Vivaha (IAST: Vivāha) (Marriage) (Citation:
Mn.3.4). Nishekam is the ritual associated with first sexual
intercourse. It is performed in the night of 4th day after
Vivāha is the Sanskrit term for marriage.
In Hinduism, it is viewed as one of the saṁskāras (sacraments)
and not a contract. Hindu families are patrilocal.
• 1 Institution of marriage
• 2 Type of marriage
• 3 vaak daanam
• 4 kanyaa daanam
• 5 vara prekshanam
o 5.1 Madhuparka Ceremony
o 5.2 Presentation of a ceremonial cow
• 6 mangala snaanam and the wearing of the wedding clothes by
• 7 maangalya dhaaranam
• 8 paani grahanam
• 9 sapta padi
• 10 pradhaana homam
• 11 stepping on the grinding stone
• 12 laaja homam
• 13 griha pravesam
• 14 praavisya homam
• 15 The giving away of the bride (Kanya Daan)
• 16 The Nuptial Homa (Vivah-homa)
• 17 Acceptance of Hand (Pani-Grahanam)
• 18 Solemn vows (Pratigna-Karanam)
• 19 Ascending the slab / Stepping on the stone
• 20 The fried-rice offerings (Laja-Homah)
• 21 Circumambulation of the sacred fire (Parikrama, Pradakshina,
or Mangal fera)
• 22 Seven Steps (Saptapadi)
• 23 Sprinkling of water (Abhishek)
• 24 Meditating on the sun (Soorya Darshanam dhyaanam va)
• 25 Touching the Heart (Hriday sparsh)
• 26 Meditating upon the Pole Star and the Arundhati Star (Dhruva
dhyaanam darshanam va)
• 27 Partaking of food (Anna praashanam)
• 28 Benediction (Aashirvadah)
• 29 Vivaha as a sacrament (sanskara)
Institution of marriage
According to Hinduism, marriage is a union between a male and a
female with a commitment so that they can pursue Dharma, Artha
(possessions) and Kama (physical desires) together. It joins two
families. It is at once a gateway to earthly life of pleasure,
progress, prosperity and joy as it is also an altar of elevation
to a level of spiritual experience. Society recognizes and
controls it as it results in the procreation and nurture of
future generation and thereby influences the social and cultural
growth of society. According to Manusmriti, or laws of Manu,
there are eight different types of Hindu marriages. Not all
eight have religious sanction. The last four were not
religiously defined and were condemned. These are: Brahma
Marriage, Daiva Marriage, Arsha Marriage, Prajapatya Marriage,
Gandharva Marriage, Asura Marriage, Rakshasa Marriage, Paishacha
Type of marriage
Eight kinds of marriage are enumerated in Manu Smrti
III.20-34, these are:
1. Brahma Vivah: In Brahma marriage once the boy
completes his Brahmacharya Ashram (student hood), he is eligible
to get married. His parents then approach the parents or
guardian of a girl belonging to a good family and same Varna and
ask them for the hand of their daughter for their son. The
father of the girl also carefully chooses the groom who is well
versed in Vedas and of a noble character. This is how a Brahma
marriage was arranged. There was no dowry system at that time; a
girl came with two garments and a few ornaments only. According
to Dharmashastras, "Brahma Vivah" is the best marriage among
2. Daiva Vivah: If the girl is groomed with ornaments and
married to a priest during a sacrifice, it is called Daiva Vivah.
In this type of marriage the girl's family wait for a reasonable
period for a suitable man for their daughter but when nobody
turns up they go looking for a groom in such places where a
sacrifice is being conducted. According to the Dharmashastra,
Daiva marriage is considered inferior to Brahma marriage because
it is considered degrading for the womanhood to look for groom.
3. Arsha Vivah: In this type of marriage the bridegroom
gives a cow and a pair of bull to the guardian of girl.
Marriages of this type used to happen because the parents of the
bride couldn't afford the expense of their daughter's marriage
at the right time according to the brahma rite. So the girl is
married off to an old sage. The cows, which were taken in
exchange of the bride shows that even the groom does not have
any remarkable qualities. According to sastras noble marriages
had no monetary or business transactions so this kind of
marriages were not considered noble.
4. Prajapatya Vivah: In this type of marriage, the
bride's father goes in search for a groom for his daughter. The
protection of the bride or daughter is handed over by the father
to the bridegroom during the Panigrahan ceremony or the
acceptance of the bride's hands. The actual wedding ceremony
takes place after Panigrahan.
5. Gandharva Vivah: However when a man and a woman marry
with each others consent but may not have the consent of their
family then this wedding is called Gandharva Vivah or 'love
6. Asura Vivah: In the Asura type of marriage the groom
is not at all suitable for the bride . In no way he is a match
for the girl but the bridegroom willingly gives as much wealth
as he can afford to the bride's parents and relatives. So the
system of marriage is more like buying a product. In Arsha type
cows are given in exchange for the bride but there is no
compulsion like the Asura type. Even the groom is also not so
rich and powerful like his counterpart in Asura type.
7. Rakshasa Vivah: If a bride is taken by force and then
persuades her to marry. This is not considered as the right kind
of marriage as you are forcing somebody to marry.
8. Paishacha Vivah: In this type the girl's wish is not
considered whether she wants to marry or not instead she was
force to marry and even the bride's family is also not given
anything in cash or kind. This kind of marriage was later
prohibited. It is considered as the most inferior type of
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
Here, the brahmachari meets his prospective father-in-law.
As soon as the bridegroom’s party arrives, they are warmly
welcomed by the bride's parents, relatives and friends. At the
entrance of the hall, the threshold ceremony is performed. The
officiating priest chants a few mantras of blessings and
welcome. The threshold ceremony requires the bride’s mother to
receive and bless the groom with rice, red turmeric powder (kumkum)
etc., by applying tilak (red dot and uncooked rice) on the
groom’s forehead. She sprinkles rice and red turmeric powder on
the groom, and then blesses him with the palms of both hands -
stretching them close to the groom’s head. Now the priest and
the bride’s parents lead the bridegroom and his parents to the
stage where they are given appropriate seats. All the other
guests take their seats in the hall to witness the marriage
To the accompaniment of ceremonial mantras by the officiating
priest the bride’s parents welcome the groom by invoking God’s
blessings and then offering the bridegroom a nutritious drink
called Madhuparka. This is called the Madhuparka Ceremony, the
origin of which dates back thousands of years when Rishis and
sages of India used it as a way of welcoming guests.
In this ritual, the bridegroom and the bride look at each other
formally for the first time. The bridegroom worries about any
doshas (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 ceremonyThe Bridegroom shall stand facing the
east. The Bride shall stand facing the north. The bride
(offering the seat or Asana, shall address the bridegroom as
The bride: AUM, The noble one may accept and take the
The bridegroom: AUM, I am taking my seat. (ॐ
The bride shall take her seat to the right of the bridegroom.
The bridegroom performs the Achamana and Angasparsha with water.
All Hindu religious ceremonies begin with two observances,
namely Achaman or sipping a small quantity of water and
angasparsha or touching one’s limbs with one’s right hand middle
two fingers with a little water. Achaman is purificatory and
conducive to peaceful attitude of mind. Angasparsha is intended
to pray for physical strength and alertness. Achaman and
Angasparsha are performed with the aid of Mantras.
Holding with his left hand a cup of Madhuparka (composed of
honey, curd and ghee or clarified butter), after removing the
cover and looking at the Madhuparka,
The bridegroom says:
May the breeze be sweet as honey; may the streams flow full of
honey and may the herbs and plants be laden with honey for us!
May the nights be honey-sweet for us; may the mornings be
honey-sweet for us and may the heavens be honey-sweet for us!
May the plants be honey-sweet for us; may the sun be all honey
for us and may the cows yield us honey-sweet milk!
"Honey-sweet", in this case, means pleasant, advantageous, and
conducive to happiness. The bridegroom shall pour out the
Madhuparka into three cups and then partake a little of it from
each of the cups reciting the following Mantra:
The bridegroom: The honey is the sweetest and the best. May I
have food as sweet and health-giving as this honey and may I be
able to relish it!
Presentation of a ceremonial cow
The bride father symbolically offers to the bridegroom a cow as
a present. In olden times sons-in-law received real cows as
gifts, since that was the most precious asset with which a newly
wedded couple could start life. This part of the tradition has
been preserved by a symbolical presentation. At the conclusion
of the first part of the wedding ceremony, it is customary to
present gifts to the bride. The bridegroom presents the bride
with gifts of clothing and jewellery thereby acknowledging his
life-long duty to provide her with the necessities of life.
The father of the bride, offering to the bridegroom the present
of a cow, a finger-ring or some other suitable article says:
The father of the bride: AUM, (Please) accept these presents.
The bridegroom: AUM, I accept (these presents).
mangala snaanam and the wearing of the wedding clothes by the
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.
There is no Veda Mantram for tying the mangala sutram
(auspicious thread) around the neck of the bride by the groom.
The latter takes the mangala sutram in his hands and recites the
mAngalyam tantunAnena mama jIvanA hethunA |
kaNThe: badhnami subhage! sanjIva Sarada: Satam ||
This is a sacred thread. This is essential for my long life. I
tie this around your neck, O maiden having many auspicious
attributes! May you live happily for a hundred years (with me).
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.
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.
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.
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.
After ammi stepping, a ceremony of doing homam with parched rice
is conducted. Here, the wife cups her hands and the brothers of
the bride fill the cupped hands with parched rice. The husband
adds a drop of ghee to the parched rice and recites five Veda
mantras. At the end of each of the recitation , the parched rice
is thrown into the sacred fire as havis (offering) to Agni.
Through these mantras, the wife prays for long life for her
husband and for a marriage filled with peace and harmony. At the
end of the laaja homam, the husband unties the darbha belt
around the waist of his wife with another mantra. The husband
states through this mantra that he unites his wife and ties her
now with the bonds of Varuna and invites her to be a full
partner in his life to enjoy the blessings of wedded life.
This ceremony relates to the journey of the wife to her
husband's home. The husband carries the sacred fire (homa agni)
in a earthern vessel during this journey home. There are many
Veda mantras associated with this journey. These mantras pray to
the appropriate Vedic gods to remove all obstacles that one can
experience in a journey. The bride is requested to become the
mistress of the house and is reminded of her important role
among the relatives of her husband. After reaching her new home,
she puts her right foot first in the house and recites the
following Veda mantra:
I enter this house with a happy heart. May I give birth to
children, who observe the path of righteousness (dharma)! May
this house that I enter today be prosperous forever and never be
deficient in food. May this house be populated by people of
virtue and pious thoughts.
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
through a Veda mantra. Next, the husband points out the
Arundhati star to his wife and describes to her the story of
Arundhati and her legendary chastity.
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
The giving away of the bride (Kanya Daan)
Kanya means daughter or girl. Daan means giving away. This is an
important part of the marriage ceremony in which the bride’s
parents give her away to the groom by entrusting her to the
bridegroom. The officiating priest chants appropriate verses in
Sanskrit. The people in the audience (the public) are now
notified that the parents have willingly expressed their wish
and consent by requesting the groom to accept their daughter as
his bride. As soon as the groom indicates his acceptance the
bride’s parents place their daughter’s right hand into the
bridegroom’s right hand. The parents now bestow their blessings
on both the bride and the groom and pray to the Lord to shower
His choicest blessings on them.
The father of the bride, placing her right hand on the right
hand of the bridegroom, says:
The father of the bride: Be pleased to accept hand of my
daughter (name of the bride) of the Gotra (here the surname of
the family). The bridegroom: AUM, I do accept.
The bridegroom makes an Offering of the garment and the scarf to
the bride to wear. The bridegroom wears the garments and the
scarf offered by the parents of the bride.
Then facing each other The bride and the
bridegroom speak as follows:
Ye learned people assembled at this sacred ceremony know it for
certain that we two hereby accept each other as companions for
life and agree to live together most cordially as husband and
wife. May the hearts of us both be blended and beat in unison.
May we love each other like the very breath of our lives. As the
all-pervading God sustains the universe, so may we sustain each
other. As a preceptor loves his disciple, so may we love each
other steadfastly and faithfully. - RigVeda X.85.47
Addressing the bride, the bridegroom says:
Distant though we were, one from the other, we stand now united.
May we be of one mind and spirit! Through the grace of God, may
the eyes radiate benevolence. Be thou my shield. May thou have a
cheerful heart and a smiling face. May thou be a true devotee of
God and mother of heroes. May thou have at heart the welfare of
all living beings! - Rig Veda X.85.44
I pray that henceforth I may follow thy path. May my body be
free from disease and defect and may I ever enjoy the bliss of
The Nuptial Homa (Vivah-homa)
Vivah-homa is also called the "sacred fire ceremony". All solemn
rites and ceremonies commence with the performance of Homa
(sacred fire ceremony) among the followers of Vedic religion.
The idea is to begin all auspicious undertakings in an
atmosphere of purity and spirituality. This atmosphere is
created by the burning of fragrant herbs and ghee and by the
recitation of suitable Mantras.
The Achaman and Angasparsha are performed for the second time.
The bride also participates.
The three Achaman mantras involve sipping of a little water
The seven Angasparsha mantras involve touching water with the
right hand middle two fingers apply the water to various limbs
first to the right side and then the left side as follows:
7. Sprinkling water all over the body.
Acceptance of Hand (Pani-Grahanam)
The bridegroom rising from his seat and facing the bride, shall
raise her right hand with his left hand and then clasping it
I clasp thy hand and enter into the holy state of matrimony so
that we may be blessed with prosperity and noble progeny. Mayst
thou live with me happily throughout life! Through the grace of
the all-mighty Lord, who is the Creator and Sustainer of the
universe and in the presence of this august assemblage, thou art
being given away in marriage so that we may together rightly
perform our duties as householders. With all my strength and
resources, I have clasped thy hand; and thus united, we shall
together follow the path of virtue. Thou art my lawfully wedded
wife and I am thy lawfully wedded husband. God, the protector
and sustainer of all, has given thee to me. From today, it
devolves upon me to protect and maintain thee. Blessed with
children, mayst thou live happily with me as thy husband for the
full span of human life (a hundred years). Following the divine
law and the words of wisdom uttered by the sages, may we make a
good couple and may God vouchsafe unto us a shining life of
virtue and happiness. As God nourishes and sustains all
creatures through His great forces like the sun, the moon, the
earth, the air etc., so may He bless my wife with healthy and
virtuous progeny and may you all assembled here bless her!
* I accept thee as my partner for life.
* I will not keep away even mentally anything from thee.
* I will share with thee all I enjoy.
* We will persevere in the path of virtue, surmounting all
Solemn vows (Pratigna-Karanam)
The bridegroom taking the palm of the bride into his hand helps
her to rise and then they both shall walk round the altar, the
bride leading. Then facing the east take the solemn vows:
The bridegroom: <bloc
Ascending the slab / Stepping on the stone
This ceremony is referred to as Shilarohanam (Shila: stone ;
Arohan: stepping upon). In it, the mother of the bride assists
her to step onto a stone and counsels her to prepare herself for
a new life. The stone signifies strength and trust. A married
couple is likely to encounter ups and downs, joys and sorrows,
prosperity and adversity, sickness and health. In spite of the
difficulties facing them, they are enjoined to remain steadfast
and true to each other.
The bride places her right foot on the slab (stone), assisted by
her mother or her brother. The priest recites a Mantra from the
Atharva Veda (AV II.13.4)
The fried-rice offerings (Laja-Homah)
Laja means puffed rice or barley like popcorn. The bride shall
place the palms of her hands over those of the bridegroom and
make three offerings (ahutis) of fried rice soaked in ghee
* I adore God, the unifier of hearts. Now that I am leaving my
parents’ home for my husband’s, I pray that He may keep us
* With these offerings I pray for Long life for my husband and
for the prosperity of all our relations!
* (Addressing her husband) In making these offerings for your
prosperity I once again pray that God may bless this union of
Circumambulation of the sacred fire (Parikrama, Pradakshina, or
This is an auspicious and important part of the marriage
ceremony. It consists in walking around the sacred fire
(clockwise) four times. This aspect of the ceremony and the one
that follows, namely Saptapadi (seven steps)- constitute the
most important part, in as much as it legalises the marriage
according to Hindu custom and tradition. These two aspects of
the marriage ceremony establish an indissoluble matrimonial bond
between the couple.
In the first three rounds the bridegroom leads the bride as they
circle together around the sacred fire. In the fourth (last)
round, the bride leads the bridegroom around the sacred fire.
In each round around the sacred fire, an appropriate mantra is
recited which expresses noble sentiments in relation to their
future matrimonial life. Each round culminates in both the bride
and the bridegroom placing offerings or ahutis of fried rice in
the sacred fire. The Hindu religion emphasises enjoyment of life
as well as the discharging of family, social and national
During the first three rounds, God’s blessings and help are
sought; loyalty to each other is emphasised and; a promise to
keep in mind the well-being and care of the future children is
In the fourth (last) round (led by the bride) the bride promises
that she will lead her life according to the tenets of the Hindu
religion, namely Satya and Dharma or Truth and devotion to duty,
and that she will always ensure that the bridegroom can rely on
her to carry out her family, religious and household duties.
The bridegroom then places his hand on the bride’s head and
states that henceforth she will be his wife and he will shield
her against any danger or harm.
At the end of the four rounds they shall exchange seats, the
bride taking her seat to the left of the bridegroom.
Seven Steps (Saptapadi)
Besides a religious meaning behind the seven steps, there is
also a mathematical rationale on performing the 7 rounds
circling the fire. A circle is 360 degrees, all the numbers
between 1 and 9 divides 360 except the number 7. It becomes a
non-terminating number, hence symbolizing the marriage as
The ends of their garments (the bridegroom’s scarf and upper
garment of the bride) are tied together by the priest
(signifying marriage knot).Then both shall stand facing the
north. The bridegroom shall place his right hand upon the right
shoulder of the bride.
They shall take the first step in the north easterly direction.
In taking these seven steps, the right foot shall always lead
and the left foot be brought forward in line with it. Uncooked
grains of rice (about a small handful) are placed in a line at
equal distance at seven places. The bride and the groom take
seven steps together, stepping upon first mound of rice with the
right foot as the priest recites a mantra. Then stepping upon
the second mount of rice with the right foot as the priest
recites a mantra. (All seven steps are done the same way).
* May the first step lead to food that is both nourishing and
* May the second step lead to strength (at the physical,
emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels).
* May the third step lead to prosperity.
* May the fourth step lead to all round happiness.
* May the fifth step lead to progeny (noble and virtuous
* May the sixth step lead to long life.
* May the seventh step lead to bondage (through harmony,
The bridegroom says:
Having completed the seven steps, be thou my life long
companion. Mayst thou be my associate and helper in successful
performance of the duties that now devolve upon me as a
householder. May we be blessed with many children who may live
the full duration of human life!
After the completion of the seven steps ceremony, the couple
(with knots tied to each other) take their seats. The wife now
takes her rightful place on the left side of her husband as the
marriage is now religiously solemnized in its entirety. Now the
couple are husband and wife. The husband garlands the wife and
she in turn garlands her husband.
Sprinkling of water (Abhishek)
The priest (or a brother of the newly wedded wife) shall
sprinkle water on the foreheads of the bride and the groom. The
priest recites mantras from the Rig Veda (RV X.9.1/2/3) during
the sprinkling of water.
Meditating on the sun (Soorya Darshanam dhyaanam va)
Looking at or mentally visualising the sun, to give them power
to lead a creative, useful and meaningful life.
The bride and the bridegroom together pray:
O God, who art the illuminator of the sun, may we, through thy
grace live for a hundred years, hear for a hundred years, and
speak for a hundred years. And may we never be dependent upon
anybody. May we likewise live even beyond a hundred years! -Rig
Veda, VII. 66. 16)
Touching the Heart (Hriday sparsh)
Touching the heart of the bride, the bridegroom says:
May I have hearty co-operation from these in the performance of
my duties. May thou be of one mind with me. May thou be
consentient to my speech. May the Lord of creation unite thee to
May I have hearty co-operation from these in the performance of
my duties. May thou be of one mind with me. May thou be
consentient to my speech. May the Lord of creation unite thee to
Meditating upon the Pole Star and the Arundhati Star (Dhruva
dhyaanam darshanam va)
The Pole Star is stationary and fixed in its position, likewise
the couple is expected to be steadfast and firm in fulfilling
their vows and responsibilities.
Just as the star Arundhati is attached to the star Vasishtha, so
may I be ever firmly attached to my husband! Placing his hand
upon the bride’s forehead
As the heavens are permanently stable, as the earth is
permanently stable, as these mountains are permanently stable,
and as the entire universe is permanent stable, so may my wife
be permanently settled in our family! -Rig Veda X.173.4
(Addressing the bride): Thou are the Pole star; I see in thee
stability and firmness. Mayst thou ever be steadfast in thy
affection for me. The great God has united thee with me. Mayst
thou live with me, blessed with children, for a hundred years!
Partaking of food (Anna praashanam)
In the last symbolic rite the couple make offerings of food with
chantings of Vedic Havan Mantras (oblations of food in the
Sacred fire). Having done that, the couple feed a morsel of food
to each other from the residue of the offerings. This being the
symbolic expression of mutual love and affection.
Placing his hand upon the forehead of the bride, the
Ye men and women present here, behold this virtuous bride
possessed of high attainments, and before ye disperse, give her
your blessings! All the people present shall pronounce the
following blessings upon the couple.
1. O Lord, may this couple be prosperous!
2. O Lord, may this couple live in perpetual happiness!
3. O Lord, may this couple be ever infused with love for each
other. May this couple be blessed with children and
grandchildren and live in the best of homes for the full period
of their lives!
4. May you two live here together. May you never be parted. May
you enjoy the full span of human life in the delightful company
of your happy sons and grandsons!
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.
The Hindu wedding ceremony may vary in minor details from region
to region and different priests may adopt some variations.
Vivaha as a sacrament (sanskara)
Sacraments constitute an important part of Hindu religion.
Sacraments in Hinduism are designed to build a solid foundation
for righteous living. They are known as ‘Sanskaras’.Their
purpose is to create and develop a religious and spiritual
outlook in life. The Hindu religion has instituted sixteen
different Sanskaras (sacraments) meant for different phases of
life from conception to marriage to old age and death. The word
sanskara in Sanskrit means ‘to cause indelible impressions on
the mind and to develop every aspect of one’s personality.’
Therefore it is necessary to understand and appreciate their
significance and to derive benefit from their performance. Of
the sixteen sanskaras in Hinduism, the sacrament of marriage or
Vivah Sanskara is the most important. Marriage influences the
personality of man and woman as life partners, enabling them to
take their rightful place in society.