I have been intrigued by Marriage Rituals, meaning of these rituals, their significance and rationale behind all of these. I have not attended many marriages, even if I did, we were so caught up in catching up with the bunch of friends, family and relatives.So here goes my attempt to understand a marriage ceremony. I gathered all this from the internet.
Not many of us understand these rituals, mantras that bride/ groom are asked to recite. I wonder if atleast the Pandit who performs the ceremony understand them. Hindu marriages are performed in Sankrit language. So what does a Hindu marriage mean? And what we should look for in it, and how we should apply it to our lives. What's really involved, why do we go through all that ceremony, and what is the meaning of saying that we don't have the concept of divorce in Hindu marriage and why is it so?
Concept of Marriage - In the Hindu culture tells you how to translate this experience of unity in diversity. The Oneness.
Who is the bridegroom – The father of the bride worships the feet of the bridegroom in the marriage saying:
Namostu anantaya sahasramurtaye Sahasrapadakshi shira uru bahave sahasranamne purushaya shashvate sahasrakoti yuga dharine namah
[ ( I bow down to him ) ( one who has no ending ) ( One who has a thousand forms ) (having a thousand heads ) ( one who has got a thousand rays coming from him ( sheer ) ( he is existing forever ) (for thousands of crores of eras, he has been there ) ]
The bridegroom is none other than MahaVishnu, physically present as an individual here, I am washing his feet. Sahasra murtaye, the one who has a thousand forms. In Sanskrit, the word thousand is used in a different sense than we normally understand . The three zeros are the three illusions of our wakefulness, of our dreaming and sleeping state. The reality, the one is you; you are experiencing all these three states. One thousand is meant to represent infinity of experiences in these three states of our being. So you see, you are not seeing the bridegroom as an individual. You are considereing him as a manifestation of Maha Vishnu directly. And it is to him the Kanya, the bride is being offered.
Who is the Bride?
The wealth of the lord, Maha Laksmi, aishvarya. All the wealth in the world, all the enjoyment, all the riches, all the experiences, they are the Maha Laksmi.
Kanyam kanaka sampannam sakala abharanih yutam.
This bride is offered as the wealth of the world unto thee, unto the God who owns this wealth.
Process of Marriage
1. NANDI - getting started
2. NISCHITARTHA - confirming the alliance
3. ANKURARPANA - creation of the alliance by lighting the yagna fire
4. LAJA HOMA - yagna
5. SNATHAKAM - graduation ceremony
6. UPANAYANAM - thread marriage
7. KASI YATHRA - the indecisive journey of the groom to kasi for the sanyasa and bringing him back to the house by the parents of the bride for the marriage.
8. KANYA DANAM - offering of the daughter for the marriage.
9. PANI GRAHANAM, SAPTHA PADHI, MANGALASUTHRA DHARANA, OR VEEKSHANAM - the seeing of each other, touching of each other, and walking together, and tying the knot of the marriage.
10. TALAMBRALU - aimed at the bringing the bride and the groom nearer in psychological and mental paths.
11. ARUNDHATHI DARSHANAM – The significance is to remind the pair about their cosmic responsibilities they have to perform in the coming walk of life.
12. GRIHAPRAVESAM - taking the bride to the in-laws house
13. APPAGINTHALU - handing over the daughter to the groom
14. DHRUVA DARSHANA
15. SOBHANAMU - nuptials
16. GARBHADANAM - the act of creation of the foetus.
The actual muhurtam, when the two get married, is when they put their hands on each others' heads, it's called sumuhurta. You have a betel leaf, some jaggery, and some seeds, and that is kept on the heads of the bride and bridegroom mutually. he real meaning of the guru and sishya relationship is that like a transmitter and receiver. When I'm talking and you're listening, I'm the guru and you are the chela or sishya. But when you're talking and I'm listening, you're the transmitter and I'm the receiver; so you're the guru and I'm the sishya. You learn to see the oneness of yourself with the other.
Upanayana means taking you near God. nayana means taking, upa means near. You're being taken near the Goddess, the mother Gayatri, by the thread ceremony. The thread ceremony entitles you to recite Gayatri Mantra. Gayatri is a Shakti who is ruling the whole world. She is the creatrix, she is the sustainer, she is also the destroyer. She combines all these powers into her. And if you get the right to recite the Gayatri, you become a Shakti upasaka, then you go through the transition called upanayana. The dynamic nature you have to understand, and implement, and expose yourself to in your life.
Saptapadi : Marriage is based on friendship. To establish this relationship more completely, the Vedic mantras that are used in the marriage have what is called saptapadi, the seven steps that you walk together around the fire.
Few lines from this saptapadi are:
Sakha saptipadi bhava - be my friend who walks these seven steps together.
Sakhyam te gameyam - may I aspire to your friendship.
Sakhyam temayoshah; sakhyam me ma yoshtyas – your friends are mine, my friends are yours
The seven steps that you go around the fire are supposed to be the seven chakras in your body, if you are aware of the psychic chakras, they are supposed to be seven centers where you're connected to the cosmos. By keeping your awareness in these centers you're able to connect to he cosmos. Those who are practicing yoga become the cosmos. Marriage is considered as yoga. Yoga is a part of samyoga, where two are merging together in total love, and then they practice yoga. The bride and groom take seven steps symbolizing a vow for each step towards one another.
1. Together we will share the responsibilities of home and children
2. Together we will develop mental, physical and spiritual strength
3. Together we will prosper and share our worldly goods
4. Together we will fill over hearts with great joy, peace and happiness
5. Together we will raise strong and virtuous children
6. Together we will remain faithful, lifelong partners.
7. Together we will cherish each other and our families in sorrow and happiness.
Purpose of the marriage?
Dharma praja sampatti artham striyam udvahe.
The spark of life was given to us by our parents. And we have to repay that debt. And how do repay that debt? By procreation. By creating another spark of life, we repay that debt to our parents. And that reason is one of the prime reasons for marriage. So if you want to have children, you must beget them through a married partner. That is the dictum. Now we got what are called four purushartas, which are called dharma, artha, kama, moksha. In every samkalpa we say "Dharma, artha,, kama, moksha, cathur vidha phala purusharta siddharthyam. I want to do my duty, I want to earn money, I want to fulfill my desires, and I want to be liberated. These are the four basic desires that everyone has. So dharma is defined as giving the spark of life which have received from your father and mother, and pass on that life to a new life. So you have the bounden duty to continue this spark of life unbroken. And let the life evolve into higher an higher forms. So your defined purpose is to generate children and that is one of the prime reasons for marriage.