Marriage in Hindu culture is a sacred ceremony that unites two people to start their lives together. In the Vedas (the oldest scriptures of Hinduism), a hindu marriage is for life and is considered as a union between two families, not just the couple. A Hindu marriage involves many rituals, which extends over several days, but differs from community to community.
Every Hindu pre-wedding ritual prepares the bride and groom, and their respective families, for their big wedding day. These traditional rituals and ceremonies last for at least four to five days till the day of the marriage. Some of the most important rituals and customs are Sagai or ring ceremony, Sangeet, Tilak, Mehendi and Ganesh Puja and each of them have their own symbolic importance.
Read on to know more about pre marriage rituals in Hinduism and the significance behind Hindu wedding traditions.
1.Sagai (Ring Ceremony)
The Sagai or the Ring ceremony marks the beginning of the wedding preparations. It is celebrated in the presence of a Hindu priest (pujari) as well as close family members. The ceremony symbolizes that both the bride and groom are a couple now and willing to embark on their life together.
Normally, the sagai takes place a few months before the wedding. For the sagai, some families ask a priest to decide the auspicious time for the wedding ceremony. Both families exchange gifts like sweets, clothes and jewellery as a tradition.
Apart from this, the date of wedding is decided while parents and other elderly people bless the couple.
2. Tilak (Groom Acceptance Ceremony)
Perhaps the most important pre-wedding function is the Tilak ceremony (the application of a red paste of kumkum on the groom’s forehead). It holds a significant position among all marriage rituals and customs. This ceremony is performed differently across India (depending on the caste of the family). Tilak is mostly held at the groom’s residence and is usually attended by the male members of the family.
In this ceremony, the father or the brother of the bride applies tilak on the groom’s forehead. This signifies that the bride’s family has accepted him and considers that he would be a loving husband and a responsible father in the future. It is also customary for both families to exchange gifts during the event. The tilak establishes a unique bond between both families.
3. Haldi (Turmeric Ceremony)
‘Haldi’ or turmeric holds a special place in Indian tradition. Normally held a couple of days prior to the wedding at the couple’s respective residences, a haldi or turmeric paste mixed with sandalwood, milk and rose water is applied on bride and groom’s face, neck, hands and feet by family members.
It is believed that the yellow colour of turmeric brightens the skin colour of the couple and its medicinal properties protects them from all kinds of ailments. Hindus also believe that the application of turmeric keeps the couple away from all ‘evil eyes’ and alleviates their nervousness before the wedding.
4. Ganesh Puja (Worshipping Lord Ganesh)
It is an Indian wedding tradition to worship Lord Ganesh before auspicious occasions. Ganesh Puja is mainly performed in Hindu families and is held a day before the wedding to bless the proceedings. This puja (prayer) is performed mainly for good luck as Lord Ganesh is believed to be the destroyer of obstacles and evils. The ceremony prepares the couple for a new beginning. A traditional Hindu wedding is incomplete without Ganesh Puja.
5. Mehndi (Henna Ceremony)
Mehendi is a fun ritual that is organized by the bride’s family at her house. Attended by all members of her family and held a couple of days before the wedding, the hands and feet of the bride are decorated in elaborate design with a henna application. All the members of the family sing, dance and make merry during the event. It is said that if the resulting color of the henna application is dark and beautiful, then she will be blessed with a with a loving husband. After this ceremony, the bride must not step out of the house till her wedding.
6. Sangeet (Music & Singing Ceremony)
The Sangeet ceremony is all about music and celebration! Mostly celebrated in North India, this one’s especially important in a Punjabi wedding. Of all the ceremonies, the sangeet ceremony is the most enjoyable one. Some families organize it as a separate event or even club it together with the mehendi ceremony.
Hindu marriage rituals are elaborate and incredibly distinctive! Going beyond decorations and celebrations, they are a union between two families. A traditional Hindu wedding entails a series of elaborate rituals that are both enjoyable and hold great significance and meaning before the big day.
A typical Hindu marriage is the coming together of two souls, in presence of God and their families. The couple finally exchange vows, as they marry, and are united forever.