Viva Samskara

The Rituals of a Hindu Wedding


      Groom arrives with his wedding party (baraat) at the venue and is greeted by the Brides father (the host), the Pandit and other relatives. The bride’s father and grooms father embrace each other. This meeting is very symbolic and is known as “Bharaat Milan”.

    Dwar Puja

      The Pandit conducts a short ceremony at the entrance of the venue invoking Lord Ganesh and Mother Gowrie and prays for blessings for the families and especially for the groom. The bride’s father applies a tilak (sacred mark) on the groom’s forehead.


      The ladies led by the bride’s mother welcome the groom by waving the celestial lamp and water over him and also throws bits of dough in the four directions representing north, south, east and west. The word “Parchan” means “examination” and here the womenfolk from the bride’s family get an opportunity to see and admire the groom.


      The groom and his baraat are then escorted inside to a dining area called Janwaas away from the Mandaap to rest awhile before the start of the wedding ceremony. “Jan” means people and “Waas” means to rest. They are offered a special drink called “mirchwaan” (sugared water mixed with black ground pepper) and sweets ( mithai) by the members of the bride’s family.

    Imlee Gotaaway, Naychu

      While the groom is resting in the Janwaas area, the bride enters the Mandaap where a short ceremony called Imlee Gotaaway is performed – The tips of five mango leaves are given by the bride’s uncle (mamoo) to the bride to nibble and then given to the bride’s mother. Naychu – the bride’s feet and hands are decorated with henna (auspicious markings) by a member of the bride’s family.

    Taag Paat

      The grooms elder brother now enters the Mandaap and gives the bride gifts of clothing among others (usually in a small suitcase). Then he adorns her with a sacred yarn (necklace) called Taag Paat. Symbolically he is saying that he is willing to take the responsibility of an elder brother (barkha) or father figure during their married life together. Afterwards, the bride departs the Mandaap and awaits the grand entrance of the groom to the Mandaap.

    Groom Enters the Mandaap (Madhuparka, Argaya and Gowar Puja)

      Madhuparka: Soon after, together with his baraat, the groom enters the Mandaap and is given an honorable seat and offered “Madhuparka” (a mixture of honey and curds). Symbolically, this is a great honor and is conductive of harmony and peace of mind. Argaya: (water) is now offered to the groom which he sips asking the Divine Lord to give strength to all his bodily organs. Gowar Puja: The bride’s father now gives the groom blades of grass (fodder) which he breaks and throws in two directions of the altar. Symbolically, the groom vows to protect and respect God’s creations. As an example the cow represents the very foundation of life providing milk for human beings. Next the groom offers prayers to invoke Lord Ganesh.

    The Sacrament of Kanya Daan

      The bride re-enters the Mandaap. “Swasti Vachaan” (Vedic Mantras) is chanted by the Pandit. Next, the Kanya Daan ceremony is performed. This is the giving (daan) of the bride (kanya) to the groom by the bride’s father. The bride then sits besides her parents and a shank (a symbol of purity) is placed in her right hand. In the absence of a shank, “loye” dough is used. Within the shank there is a hidden gift placed known only by the bride’s parents. Symbolically, the bride is a special gift known only to her parents and her inner most secrets are only to be known to the groom, hence the secret gift. The bride’s right hand is placed in the groom’s hand. The brother of the bride pours water over the shank as the Pandit recites the “kanya daan sankalp”. The symbolism of this ritual is that their relationship is now forged and will remain unbroken similar to the unbroken flow of the water being thrown. The bride’s father asserts that he has raised his daughter according to the customs of his family. Since his daughter is unaccustomed, to the ways of the groom’s family, he asks the groom to introduce her to their values in a gentle and loving manner. Afterwards, the groom accepts her formally and promises to protect her.

    Paaw Puja

      The bride is now directed to sit on the right side of the groom. Her parents then adore them both by washing their feet and offer them gifts at this time.

    Samanjan (facing each other) & Jai Maala

      As the Pandit recites the appropriate mantras, the bride and groom are instructed to look at each other. Then they both stand facing each other. The bride then places the “garland of victory” (a maala made of flowers) on the groom who in turn garlands her. It is customary for songsters to sing songs reminiscent of the time when Lord Rama and Seeta Maata garland each other as depicted in the Ramayaha (Seeya Raam Dalay Jai Maala)).

    Granth Bandhan (tying of the knot)

      A flower, rice, a supari and a coin blessed by the Pandit is placed in the ends of the bride and grooms garments and tied in a knot thereby solemnizing their pledge to each other. Thus, they are now bound in an eternal relationship.

    Vivah Homas (hawan)

      The bride and groom now make offerings into the sacred fore (Agni Dewta) seeking victory, protection, fertility and prosperity. In the presence of Agni, the bride and groom are promising to keep their marriage vows.

    Paani Grahan (grasping of the bride’s hands by the groom)

      The groom holds the bride’s hands and prays as follows “I take your hand for happiness, may, God grant us a long, happy and fulfilling life.” The ceremony is symbolic of taking charge and responsibility of the bride by the groom.

    Shilarohan (stepping on the stone)

      The groom asks the bride to step on a stone with her right foot placed in the vicinity of the Mandaap. Symbolically like the stone, the groom asks the bride to be firm and steadfast in her devotion and fidelity to him and her vows.

    Agni Parikrama (circumambulating the fire seven times)

      The bride’s brother standing on the northeastern corner pours “laawa (puffed rice)” into a small basket held by the bride. The bride leads the groom and circles the sacred fire four times offering the parched grains into the fire. The groom leads and circles the fire the remaining three times. Grains and leaves are symbols of fruitfulness and prosperity; and the couple prays that their marriage must be fruitful and prosperous. Again, songsters sing appropriate songs reminiscent of the marriage of Lord Ram and Seeta Maata as every marriage is seen as a merging of Lord Ram and Seeta Maata.

    Sapta Padi (The Rites of the Seven Steps)

      The groom and the bride now take seven steps together, the first combined act of the marriage. After the Sapta Padi is performed the marriage becomes binding by Hindu law. Each step that is taken infuses their minds the essential desire for a loving, last and harmonious marriage life.

    Symbolism of the 7 steps:

      The first four steps represent the four basic human goals in life: Step 1: Basic nourishment for life; Step 2: Strength; Step 3: Wealth; Step 4: Happiness; Step 5: Affluence; Step 6: Favorable divine influence; Step 7: Lifelong Friendship.

    Surya Darshan (looking at the sun)

      The groom then asks the bride to look at the Sun (Surya Dewta). Again, this act is also symbolic as the groom beseeches his wife to be steadfast in all her activities, committed to her duties, consistent in her devotion and to never loose sight in their aims in life.

    Hriday Sparsh (touching of the bride’s heart)

      The groom reaching over to the brides right shoulder touches the brides heart and says “Into my will I take thy heart, thy mind shall dwell in my mind, in my word thou shall rejoice with all thy heart: May Prajapati join thee to me” This ritual indicates that marriage is not only the physical union of two persons but also the union of two hearts or souls in a world of love as the heart is the center of all feelings.

    Saat Vaachan (Brides Seven Request)

      The bride sitting on the right side of the groom makes seven requests of the groom before moving to his left side:The groom, if at any time, you have to do Yagna, attend a religious ceremony or go to a pilgrimage, I request that you ask and obtain my consent and if possible, I am allowed to accompany you.The groom, if at any time you desire to do Pitri Yagna (worship of ancestors), I desire to be asked to join in such devotions.The groom, if at any time, my parents face dishonor, poverty or illness, you as my husband are expected to render assistance to relieve their distress.The groom, if at any time, you desire to serve our community, build a temple or involve in other religious and social service, I request that you allow me to join you in such activities.The groom, if at any time, you have to leave our home and go abroad on business or pleasure, I must have the assurance that our welfare at home will be secured, I also insist that my prior consent be asked and obtained.The groom, if at any time, you are to make gifts or receive gifts to lend or borrow, I request that my consent be asked and obtained.The groom, you are the God of our home; I ask of you now that your love and affection grow and mature as we advance in age. That you do not all allow the remarks or observations of any unworthy or dishonorable person to cause strife between us. As of today, this Sacred Ceremony, invocation of the Mantras by the Pandit, the blessings of our people and our mutual love have all joined us together for life. Let us remain so until our Creator is pleased to take us back.

    Var Vaachan (Grooms Single Request)

      The groom acknowledges and consents to the requests of the bride and proceeds to make a single request.The bride, may you forever be faithful to me and walk the path of Dharma like the great women such as Sati, Seeta, Savitri and others.

    Vaamaagni Karan (Agreement of Requests)

      After the requests of the bride and the groom are agreed upon in the presence of all, the bride then takes her place on the grooms left side and thus becomes his wife.

    Sindoor Dhaan

      The groom applies vermillion (sindoor) on the parting of the hair (maang) of the bride. This is a symbol of honor in the Hindu society as a Hindu woman wears sindoor upon her forehead as a symbol of her martial status.

    Sindoor Dhaan

      The groom applies vermillion (sindoor) on the parting of the hair (maang) of the bride. This is a symbol of honor in the Hindu society as a Hindu woman wears sindoor upon her forehead as a symbol of her martial status.

    Mangalsutra (Weeding Necklace)

      The Pandit then instructs the groom to adorn the bride with the sacred mangalsutra necklace. This necklace represents their love, togetherness and sacred union.

    Exchange of Rings

      The Pandit blesses the wedding bands which are then exchanged by the bride and groom. With special mantras, he conveys onto the water unending virtues and peace called “Ananta Punya”. According to Hindu culture, the ring is worn on the right hand. However, due to local custom, the ring can be worn on the left hand which is permitted under the rules of Sanatan Dharma.


      Final prayers by the Pandit are recited as petals and rice grains which are symbols of love, beauty and prosperity are then showered upon the bride and groom by all gathered. Afterwards, the hands of the newlywed couple are filled with grains and “dhoori” (a sweet rice ball) as it is the wish of all present that the couple be happy and prosperous. Finally, they are then led away the Mandaap.

By Pandit Rishiram Persaud & Anil Bedasie