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Sikh Program Book - Style 1
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The Wedding Ceremony of

XXX
and
YYY

Saturday July 1, 2006

The Wedgwood Room
8090, Albert hall, NY, USA

 

Part-1
 


Ceremony conducted by
Pundit XXX

Welcome, all of our guests.

The Hindu wedding ceremony is based on traditions and rituals that originated in ancient Sanskrit scriptures known as the Vedas. Over time, the Vedic rituals have been combined with different traditions, creating unique wedding customs in each region of India.

Today, the Vedic ceremony will combine elements from both Hindu and Sikh traditions, reflecting XXX and YYY heritage respectively. It is meant to symbolically unite the bride and groom so that after marriage they unite as one in spirit.

The majority of the ceremony will take place in the mandap (a wedding canopy built of four poles to represent the universe). Each of the five Indian elements-fire, water, air, earth and space-are represented within the mandap. Agni (the holy fire) exists as a divine witness to this sacred union and symbolizes the illumination of knowledge and happiness.


An Indian wedding is a grand social affair that’s typically celebrated over several days with family and friends during spirited events, including song and dance festivities and henna parties. Relationships are renewed and rejoiced.

This Hindu marriage ceremony will be conducted in the ancient language of Sanskrit. The main aspects are described below:

                   
Swagtam-Baraat
                     (Arrival of The Groom):

Wedding celebrations commence with XXX family welcoming Neil, his family and friends to the wedding venue. The YYY ceremony is a special greeting of the baraat, performed between members of each family.

XXX is then escorted to the entrance where Krishna, YYY mother, welcomes him. She blesses him and performs aarti (moving a small flame in a circular motion in front of his face to free XXX from obstacles and bad luck). Krishna then applies a tilak (red mark on XXX forehead) as a sign of welcome and to invite good luck.

XXX then steps onto an earthen pitcher, crushing it into many pieces. This demonstrates that he has the ability, strength and determination to overcome all obstacles that the couple may face. XXX is then escorted by YYY parents to the mandap.
 

Part-2
 


                           Kanya Aagaman
                      (Arrival of the Bride):

YYY is escorted to the mandap by AAA, her brother, and her cousins.

Jaimala
(Exchange of Wedding Garlands):

The couple exchange garlands, signifying the union of two bodies and two souls into one entity, then proclaim their love and mutual acceptance of one another.

Load Ganesh and
Navagraha Pooja
(Opening Prayers):

Every auspicious occasion begins with an invocation of the Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. This is to ensure a ceremony free of impediments and a marriage free of all hardships. Prayers asking for continuous happiness and prosperity are then offered to Navagraha (the nine planets) and the presiding deities of marriage.

Madhupark
(Honouring of the Groom):


With the accompaniment of mantras by the priest, YYY parents welcome and honor the groom by washing his feet. It is believed that through the parents’ prayers, the man that their daughter will marry is an embodiment of Lord Vishnu, and he is honored as such. 

XXX, YYY father, then offers Neil madhuparka (a sweet drink made of honey for good health, clarified butter for strength and beauty, and yogurt for brilliance). Madhuparka also symbolizes the sweetening of relations between the couple’s families.


                     
Gaanth Bandhan
                            (Tying of the Knot):

For good luck, a married woman ties the corners of Neil’s and XXX garments together with a knot to represent their inseparability.

Kanya Daan
(Giving away of the Bride):

The rituals proceed as XXX parents perform the Kanya Daan, considered one of the most sacred gifts that parents can offer to God. Both parents wash the couple’s feet with milk and water to purify them for their new life together then apply tilaks to their foreheads. Radhe guides YYY hand on top of XXX, symbolizing his blessing of their union. The bride and groom’s hands are filled with betal nuts and rice, signifying unity,
 

Part-3
 



prosperity and happiness. Radhe then holds an open palm over the couple’s hands while Krishna pours water then milk over her husband’s hands. This subsequently falls on the bride and groom’s hands, purifying their union and blessing them with happiness and prosperity. The gesture symbolizes a promise from the father of the bride: “I offer you this most precious gift-my daughter-to take as your own, to cherish and protect. Take my daughter to be your life partner.” 


                      
Vivaaha Havan
                        (Lighting of the Fire):

Agni (the sacred fire, considered to be the sustainer of life) is lit using ghee (butter), wood, incense and camphor. As XXX and YYY sit side-by-side facing the fire, she holds his hand while XXX makes offerings of ghee to the fire and the priest chants mantras for their longevity as a couple. 

Mangal Pheras or
Agni Parikrama
(Circling the Fire):

XXX and YYY walk around the fire seven times, accompanied by the chanting of mantras and assisted by AAA, who offers a fistful of puffed rice to the bride and groom as a sign that he wishes happiness upon his sister’s marriage. In the first four parikramas, the bride walks ahead of the groom, signifying that she will lead in all matters pertaining to household activities, along the path of dharma, arth, kaama and moksha. In the final three parikramas, the groom walks in front, signifying that he will lead in matters related to community activities. Together, they will live a righteous and spiritual life. They also offer rice each time they circle around the fire, symbolizing fertility and prosperity.



                         
Panigrahan
                       (The Groom's Promise):

Neil holds Noopur’s hands and promises, “I will hold your hands forever. I do so to keep you happy and I am proud to be your husband.

May God, who has united us, bless me so that I will be an ideal husband.” He then recites the hymns for happiness in their lifelong relationship.

Shila Rohan
(Stepping on the Rock):

YYY places her right foot on a piece of rock while XXX recites a statement that encourages her to be as strong as the rock and firm when they face future difficulties together.

                       
Sapta Padi
                 (The Seven Sacred Steps):

The ceremony of the seven steps is the most important part of the ceremony. Prayers are recited as the couple walks the seven steps together, symbolizing that they are now lifelong friends who share the same thoughts, desires and aspirations. They have become two bodies with a single soul. While holding hands, Neil and XXX walk the seven short steps together, taking a vow at each step:

Part-4
 


1.  Let us live with honour and respect. Let us walk together so we get food.

2.  Let us be happy and enjoy life. Let us walk together so we get strength.

3.  Let us share joys and pains together. Let us walk together so we get wealth.

4.  Let us not forget parents and elders. Let us walk together so we get happiness.

5.  Let us observe all acts of charity. Let us walk together so we have family.

6.  Let us live a long and peaceful life. Let us walk together so we have joy.

7.  Let us be friends who share love and sacrifice. Let us walk together so we have friendship.

The couple then ends this ritual with XXX seated to YYY left. Since the heart is on the body’s left side, this signifies that XXX will keep YYY in his heart at all times.

Saubhagya Chinna
(Marks of Auspiciousness)
And Mudrika
(Exchange of the Rings):


XXX adorns YYY, as his wife, with sindhoor (red powder) on her forehead, thereby promising to cherish and protect her as if she were his own life. He also offers her the Mangal Sutra, an auspicious necklace, which symbolizes the couple’s togetherness, love and their sacred union. Both XXX and YYY then conclude these rituals by exchanging wedding rings.

                    
Surya Dharsan:

XXX then requests YYY to look towards the sun, symbolizing enlightenment.

Aashirwaad
(Blessings):

The priest prays for blessings from the supreme Lord for the well being of the newly weds and of those assembled. Relatives and friends then sprinkle rice and flowers on the couple. Afterwards, the couple seeks blessings from the Gods, parents and elderly relatives by bowing to their feet. Married women from the family bless the Bride by whispering ‘Akhand Soubhagyawati Bhav’ (blessing for abiding marital happiness).

Pronouncement:

The Bride and Groom are then declared legally and spiritually as one.
 

Part-5
 


                           
Vidai:

The ceremony is completed with the departure of Bride and Groom, which is known as Vidai, Farewell to the bride by her parents, siblings, relatives and friends, indeed a very emotional part of the whole event. The Bride is leaving her parental home to build an entirely new life with her husband and members of his immediate family in a different environment altogether. She leaves with tears of joy and sorrow but carries the very best wishes of all who witnessed her matrimonial ceremony and throws a handful of rice so that house of her childhood remains prosperous and happy.


The Gupta and Parmar families sincerely thank all for joining us in our celebration today. We feel blessed to have the support and unconditional love of such wonderful family and friends, which has led to the
happiness that we share today.

 


       


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Part-6
 

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