The Beautiful Traditions of an Indian Wedding
In a traditional Hindu wedding, a structure called the mandap is the centerpiece of any wedding ceremony. This special kind of altar is basically a small dais that according to our bride + groom’s priest, needs to be 8' by 8' minimum and 10' by 10' ideally — with pillars at the corners and a covering draped over the top. The floor is usually covered with fabric, and there are special seats on which the participants (bride, groom, priest, other family members) sit. The frame tends to be adorned with fabric and/or lots of flowers, but it seems like there’s a wide variance in mandap design. When we worked on designing the look of the ceremony mandap, we really wanted to allow the natural beauty of Arrow Park’s garden to shine through, especially sing spring had finally sprung! Working closely with the talented Stephanie from Earth Blossoms, she created a dreamy, natural ceremonial piece that had fun pops of color but still allowed the beautiful Indian saris and fabric shine through!
The Hindu wedding traditions are based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of the Hindus, dating back over 4,000 years. The hymns, composed in Sanskrit, spiritually unite the bride and groom and their souls (talk about being soulmates)! There are so many beautiful and meaningful traditions found in a Hindu Indian wedding. Each unique moment during the ceremony ultimately represents what we all want in a partnership and marriage, love, harmony, passion, growth, and togetherness.
Welcoming the Groom (Baran): The groom arrives and is greeted by the bride’s family. The bride’s mother welcomes the groom and escorts to the mandap.
Bride’s Arrival & Circling of Groom (Badhu Prabesh & Sat Pake Ghora): The bride is escorted in while the groom is shielded from seeing her with betel leaves. She circles the groom seven times, initiating the auspicious binding of the couple.
The First Viewing and Exchange of Garlands (Subho Dristi & Mala Badal): The bride and groom look upon each other as if for the first time. They exchange garlands three times, a symbolic representation of the divine union of vision and harmony.
Entrusting of the Daughter (Kanyadaan): The priest worships Lord Ganesha (the destroyer of obstacles), Kalasha (symbolizing the universe), and Nabagraha (nine planets of good fortune) to establish peaceful surrounding and to pray for courage, peace of mind and inner strength for the bride and groom.
Tying of the Knot (Granthi Bandhan): The bride and groom’s clothes are tied together, symbolizing their union in the physical world and their indissoluble union in marriage (love this)!
Fire as Divine Witness (Homa, Agni Sakshi & Agni Pradakshina-Mangal Phera): The couple walks encircling fire four times, symbolizing the human needs of Dharma (righteousness), Artha (prosperity), Kaama (love and passion) and Moksha (liberation of the soul). The bride and groom offer puffed rice to Agni (the god of fire) to witness the marriage ceremony. The fire serves as witness by providing light and energy, and represents wisdom and strength. The groom holds the right hands of the bride, accepting her as his lawful wedded wife.
Taking Seven Steps Together (Saptapadi): The bride and groom take seven steps and seven vows. 1) May this step lead us to happiness 2) May this step lead us to growth 3) May this step lead us to holy resolutions 4) May this step lead us to joy 5) May this step lead us to have concern for the welfare of all living beings 6) May this step lead us to prosperity 7) May this step lead us to do well, whatever has to be done
Marriage Vows (Hriday Sparsha Mantra): The bride and groom take their vows while touching each other’s hearts with right hands, standing facing each other.
In Praise of Love (Kamastuti): The priest blesses the couple: Love is that, that give to itself. Love is the giver and love is the receiver. Love entered the ocean of being and become creation. Thus love was the cause for this creation. So, in the name of love, accept each other and what you will be become together.
A New Dawn (Sindoor Dan): The groom places red sindoor in the parting of the bride’s hair. The red color represents the dawn’s redness as the couple begins their first day of a lifetime together.
Establishment of a New Household (Grihaprabesh): The bride and groom feed each other sweets blessed during the ceremony, to symbolize the binding of the mind and heart.
Blessing the Couple (Ashirbad): Parents, relatives and friends offer blessings and good wishes for the newly married couple.