There is a complaint that the mantras used in any Hindu religious ceremonies, being in Sanskrit, is not understood by many. Therefore usually during such congregations people do not give attention to any of the central happenings, but use the place and time for gossip. This being the case, what is to be done when a wedding is attended by foriegn guests, who are keen in leaning the essence of hindu religion. I witnessed one such marriage recently. There was comparing. The text of the announcements were already in the hands of the invitees in the form of a phamplet.
This is new but welcome. I have extracted some portions of the pamphlet here for reader's information.
BARAATH : The Groom family members and friends accompany him to the wedding venue in a procession. After reaching the venue the Bride's family welcomes the groom and his family.
GANAPATHI POOJA (Worship of Lord Ganesha)· The priest offers prayers to God Almighty and all his representations. Then the parents of the bride worship Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. On any auspicious occasion Lord Ganesha is worshipped first with a request to oversee the ceremony and help in its successful completion.
GOURl. POOJA (Worship of Goddess Gouri) - The bride performs prayers, invoking the blessings of Goddess Gouri, whose own marriage to Lord Shiva symbolizes everlasting love.
PUNYAHA VAACHANAM (Calling the day auspicious and purification) The priest performs Punyahavaachana. The bride's parents prepare sacred vessels (kalashas) and invoke the sacred rivers. The water in the sacred vessels is used during the entire ceremony. The time and place of the ceremony are established as sacred and pure.
KASHI YATRA - The groom reconsiders his decision to leave bachelorhood and decides to pursue further studies in the hallowed city Of Kashi. However, he is persuaded to enter Grihasthashrama (married life) by his elders and the father of the bride.
ARIVAL OF THE GROOM - The groom is escorted back from Kashi by his sisters, parents and friends. The parents of the bride receive him and offer him hospitality. They request him to marry their daughter, and the groom consents.
ARRIVAL OF THE BRIDE - Then, the bride, escorted by her materpal uncles, arrives. The bride and groom stand facing each other, separated by the antharpata (sacred cloth screen).
MAHURTHAM (Most auspicious moment) . By chanting the Mangalashataka (sacred hymns), the priest proclaims the importance and sacredness of the Mahurtham of the wedding.
The bride and groom see each other for the first time on that day when the sacred cloth screen is removed. They place jaggery (sweet) and cumin seeds (sour) on each others heads signifying that they are now partners in happy times and sad times of their life.
KANYAADAANAM (Offering of bride to groom) - The parents of the bride perform Kanyaadaanam, asking the groom to take care of their daughter.
EXCHANGE OF VOWS - The bride and the groom exchange vows repeating after the priest, as follows (this will be repeated three times):
Bride: Dharme cha, arthe cha, kame cha, naathi charethavyaa tvyaa aham. (In the pursuit of righteous life, material resources and nawral desires, you will never leave me.)
Groom: Dharme cha, arthe cha, kame cha, naathi charaami.
(In the pursuit of righteous life, material resources and natural desires, I will never leave you.) Then, as a sign of prosperity, the bride and the groom sprinkle Akshata (rice) on each others heads.
TYING THE MANGALASUTRA (Sacred necklace) - As a symbol of their commitment to each other, the groom ties the Mangalasutra around the bride's neck.
OFFERINGS TO AGNI (God of fire) - The priest then prepares for offerings to Agni. Agni is the ultimate witness at the wedding. The bride and groom tie the ends of their garments in a sacred knot, to signify. their union. Then, they worship Agni.
AGNI PRADAKSHINA (Going around the God of fire) - The couple hold each others hand and walk around the agni four times while the priest chant~ mantras. Each round they offer puffed rice to the agni, representing their sacrifice of material possessions for God's blessings.
1st round Dharma (Righteousness, moral values, duties)
2nd round Artha (Prosperity, material possessions)
3rd round Kama (Happiness in Family, desire to enjoy)
4th round Moksha (Spiritual, toward the path of God)
Agni pradakshina is a vow to carry out moral duties and responsibilities toward each other, family and society; and to balance a life of material possessions and worldly desires with the continual striving towards spiritual liberation.
SAPTAPADI (Walking the first seven steps) - The bride and the groom take the most important, first seven steps (Saptapadi) as husband and wife. Each step signifies important things in life.
The groom holds the left hand of the bride in his right hand and takes seven steps in the southeast direction. He takes the first step (leading with his right foot), and the bride follows. Before each step, the groom chants a mantra, as follows:
Groom' : We have started on the course of the householder's life. Let us walk together.
Groom : Walk with me the second step for attaining strength.
Groom : Walk with me the third step for acquiring wealth and prosperity.
Groom : Walk with me the fourth step for pleasure and for happiness.
Groom : Walk with me the fifth step for progeny and long living.
Groom : Walk with me the sixth step for the joys of all seasons.
Groom : Walk with me the seventh step for the everlasting love.
The couple takes their final step on a stone to indicate the firmness of their resolve. After the seventh step, the groom says to the bride, "We have walked seven steps hand in hand. Let us walk through life as friends ahd equals. Let us face our problems with compromise. Let us have peace, plenty and happiness." FIRST WORSHIP AS HUSBAND AND WIFE - After Saptapadi, the bride and the groom worship Lord Ganesha. The bride worships goddesses Gouri and Lakshmi and prays for a long and happy married life.
REQUESTING BLESSINGS - The bride and the' groom request the blessings of their parents and other elders for a long and happy married life. Elder ladies bring Aarthi and wish the new couple prosperity and happiness.
BENEDICTION - The priest chants prayers of benediction. The parents of the bride and the priest offer thanks to God Almighty for the successful completion of the ceremony.
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