The husband points out the pole star and prays for the strength and stability of the household thru a Veda mantra. Next, the husband points out the Arundhati star to his wife and describes to her the the story of Arundhati and her legendary chastity.

Placing a Child on Bride's Lap:

So far, B has been sitting to the right of BG. Now she shifts and sits to his left side. A male child from a family in which no death of a child has taken place, is made to sit on the lap of B. ( The idea is B should get such healthy male children.) The child is given fruits with a mantras which convey the following meaning:
"Oh fruits, as you cause growth in those who eat you, bless this girl with good progeny."
"Let the children so born bring love and affection."
Addressing B, the mantra says:

"Be aware of your duties to your husband and guests; propagate good deeds to all those you have contacts."
"Let this pure girl be blessed with happiness and prosperity."

Other Rituals B looks at the Pole Star and says:

"Oh, Pole Star (Dhruva Nakshatram), as you are fixed for ever, let me be similarly fixed in this home; Protect me from my enemies."

BG and B looks at the Arundathi* Star in the constellation of Great Bears and BG says:
"Keeping Arundathi* star in view, let my wife be like Arundathi and grow to be the eighth of the (model) pathnis."
(* Arundathi was the most sacred amongst the wives of the Saptha rishis and a model to be followed by all the married women.)

Wedding Vows
BG and B look at each other and feed each other with curd and fruits. BG says:
"My wife, with bonds of the food that we eat together, with the many hued threads of life, may we bind our minds and heart with the knot of truth."
BG and B touch each other's heart and both pray as follows:
B says: "May our hearts be in harmony with our mutual aims and resolutions. May our minds be in accord. United in mind, may we be pleased with each other's words. May the Lord of wisdom wholly unite us both."
BG says: "This, which is your heart, may it my heart and this, which is my heart, may it be your heart."
B says: "From that which makes the ocean holy, the air vital, all actions complete in cosmic order, may we derive harmonious thoughts and the power to realise them."

BG places kumkum in the middle portion of the hair at the top centre of the forehead and says:

"We are freed from all the bonds in our lives up to now, bonds which ordained by the Supreme Lord for our protection in our unmarried state. In this Universe of righteous order and righteous action, we have become each other's life partner."

Concluding the Agni worship,

BG says: "Oh Creator, cleanse us from all sins and confer on us what is auspicious."
Water is sprinkled around the Agni.

"Oh Lord Adithi, Anumathi, and Saraswathi, you gave us leave to do this worship. Oh Lord Creator, you bless us. Our Salutations to you Oh Supreme Lord."
BG and B fold hands in prayer and say:
"Oh Glorious Lord, lead us in the righteous path to enjoy the riches we earn. You know all our thoughts. Destroy the hidden tendencies that could lead us astray. We worship you with all our heart. with all the worshipful words, that we have at our command."

BG and B walk around the Agni three times and each time bow in reverence. Aseervath(am)-Blessings The priest and elders bless the couple with several mantras to convey the following:

"Let the mantras, the holy chants, uttered during this ceremony be true and bear fruit."
"Let this period of time when these two were married prove to be very auspicious period in their life. Let all the benefits that the celestial powers can confer be conferred on this couple."
"Let all the inauspicious planets confer benefits as if they are in auspicious position; let all the auspices planets yield manifold benefits."
"Let this couple who is setting up a household be blessed with long life, health, fame, vitality, material wealth, steadiness of purpose, fulfilment, blessedness, compassion, spiritual lustre, impeccable virtue and happiness and let this couple be ever engaged in celebration of happiness, ever filled with happiness and ever immersed in happiness."
"Let the people all over the world be free from illness and other distress, be followers of righteous conduct, be strong, be without jealousy and be compassionate."

Auspicious indeed is the bride. "Oh all of you assembled here come and see her. Bless her with all felicity before you all go to your respective homes."

When these mantras are uttered by the priests, every one present says "Thathaastu," meaning "So it be."

After these, Mangala Aarthi is performed by ladies; this concludes the vedic rituals concerning Hindu marriages.

Marriage Registration:

It is a practice now a days to get the wedding registered as per the provisions of the Hindu Law. Though the marriages conducted in the manner described above are conclusive evidence and are acceptable in a court of law, in most marriages registration is done as a matter of abundant precaution and to meet the requirements of law requiring proof of marriage.


The rich and meaningful ceremony of the Hindu marriage (Kalyana Mahotsavam of the temples) is thus carried out in concert with sacred Veda Mantras. The bride and bridegroom should enunciate clearly the Veda mantras and reflect on their meanings during the different stages of the marriage ceremony. This way, they can be sure of a long, happy and prosperous married life and play their appropriate role in society to the fullest extent. Srinivasa Kalyanam is performed in the temples to remind us of these hoary Vedic traditions behind a Hindu marriage.

lokA: samastA: sukhino bhavantu
sarva mangaLaani santu


Anonymous said...

To Quote Kounder again;-)

"Ellarum Kalyanathula Moonu Mudichu thaan Poduvaanga, Naan Unga Kazhuthula 100 Mudichu Pottrukkein da "


KS said...

I am truly astounded. Before I myself got married, I wanted to find the meaning of all the rituals. I did believe that they were there for a reason and thanks to you I know them at least now. What you say is true....all brides & grooms must be compulsarily instructed on the meaning of the principal mantras. In olden days people spoke sanskrit so they knew what they were asking for when they conducted these rituals. They knew the gravity & seriousness of beginning a life of togetherness, not just in sickness & health but with unity in thought & mind. Lofty ideals indeed & if only every young person married thus, knew the meaning of their vows they will atleast make an attempt to be true to the vows, creating greater harmony in the family & greater intimacy between themselves.
There is another ritual called the Garbhadaana Muhurtam, done before the so called 'first night'. It is interesting to note that in olden days the first night usually happened 3 months or so after the marriage proper. I beleieve that time was given for the couple to familiarise with each other before proceeding towrds further intimacy. I have heard this from various ppl in my family. Is it true? If true Imagine how much the ancient system then sympathised with the state of a bride who starts life in a new place with a completely new person!!! All rituals being most importantly rites of passage, 3 months or not, I think Garbadaana muhurtam is very important! Pls if you can find anything on it do post it.

A Very informative post!

Arun said...


Good one.

You may want to include this great website http://www.ahobilam.com/kalyan/

which explains the rituals pretty well. I did go thru the site before my marriage.It was useful.


Valli Doll said...

The Mangalyam Thanthunane mantram was said during the marriage of Sita to Sri Rama, by King Janaka. Since, the bridegroom is considered to be Maha Vishnu himself(jAmAtA vishnu rUpENa), at the time of marriage, the same mantram is said during the mAngalya dhAraNam.

Ganesh said...

Well explained ! And its nice that you have added that important Bold quotes asking people not to shake hands with B or BG until the panigrahana. Thought will just add on to ur infm. Thirumangalya dharanam was not a part of the practice until pretty recently (how recent im not sure). It was included alongwith the " metti " that women wear on their foot, as a mark of indication to the third person that 'she' is married, so hey dont let ur dreams run wild. From what many deekshitars say, this is something that has been included around a thousand years or so from now. Clearly a lot of people are mistaken to think that Mangalya dharanam is 'the' most important phase during a marriage ceremony. It is actually Pani-grahanam which is the official change of phase of the girl. In fact, thats why Rukmini in the letter that she sends through a brahmin to Krishna, requests him to kidnap her from her place, since 'ideally', that guy who lends a forward arm to receive that of a woman, becomes her husband. And hence since the mantras also acknowledge this, i think people can realise that it makes 200% sense to not shake hands ( for whatsoever reason ) during that time.

PS: no doubt a lot of marriages in our country end up in chaos!

Its quite an interesting observation i would like to state at this juncture. There has been no such community that has not been affected by this 'turn in tide towards the west' wrt marriage also. But theres one grp that seems totally unaffected, though being engaged amongst the thick of things - The Vadhyar families!! I mean, 7 out of 10 times when the vadhyar performs the ceremony, he is the only one saying the mantras. theres a fashion thats increasingly observed these days. " Neengale sollidungo rendu perukkum serndu " !! No wonder their family no matter what their economic situation is as tight bound and truly bonded. Every time the vadhyar says the mantras, whether or not it helps the B and BG, it surely seems to aid his family.

Long live classical divine tamil marriages!

Anonymous said...

3 mudichu meaning ? Plz tell me!?