The single identity of a bride is the trinity of 'Lakshmi', 'Saraswati', 'Parvathi'. It is the blossom of nature that defines the energy of the bride.
The divine trinity of 'Vishnu', 'Brahma', 'Maheshwara' is combined to form the groom. Evolved to walk in the enlighted path shown by the Lord himself.
The body of a man consists of many veins among which 'idi', 'pingala', 'sughamna' are quiet important. Amoung them 'sughamna' has 'surya nadi' and 'chandra nadi' on either side. The two meet in the middle of the forehead. Hence a 'Basikam' is tied at that point for both the bride and groom to protect them from ill omens.
1. ' PeLLi Chuupulu'
The parents of the bride and the groom arrange for a meeting of the two in a controlled environment, this is very important for the two as they start a new life together. During this time the two get to know about each others likes and dislikes and bond with each other and develop an understanding about each other. This is the most memorable moment in anyone's life.
2. 'Nischitaardham' :
If the bride and groom like each other the their parents would talk about dowry and ornaments, (a major part of hindu marriages, it has turned from a tradition to an addiction and hence a black mark on an otherwise beautiful tradition) they find a worthy date for the alliance and and the 'purohit' (priest) writes the 'lagna patrika' (sheet on which the auspicious date and time of the wedding according to astrological allignment of stars) infront of friends and relatives and the parents exchange the 'lagna patrika', and 'tambulalu' ( a symblol of tradition, consists mainly of 2 or more beetal leaves, beetal nuts, any fruit and anything you wish to give the person, like cloth money etc.). This constitutes the main event of 'nischitaardham' or engagement in general. This completes half a marriage.
[Westerners do not usually include parents in the marriagge process, but in India it is still customary to have arranged marriages. Not just parents, every relative has a duty to perform, that way everybody is involved. This may seem old fashioned, but in a country where everything revolves around family a bride is not just marrying a groom she is becoming a part of his family, so it is important that everyone in the family should be comfortable with her.]
3. 'Snaatakam' :
This ritual is performed by the 'purohit' either in the house of the groom or in the altar of the marriage itself. After the 'vgneshwara' (ganesh) puja, to get rid of all the sins and have a healthy body and mind this ritual is performed accoring to the 'gotram' (gotram is your ancestral identity, it helps us to know our roots).
4. 'Kaasi Yatra' :
Amist of pomp and in the presence of his friends and relatives, holding an umbrella in one hand and a stick on the other, with slippers under his feet and a turmeric filled cloth over his neck, the groom starts on a journey to 'Kasi' (varanasi/benaras) to take a oath of celibacy. Then the brother of the bride approaches the groom saying "Please relive yourself of this journey bachelor. Marry my sister and become a 'gruhastu' (married man)" he places a 'bottu' (a color of red, a must for married women) on his forehead and offers him new cloths and other gifts.
5.'Varapuuja- edurukolu' :
The groom who renounces his journey and gets ready for marriage is welcomed and greeted by the parents of the bride with great pomp and joy and is taken to the altar. they are then offered 'paanakam' (sweetened water) and new clothes.
In indian culture before the marriage the ritul of 'samaavartanam' is performed. This is very important. 'Samaavartanamu' means to return. Which means the man returns to his parents after his education with a master, bachelor completes his responsibility and prepares himself to become a married man. This is a transition from a boy to a man.
The father of the bride sees this bachelor and enquiring him about his health and happiness then he counsels him to settle down taking his daughters hand in marriage. After this suggestion the bachelor is then invited to the house of the bride which he accepts and arrives at the same, all dressed up and with a great pomp along with his friends and relatives. The father of the bride invites all of them and arrange for their convenience, and to prepare for the coming marriage. This is also called 'madhuparkam' or 'edurukolu'.
'Daanamu' means to give away without expecting anything in return it could be education, land, treasures, maiden or anything else. During the eve of a marriage giving away the bride is called 'Kanyadanam'. The groom ties a scared yellow thread around the neck of the bride and claims her as his wife and this is the real marriage ceremony. Know the essence of the mantram that is recited on the eve of kanyadanam.
Meaning : 'Oh Bride groom! As the five elements, the five shaktis, with Brahma and other divine beings as my witness I give my daughter to you. May this satisfy my ancestors souls. Accept my daughter and make us all happy.' saying so the father of the bride takes his daughter's hand and places it in the hand of the groom, them he places coconut in their hands and pours milk over the coconut so that it cascades on to their hands.
'Oh Bridegroom! I have raised this daughter of mine equal to my son and now I am giving her to you. Treat her with love and respect' says the father of the bride to the groom. Next - the bride is treated as an image of 'Lord Lakshminarayana' and his feet are washed and the 'kanyadanam' ritual is completed.
The groom is made to promise:
"dharmecha, ardhaecha, kaamaecha, tvayi aeshaa, naati charitavyaa"
Would you take this maiden to be my lawful wife and never to cross the sacred duty of this relation.
To which the groom replys "naticharami" which means I would.
Then the groom takes the hand of the bride and promises.
"Dharmecha, ardhaecha, kaamaecha, tubhya prajaa sahitva dharmachya pratipaadayaami."
By law, wealth, love, and conception I will stay by you and perform my duty. You too respect this decision and promise each other. This is the promise of the intimacy between husband and wife.
The word 'madhuparkam' is used during the marriage ceremony. madhuparkam means sweet drink. On arrival sweet drinks are offered to the friends and relations of the grooms family..
10. Vadhuvunu gampaloa techuta:
"Veduru gampa" (Bamboo basket) is a bamboo bowl. When ever you are giving away something we should always place it in a bowl. 'Apatradanam' is not customary, hence this ritual is introduced. In ancient times marrying into the mother's family is tradition, although it is considered archaic today. But getting the permission of the uncle is always considered good. The uncle (brother of the mother of the bride) brings the bride to the altar in this basket and places her infront of the groom who is behind the curtain and plays an important role in the marriage ceremony. The uncle bears witness to all the happenings of the ritual of marriage. The relatives of the groom honour them by offering them new cloths and gifts.
11. Jeelakarra Bellam:
When the bride is bought in thus in a basket, and seated on the seat at the altar and on an auspiccious moment that has been agreed upon earlier botht he bride and groom place jeera and jaggery mix on each others head. By doing so it is believed that their two hearts will be one. then the curtain betweent hem is removed. with the heands above each other's head they lokk upon each other for the first time since the marriage ceremony is started.The mantras that are recited at this moment the meaning of which is thus.
Oh Bridegroom! The sun who is the brother of Godess Lakshmi, may take care of this couple. May Bruhaspati bive these couple good heirs. King of Gods, Lord Indhra bless this women to bring healthy and strong babies into the world.
Oh Bride! May you never resort to violence. May you always look upon your husband and his relatives in good humour. May you have a good heart, good aura about you. May you bear a strong and courageous children. Offer prayers to the Divine. Be good to humans, cattle, and every one you encounter. This is what the groom tells his bride in the mantra.
The Groom removin the impurities in the bride with the incantation of mantras.
Oh Bride! May you never harm your husband or anyone else. If you have such bad aura in you may lighting of this incence remove it from you. saying so he moves the incense sticks three times in a circular motion from the tip of the toe to the hair of the bride and then pours milk on her to purify her.
Then the bride recites a mantra by which she wishes the well being of her in-laws and relatives. She performs a homam in honour of the agni deva and prays for him to make her wishes come true.
12. Mangala Sutradharana :
. The determined groom prays to the Gods of Mangalyam and invites them to their wedding altar and perform 'Shodasopacharam'. The honoured guests and married women at the wedding will have to touch the 'Mangalasutram', and when it is tied around the bride's neck mantras have to be recited the meaning of which is as follows.
This 'Mangalasutram' which symbolises my life, I tie it around your neck and make you mine. I wish it would stay here foe a hundred years, you too live with me for those hundred years.
13. Akshintalu - Talambralu:
After the most prominent aspect of a marriage the 'Mangalasutra dharana' we move on to a very exciting event in the marriage, the pouring of 'Talambralu ' on each other's head by the bride and groom. This is also called as the 'Akshataaroa panam'. 'khatah' means unbreakable. Which means the unbreakable bond of Love. 'talan' + 'braalu' meaning that which slide from the head. These could be pearls, or rice coloured yellow by turmeric.
The bride and groom take 'talambraalu' in their cupped hands and reciting the mantras the priest who is presiding over the marriage will let them slide over each other's head for three time. The meaning of the mantras is thus:
'May I have the children of my desire' saying so the bride poures the talambralu on the grooms head.
'May we have happiness, esctasy, joy, bravery. We we enjoy every happiness in a married life.' saying so the groom pours the talambralu over the brides head'
Then the preist recites a mantra:
'The wanderings of the heart of desire, words and truth, may they experience all this together. By their senses, by their food may they prosper and may wealth approach them'. then the bride and groom pour the talambraalu over each other with joy. Next is the 'Brahmamudi', and 'Agnipradakshana' were to follow.
14. Ungaralu tiyyadam:
'Ungaralu tiyyadam' taking out the rings is also called 'Pradhaanaamguliiyakam'. Bring in a pot with a tight mouth and fill it with milk and water. A gold ring is dropped into it. When the priest indicates both the bride and groom put their hands in the small mouth of the pot and try to retrive the rings. who evr finds the ring should put it on the other's hand.
This event is the most fun for those who watch it and even more to those who do it, but the real intent of this event is 'sparsa' the first touch of the bride and groom in a pure and sanctified environment. The bride and groom who have not been near each other until then have their first contact during this event and removes shyness. Inbetween fun and games the bride and groom learn to compromise, have fun, sacrifice for the other and learn that marriage is not about winning or losing but playing and having fun.
On the south of the fire near which 'Mettelu' were put on the bride seven 'tamalapaku', leaves are laid down and the bride is made to touch each of these leaves with her feet promising each time she touched each leaf.
1. Aekamishae Vishnustvaanvaetu - By this first feet may (Vishnu ) provide us everything in plenty.
2. dvae uurjae vishnu svaatnvaetu - By this second feet may (Vishnu) give strength.
3. triini vrataaya vishnustvaanvaetu - By this third feet may (Vishnu) give us the fruit of the vratam.
4. chatvaari mayoabhavaaya vishnu stvaanvaetu - By this fourth feet may vishnu grant us the authority to perform Vratam.
5. pamcha pasubhyoa vishnu stvaanvaetu - By this fifth may vishnu grant us cattle.
6. shadrutubhyoa vishnustvaanvaetu - By the sixth feet may vishnu grant us with children.
7. saptahoatraabhyoa vishnustvaanvaetu - By the seventh feet may vishnu grant 'Rutvijadulu'.
By walking these seven feet with me you are now my friend. I would never stray from your company. With mutual love may we shine bright like an ideal couple, whole heartedly we take food, strength and all other senses we share. Let us prepare ourself to standby all the rules.
16. Vadhuvu varunitoa palikae vakayamulu:
By reciting a mantram the bride speaks to her husband thus.
You be without a fault. I will be so too and support you. You are like the sky and I am the earth. You are 'Sukladata' and I am the wearer. The most important part is the heart is me, the one that is present in my heart is you. If I am the 'Sama Veda' then you are the 'Rig veda' We symbolise the pairs in nature.
With we have a sons good conduct and manlyhood, and daughters who are adorned with the beauty of truth and good manners.
'Lajaalu' means puffed rice, with cupped hands the bride takes the puffed rice while the mother of the bride stands behind her. The brother of the bride pours these puffed rice in their hands and sprinkles ghee over it. Then the bride and groom pours this mixture into the fire reciting the mantam.
18. Dhruva Nakshatram Arundati Nakshatra Darsanam :
After performing the 'homam', the bride and groom are brought out that night and are shown the wandering north star 'Dhruva'. This is also called as the 'Arundhati' star while reciting the mantram.
Oh Druva Star! You were are indestructable, with an unstoppable motion. You make the other stars to hold in their positions. You have a host of stars about you. Similarly may I be in my husband's house. Please give me stability. Among the seven rishis Vasista was the first and his wife Arundhati is holy. With six other holy people you have become famous. Similarly give me fame and stability in my husband's place.
These elaborate ceremonies of marriage all are bound together with the mantras of whose meaning we have to know and follow for a happy and successful life.