he most colourful ceremony one could see in India is Hindu Marriage. A series of enchanting scenes, such as colourful procession with dance & music, grand welcome, Jaimal (garlanding) ceremony, delectable cuisine and Vedic rituals in presence of Fire god, is a wonderful experience of sheer delight.

According to Hindu belief marriages are settled in heaven, but celebrated on earth. It is believed

Baraat- a colourful procession of Bridegroom, his relatives & friends, heading towards Bride's house.

that the Almighty has already decided a suitable life-partner of a boy or girl. However it is the responsibility of parents of boy as well as girl to find out this already decided life-partner.

Normally, the parents of the prospective spouses get together either through a common relative or through a matchmaker. The families discuss each other's backgrounds and work out the

modalities of the bondage. Traditionally, the boy's family would negotiate with the girl's family for dowry. The higher the amount of dowry, the better the proposal. Nowadays, although the dowry system has subsided among the educated people, girls are always sent to their in-laws homes with large sums of money, beautiful saris, jewellery and other valuables. All these things are given with niceties and no negotiation.

For most people in India, the betrothal of the young couple and the exact date and time of the wedding are matters decided by the parents in consultation with astrologers. At Hindu weddings, the bride and bridegroom represent the god and the goddess, although there is a parallel tradition that sees the groom as a prince coming to wed his princess. The groom, decked in all his finery, often travels to the wedding site on a caparisoned white horse or in an open limousine, accompanied by a

procession of relatives, musicians, and bearers of ornate electrified lamps.

For the initial ceremony of Dwar Pujan (prayer at the entrance), the bridegroom with his some close relatives and friends, sit at the entrance, where a red mark (tilak) of vermilion and turmeric powder is applied on his forehead in presence of the priest chanting Mantras. At the same timebride's mother blesses the groom with rice and trefoil while waving the lighted lamps in front of him. At the time of Dwar Pujan, rest of the party is welcomed inside and entertained lavishly.

After the Dwar Pujan, the groom is escorted by the relatives of the bride to an elevated platform, elaborately decorated with flowers and lighted lamps.

Jaimal- the Garlanding Ceremony

After some time, the prince is joined by the most elegant lady of the night in red coloured Sari and beautiful gold jewellery. Yes! It is the time for one of the most beautiful moments of a wedding ceremony, Jaimal, in which both bride & groom exchange garlands of fresh flowers in presence of all the relatives & friends, acknowledging the life-long bondage. Jaimal is followed by a long photo-session including Prince, Princess and near& dear ones. Next in the queue is Grand Dinner- a wide range of Indian Delicacies!

Later bride & groom are escorted to the Mandap (alter) by their parents for the core ceremony of  Agni Sakshi that goes on past midnight. The young couple circumambulates the sacred fire

A newly wedded Rajasthani Girl

(representing the god Agni) seven times, called Agni Pheras. At the same time they take solemn vows of loyalty, steadfast love and life-long fidelity to each other, with the fire as their prime witness. Hindus believe in rebirth and hence by taking seven rounds it is believed that the souls of the bride and the groom are married together for the next seven lives, including the present. Each round of the god Agni is  accompanied by the recitation of a mantra, which explains its significance.

Pheras and Vachans (promises) give weight and credibility to the institution of marriage. Apart from giving it a legal sanction, they infuse the spirit of sharing and loving in the couple- the essentials of a successful married life. Ask any of the couples what they felt while taking the Pheras and they will tell you that it was the most uplifting experience for them, translating and transforming life in a matter of seconds!

It is only after the completion of Agni Pheras, the groom ties the Mangalsutra around bride's neck, and puts Sindoor (vermilion powder) on her hair parting, thus solemnizing the wedding. This is followed by the Aashirvad ceremony- benediction by the elders.

The farewell ceremony- Vida Samaroh is held next day when the girl is sent off to her husband's house to start a new life!


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