Ceremonies in Connection with the Marriage Samskara under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Manu Says:

(The relationship of wife is produced by the mantras incidental to Panigrahana. The Learned says that these mantras end with the Saptapadi).

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This means that the marriage becomes complete and irrevocable with Saptapadi.

Incidental Ceremonies and their Significance:

(1) Ganapati Puja:

Ganapati is known as Vighnesvara (the Lord of obstacles). He is propitiated at the outset so that he may not interpose any obstacles.

(2) Nandi Devatas:

These are the builders of the subtle bodies (Sukshma deha) around which the physical body is formed. Since the object of marriage is the begetting of progeny, the invocation of the Nandi Devatas is specially appropriate.

(3) Graha Yagna:

The nava grahas (nine planets) exercise an important influence on man: Hence their worship.

(4) Snataka Ceremony:

This marks the close of the studies under a guru. The bridegroom asks for forgiveness of elders for any lapses on his part in observing the strict regime prescribed for a student.

(5) Kasi Yatra:

The Snataka asks for leave of the elders to complete his education by travel and to set out for Kasi (Benaras). Then the father of the bride says: “I will give to thee my well decorated unmarried daughter. You may go hand in hand with her together with the Grihya fire. So come to my house”.

(6) Vak Nischaya Muhurta:

The bridal party and the bride­groom’s party meet in the presence of witnesses. The father of the bride requests the father of the bridegroom to “see the bride decide and be happy”. The bridegroom’s father similarly invites the bride’s father to see the bridegroom and be satisfied.

Betel leaves (Tambula) are given to those present on the occasions who are the witnesses to the transaction.

(7) Sankalpa:

The bridegroom is taken to the house of the bride. He expresses his resolution (Sankalpa): “This woman I will marry to acquire the wealth of dharma and progeny”.

(8) Kanyadan:

The bride is given away to the bridegroom. The father of the bride says: “My unmarried daughter who is shining in her decorations and who is fit to be devoted wife, to thee of good character and wisdom I give for the attainment of dharma, Artha and Kama”.

(9) Bridegroom’s Promise:

The father of the bride obtains a solemn promise of fidelity to his daughter from his son- in-law. He says:

(She is not to be transgressed in Dharma, Artha and Kama). The bridegroom says: “Transgress her I will not”.

(10) Kankana Bandhana:

The Kankana or Raksha is tied and its significance is that from that time till Samave- sana (Sexual Union) ceremony, the bride and the bridegroom will not be affected by pollution as they have the raksha.

(11) Saptapadi:

Seven steps are taken round the sacred fire. The bridegroom says: “Become thou now my partner, as thou hast paced all the seven steps… Aye! Partners have we become as we have together paced all the seven steps… We shall live together and we shall reside together; we each shall be an object of love to the other; we each shall be a source of joy unto the other; with mutual goodwill shall we live together”.

(12) Pradhana Ahuti or Great Íîmà:

This homa is performed by the bridegroom with his wife. The blessings of Agni are invoked, “May the Graha Patya Agni protect her, grant her progeny, long life, make her a mother on whose lap children nestle and play, awake her only to feel the joy of having sons and grandsons.

(13) Laja Íîmà:

The mantras of laja homa pray for long life, vigour and prosperity.

(14) The Journey Home:

The bride is taken to the bride­groom’s house. The mantras indicate that the wife is to have an honoured place in the father-in-law’s house. “Be a crown to thy father-in-law: be loved by the mother-in-law, have the affection of thy sister-in-law”. The entire ritual of marriage takes its name vi from this ceremony vaha (from the root which means to carry).

(15) Gruhapravesa Íîmà:

The mantras in homas perfor­med after the bridegroom’s house is reached pray for the future prosperity of the couple. “May love grow in this house with progeny? Be thou ever ready here for the discharge of thy duties as grihini”.

(16) Tri Ratra Brahmacharya (Three Nights Brahma- Charya):

This is preceded by Agneya, Sthalipaka and Aupasana ceremonies. Continence for a minimum period of three days is enjoined for acquiring progency who would be physically and spiritually healthy.

(17) Sesha Íîmà:

This is preparatory to sexual union and is intended to propitiate the divine powers.

(18) Garbha Dana:

Garbha Dana mantras are intended to furnish the couple with knowledge of sexual science. These mantras thus impart sexual knowledge so that couple may beget spiritually worthy children.

Marriage ceremonies under the Act of 1955 The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 does not prescribe any particular ceremonial for marriage. It provides that a Hindu marriage may be solemnised in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto and where such rites include the Saptapadi, the marriage becomes complete when the seventh step is taken.