Hindu Wedding Customs
If you've never been to an Indian Wedding before, here's a quick guide to understanding Hindu Marriage Traditions, and a description of some of the events that you can look forward to during Kishneil and Kirti's big day!
Typically only occurring at the Bride’s Residence, the mehndi ceremony involves the decoration of Kirti’s hands and feet with intricately applied henna paste. The paste is typically applied 2-3 days before the wedding ceremony, and is left to cure overnight so as to develop a deep red color. It is a common belief that the darker a bride’s mehndi appears on her hands, the more she will be loved by her husband and mother-in-law.
The Haldi ceremony is a ritualized holy bath in which both Kirti and Kishneil are covered in turmeric, oil and water by married women, and close friends. The Haldi is believed to ward off evil spirits that could affect the couple during their wedding and promote purity and health. Its color symbolizes prosperity and beginnings, and endows the couple with a radiant glow for their wedding day.
Meaning music, the Sangeet night consists of an evening of musical entertainment and merriment hosted by the Tauh family. Kirti’s family will join together for a few days prior to the nuptials to sing songs about marriage and the wedding.
As part of the Tilak ceremony, vermillion (red colored powder) is applied to Kishneil’s forhead by male members of Kirti’s Family. This signifies the giving of permission by Kirti’s family, for Kishneil to wed her. Vermillion is considered a sign of auspiciousness, and is often accompanied by small symbolic gifts and sweets.
Wedding Day Traditions
Var Panke – The Arrival of the Baraat
The Arrival of the Groom’s party to the home of the Bride (or in our case, his arrival to the hall) is an important and fun filled event. Kishneil will be dressed in his wedding attire, seated atop a decorated horse, and accompanied by a nephew or younger cousin. Behind them his family members, relatives, and friends will dance in a large procession complete with music, drums and occasional fireworks. Kishneil is greeted by Kirti’s father and brothers, and each respective relation. This meeting often includes small competitions between the families, and is often a moment of fun. Kirti’s mother then will perform Aarti to bless Kish, and ward off evil spirits. This ceremony allows the wedding to take place with happiness and joy, and ensures that both the bride and groom are of sound mind, healthy body and good intentions.
Kishneil will then be led to the Mandap (marriage stage) with Kirti likely watching from a hidden window above.
Ganesh Pooja – The Warship of Lord Ganesh, the Elephant-headed God
The Ceremony begins with the Pandit (Priest) reciting a series of prayers in front of the sacrificial fire. He will request Lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles during the wedding ceremony itself, and bless both Kirti and Kishneil. Lord Ganesha represents peace, friendship and happiness.
These blessings also provide an atmosphere of tranquility and harmony over the ceremonies.
Kanya Aagman – The Arrival of the Bride
The Bridal Party is then invited to enter the hall and approach the Mandap. After the procession, Kirti’s parents will be seated on one side of the sacrificial fire, and Kishneil's parents on the opposite. Kirti will then enter, escorted by her younger brother.
This will be Kishneil’s first view of his soon-to-be wife.
Kalaash Pooja – Water Prayer
The Pandit now invokes the name of Lord Varuna, God of wind and water, to purify the ceremony and respect any gods witnessing the union.
A pitcher of water will be held up to signify power and divinity, and represent the faith of each devotee.
Deep Pooja – Sun Prayer
The Pandit will make a request to all gods and goddesses present to bless the couple with a happy and healthy married life.
He will also invoke the energy of the Sun within the sacrificial flame.
Var Mala – Exchanging of the Garlands
Kishneil and Kirti will now exchange floral garlands. The Garland symbolizes the varying characteristics and virtues of human life.
It signifies an acceptance of one another in mind, body and soul, and acts as a pledge to respect one another throughout their lives together.
Kanya Daan – Blessing of the Union
Kirti’s parents now bless the union. This is done by placing Kirti’s right hand into Kish’s.
The couple is then advised to remain strong and righteous and to always show respect and affection to one another’s families.
Granthi Bandhan – Tying of the Scarves
To symbolize the union between the two families, the Kishneil’s scarf is tied to the end of Kirti’s dress with nuts, coins, rice and flowers placed within the knot. These tokens are believed to represent fertility, prosperity, longevity and happiness. A thin hand woven cotton cord is also placed around the couple’s necks uniting them and protecting them.
The couple then offer prayers to the Lord of Fire (Agni) by placing Butter (Ghee), rice and flowers into the sacrificial fire.
Mangal Parikramaa – Steps Around the Holy Fire.
Kirti and Kishneil will now circle the holy fire 4 times to represent the 4 basic goals of a Hindu Life: The first round symbolizes Dharma, or the moral sense to lead a good life. The Second round symbolizes Artha, the attainment of wealth and prosperity. The Third Round represents Kama or Passion, Love, Family and Fertility. The Final step refers to Moksha, or liberation through self-realization and spirituality. In this step, Kirti will walk in front of the Kishneil to represent her devotion to their continuing journey. After each round, the couple will stop to touch their feet on a stone in their pathway. This stone represents the ability to overcome obstacles together. During their rounds, the couple will also encounter Kirti’s brothers. Her brothers will offer assurance and support, for both now and in the future.
Pratigna - Vows
Kishneil and Kirti will now take a series of vows to bind themselves to one another with promises of loyalty, love and fidelity.
This is done by walking around the fire and reciting their promises.
Saptapadi – The Seven Steps
Similar to Pratigna, Kishneil and Kirti will now make seven promises to one another represented in a series of princepal’d statements.
This is represented in 7 symbolic steps:
First Step: Let us walk together to provide for our household, stay in good health and carry out our duties and responsibilities towards our family.
Second Step – Let us walk together to gain physical, mental and spiritual power, and to remain firm and strong in all aspects of life.
Third Step – Let us walk together to share the joys, wealth and pain of our life. We will increase our prosperity through righteous and proper means, and with honesty and humility.
Fourth Step – Let us walk together to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony through mutual love, respect and trust.
Fifth Step – Let us walk together so we be blessed with a family of strong, healthy and virtuous children.
Sixth Step – Let us walk together so that we accomplish self-restraint and longevity.
Seventh Step – Let us walk together and vow to always be faithful and remain the truest of companions, through love and sacrifice.
Mangalsutra, Simangalee and Sindur – The Symbols of a Married Women
Kishneil will now give two symbols to Kirti to identify her as a married women. The first act will be to place red powder into the parting of her hair. This symbolizes his promise to always fulfill her wishes. She will reapply the powder every morning for the remainder of their marriage. The second act is to place a necklace made of black and gold beads around Kirti’s neck. This necklace represents the strengthening of their relationship, and is believed to protect the couple from evil.
Mangal Tilakam – Symbols of a Married Man
In reciprocation of Kish’s gifts and bestowment, Kirti will now apply tilak (red powder) onto Kish’s forehead, acknowledging her promise to honor and stand by him for the rest of their marriage.
Aashirwad – Blessings
The Pandit will now recite a number of Vedic mantras to offer blessings to the bride and groom. Kirti and Kishneil will seek the blessings of their parents, relatives and friends for a happily married life together.
Vidai – Departure
Kirti and Kishneil depart together, as her family sees her off. This event is typically very emotional with a mixture of sorrow and joy.
It represents Kirti leaving her childhood home and building a new life with Kishneil.