Vedic Hindu marriage is viewed as sacramental, which is a lifelong commitment of one wife and one husband. It is the strongest bond between a man and a woman, which takes place in the presence of their parents, relatives, and friends. This is an irrevocable commitment for a lifetime.
For a Hindu, marriage is the only way to continue the family, and thereby repay, his debt to his ancestors. The most important thing is that all the Hindu God and Goddesses are also united in this. Marriage is for spiritual growth and a way of learning many things in life through experience. In other words, it is a perfect way of following the holy law of the Creator.
Steps to follow for marriage ceremony
Vaag-daan, Tilak & Sagun (Engagement): It is a commitment by the bride's parents to complete the marriage of a future date acceptance by the parents of bridegroom. A teeka is then applied on groom's forehead and gifts are exchanged between groom & bride family members.
Ganesh, Navagrah Puja and 'Chura' Sait or Shantipath: Lord Ganesh is worshipped for success of the ceremony and nine planets for good household life of bride and bridegroom. They are explained the right way of leading a good household life. Chura is given by the brides' maternal uncle Mama as a blessing and well wishing for her married life. Offering Chunni to the bride to signify that from this time onwards she is the bearer of the respect of the groom's family.
Mandap Karan: Erecting pandaal where the ceremonies are to be performed.
Nandi Shradh: Offering prayers to the forefathers
Sehra and Badhu Grahaagaman: Groom's dressing with Sehra and Garland and proceeding to the bride's house.
Milani: A warm welcome and greeting of the groom's parents by bride's parents and other close family members with garlands and gifts mostly cash. Aarati offered to the groom.
Jaimala: Formal acceptance of each other by bride and bridegroom with garlands.
Madhupark: Reception of bridegroom by bride's father with yogurt and honey.
Sarva Dev Poojan: Lord Ganesh, nine planets, sixteen Matrikas, sixty-four Yoginies, seven ghee Matrikas are Varuna, Main Kalash, Sun and Kula Devatas are invited and worshipped. In their presence Kanyadan is performed.
Kanyadan (giving away of daugther): The parents of bride then place their daughter's right hand in the hand of the groom and her fathers declares to the assemblage that he, on this day and hour, of his own free will and that of the bride, hereby hands over his daughter to her the groom saying always follow the rules of religion. Groom promises to protect her.
Paanigrahan (Taking the hand of the bride): The bridegroom takes the hands of the bride for the prosperity in household life. He makes a commitment to the bride's parents that from here on he takes full responsibility of their daughter including, her protection.
I bridegroom hold your hand unto mine for life long commitment and for prosperity of household life. May you attain full age in all prosperity with me as your husband. God, who is the master of all prosperity, the administrator of justice, the creator of the universe and all subsisting and enlightened persons present here is giving you to me for the fulfillment of the household life's attainment and obligation.
Seven sentences are pronounced by both
Gathbandhan (Sacred Union of two souls): A knot in the sacred cloth of bride and bridegroom is tied and some rice may be kept in that knot by priest as a sign of prosperity and sacredness.
Aashirvaad (Mangalastak, Blessings): "May you stay together. May you never be separated. May you encompass all life (long life), always be happy in your own house playing with your children and grandchildren. O Lord! Make her endowed with worthy sons and prosperity, bestow on her all the good wishes so that she could bring up good children. May you be queen over your family. Mangalastak and blessing mantras are chanted at this time."
May Brahma, the Lord of wisdom, Shiva the Lord of all beings, Sun the Lord of all planets of the solar system, Shukra the Lord of Devatas, and Skanda the Lord of army, always bring good fortune.
"May Vishnu the Lord of Yagya, Yama the Lord of ancestors, Moon, the Lord of stars always bring auspiciousness."
"May Lord Hari who is on the lotus flower, Lord wind, fire, moon, sun, water, wealth, Pret and all planets cause the good things in life."
"Pradumna, Nal, Kuber, holy elephant, jewel and the Lord of power cause the good things in the life."
"May the three eyes of Shiva, and three feats of Lord fire, three feats of Lord Vishnu, that three Ramas, three Lokas bring good fortune."
"May the three ways of Ganga, three Vedas, three times prayer of Priests cause always good things in the life."
"May the Goddess of prosperity, Dhanwantari, holy mother cow, and Rambha always bless you."
"Horses of Gods, seven kinds of happiness, bow of the Lord, conch, poison, fourteen kinds of jewels brings good fortune."
"May Gauri, the Goddess of family lineage, Savitri, Shiva, Goddess of Knowledge and Truth Goddess Arundhati bring auspiciousness."
Homa: Establishing the fire and offering of Samagri into the fire, with the prayers to different power bearing Gods.
Laja Hom: (Baked rice grains into the fire) The brother of the bride gives handful of baked rice to the bride and the bride passes it to the groom. Then it is offered to the holy fire. This action is repeated three times. Signifying that she is leaving her parent's Gotra to join her husband's family.
Parikrama: Different system is used in different societies. Such as only three rounds bride leading to the groom, Only seven rounds bride leading to the groom, Four rounds first three bride leading to groom and last groom leading to the bride. However These days mostly seven Feras are used which includes Mangal fera and Saptpadi. First four rounds are dedicated for four aims of life i.e. Dharma (righteousness to follow the rules of religion, duty, morality and spirituality) Artha (wealth for livelihood, sharing with poor and misfortunate, to work hard and to earn money with right means) Kaam (love, physical and mental support and satisfaction, dedication between husband and wife throughout life Moksha (liberation from this world of suffering by abiding the law of household life).
However when all the main parts of the ceremony i.e. laja hom, shila-rohan (asmarohan), Gatha-gan, feras, 11 promises from the bridegroom & 9 promises from the bride and saptpadi are performed together then seven rounds are taken together.
May that all-controlling fire be the source of separating me from parental family for joining the husband's family. However it should not keep me separate from my husband. By the grace of God, may my husband attain a long life and the members of our families and relatives flourish in happiness and prosperity. O bridegroom! I drop these grains of roasted paddy into the fire for your prosperity and progress. May there be great affection between you and me for each other. May this fire of yagya be a source of help to us.
(Main part of the wedding ceremony) Saptpadi is the most important part of wedding, which follows the seven promises of Saptpadi with seven rounds around the nuptial fire. They move clockwise starting from the Dhruva (north polar star as a significance of firmness, like the pole star). Every round starts with the right foot first. The groom leads the bride for the first four rounds, the bride leads the groom the last three rounds signifying that she will always be in front of him in all actions. She shall always be respected as Grahalaxmi. The Priest chants certain hymns from scriptures. This system is called 'Bhavnar' and is the most common and well-known system.
As the Panigrahan ceremony marks the beginning of the formal section of the marriage rites, so the Saptpadi brings the most important section to a close.
Throughout the ages this particular act of bride and groom together walking seven steps around the ceremonial fire has been regarded as the symbolic moment when the couple is said to be married. It is, in fact, the completion of the seventh round of the Saptpadi that the Hindu marriage Act of 1955 recognizes as the moment at which the marriage transaction attains legal status. Manu, the great codifiers of Hindu law in ca. 300 AD states that after taking the hand of the bride and upon completion of the seventh step around the sacred fire the man and woman are legal couple. The Likhita Smriti, another ancient law-text provides that upon taking the seventh step, the bride leaves the Gotra of the family of her parents and becomes a member of her husband's family.
To confirm the new family membership of the couple, shortly after the Saptpadi ceremony, and after observing a few minor ceremonies such Sindoor Dan and Mangal Sutra, the couple departs for the groom's home.
The Saptpadi rite is performed around the ceremonial fire, which is maintained by a Priest. Seven circles of rice are drawn around the fire, starting from the 'Dhruva' (north pole star) side, north point and proceeding eastward. The groom takes the right hand of the bride and places it onto the first circle of rice. She follows through by bringing up her left foot, careful to proceed to the next step. The bride and groom pronounce the seven important mantras, which form the Saptpadi.
Groom: My beloved, our love became firm by your walking one round with me. you will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide for the welfare and happiness of you and our children.
Bride: This is my humble submission to you, that when you give me the responsibility of the home, food and taking care of the household activities, I promise you that I shall discharge all responsibilities for welfare of the all family members and children.
Groom: My beloved, now you have walked the second round with me, fill my heart with strength and courage, and together we shall protect eh household and children.
Bride: My Beloved, in you grief, I shall fill your heart with courage and strength. In your happiness, I shall rejoice, and I promise you that I will please you always with sweet words and take care of the family and children. In return you shall love me alone as your wife.
Groom: My beloved, now you have walked three rounds with me. By virtue of this, our wealth and prosperity is going to grow. You shall be the only woman to whom I shall love and respect as my wife. Together, we will educate our children and may they live long.
Bride: My beloved, I will love you with single-minded devotion as my husband. I will treat all other men as secondary. My devotion to you shall be of a chaste wife and you shall be my joy. This is my commitment to you.
Groom: My beloved, it is a great blessing that you have walked four steps with me. you have brought auspiciousness and sacredness into my life. May we be blessed with obedient and noble children, may they live long.
Bride: My beloved, I will decorate you from your feet to your head with lots of happiness of different flowers, garlands and ornaments and fragrance. I will please you in every way I can.
Groom: My beloved, now you have walked five rounds with me. I know wife is the best friend and well-wisher. You have enriched my life. May god bless you. May our loved ones live long and share in our prosperity.
Bride: My beloved, I share both in your joys and sorrows. Your love will make me trust and honor you. I will carry out your wishes.
Groom: My Graha-Lakshami, you have filled my heart with happiness by walking six steps with me. may you be filled with joy and peace for all time.
Bride: My Pati-Parameshwar in all acts of righteousness, in every form of enjoyment and divine acts, I promise you I shall participate and I shall always be with you.
Groom: My beloved, as you have walked the seven rounds with me, our love and friendship became eternal and eternal . we experienced spiritual union in God. Now you have become completely mine therefore I offer my life to you. Our marriage shall be forever and ever.
Bride: My beloved, as God and Holy Scriptures, I have become your spouse. Whatever promises we have, we have spoken in pure mind. We will be truthful to each other in all things. We will love and honor each other for ever and ever and ever.
Hridaya Sparsha: O lord! Dwelling in every heart, may our aim be identical, and our heart united. May our minds be one may our thought be identical may we attain the destiny of life together and may we live together in concord.
Sindur, Mangalsutra, Suhag: Symbolizing her as a married woman who will always wish for the long life of her husband and they say now onwards we understand that we are married.
"May you become like Ram & Sita, Vinita & Kashyap, Kunti & Pandu."
"Usha & Anirudha; Damayanti & Nal; Arundhati & VasisthaAnusuya & Atri; Renuka & Jamadagni; Rukmani & Sri Krishna."
"May you life be with an example of inspiration like Gandhari & Dhritarastra; Subhadra & Arjun; Ganga & Shantanu."
"May you live like Sudakshina & King Dilip; Devaki & Vasudev; Lopamudra and Agastya."
"May you become too holy and pure like Ahilya & Goutam; Dropadi & Pandavas; Tara & Bali."
"May you become like Revati & Balaram; Laxman & Saamba; Sita & Rama."
May there be peace in the heavenly region. May there be peace in the atmosphere. May peace reign on the Earth. May the water be soothing and plants be the source of peace to all. May all the enlightened persons bring peace to us. May the Vedas spread peace throughout the Universe. May all other objects give us peace and may peace even bring peace to all. May that peace come to us. Om Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!