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Based on extensive experience in conducting Hindu Weddings, we can offer following services.
1. Overall Marriage Events Planning : There are many aspects that are unique to each marriage and the actual events planned. Most people start planning their marrige with us about six months prior to the actual marriage date. I have tried to answer some of the frequently asked questions in the FAQ section. I try to help the families to make this celebration cost effective, successful, less stressful and memorable
2. Pre Marriage Ceremonies : Indian weddings are well known for various social and religious events which are geared towards formal kickoff and improving the bonds between the groom's and brides' families.These are described in the Pre Wedding Events and Rehearsal sections.
3. Actual Marriage Ceremony : This is described in detail in the Marriage ceremony section.
Here are descriptions of the key events.
Two days before the wedding, many families arrange social events to bring guests and family members on both sides together. These are not religious but social events like Mehandi, Garba or Sangeet evening.
On the day before the marriage, typically in the morning, we do a formal kickoff where families on either side get together and pray for successful marriage ceremony without any obstacles. This involves Ganesh pooja, (prayers to Lord Ganesha), Grah Shanti (prayers to remove any potential bad influences of planetary bodies), Kalasha Pooja (holy water for Kannyadaan) and Mandap Devata Puja (prayers for the wedding hall deities). In Indian customs, bride's and groom's families do this function at their own house, but it can be done together depending upon the circumstances. This overall program, from set up to completion, takes about an hour and half.
Haldi/Pithi follow the kickoff ceremony, after which, the engaged couple now becomes Bride and Groom.
Although very common in western weddings, a Hindu Wedding Rehearsal is unheard of! Actually, it is most needed in the Hindu weddings! There are many unique steps in the ceremony that require logistics coordination between many members of both the families and supporting players. The overall success of the actual marriage ceremony is tremendously improved with a rehearsal.
It really helps if all participants are present to understand the meaning and the logistics of the various steps. Preferred place and time of the rehearsal should be same as actual wedding, except a day earlier. Required participants are bride, groom, their parents, their brothers and sisters, Pundit's assistant, music coordinator and representative from the venue.
I work with the bride, groom and the parents on both sides to prepare the general outline of the marriage ceremony. The final program should be done at least two weeks before the wedding day. All participants should be familiar with all the steps (see typical program under marriage ceremony) and should bring the copy of the program at the rehearsal.
Generally, I conduct the ceremony mostly in English with appropriate Sanskrit verses as necessary. It brings authenticity to the ceremony if the bride, groom and parents are willing to repeat these verses. These will be rehearsed here as well.
Typically, the Groom's parents host a post rehearsal dinner party.
In describing the marriage ceremony, I am assuming that the Bride's parents are the hosts, although the program can be modified if it is otherwise.
Hindu marriage ceremony is essentially a story of the groom coming to bride's village to get married and taking her away to his household. The story takes them through greetings, praying to God, remembering forefathers, seeking permission to get married, exchanging marriage expectations, committing to each other and the families and friends, seeking blessings and departing to the groom's house with funfair. The ceremony is full of rituals and symbolism to unite not only the bride and the groom but families on both sides as well. I do get the invited guests involved in the ceremony, as they are witnesses to the ceremony and secondly, for the couple, it is a not only personal but a social commitment as well. I do explain the overall meaning of all the steps during the ceremony
Following are the key Vedic marriage steps. Some families add a few more steps that may be unique to their families or region. In a mixed Indian /American weddings, some Christian steps can be included to complement the Hindu ceremony.
– Welcoming the Groom
Aagman – Arrival of the bride
Ganesh Pooja – Invocation to Shri Ganesh
– Giving away the bride
– Expressing expectations from married life
& Panigrahanam (Hasta Melap) – Formal acceptance of each other
Homa – Committing to each other before the Sacred Fire
Homa and Agni Pradakshina (Mangal Fera) – Tying the Marriage Knot
& starting the marriage journey
– Defining the marriage aspirations together with Seven Steps
– Marriage Hymns
Formal reception, speeches, dinner and dance follow the marriage ceremony. The Vedic Shastra as well as our traditions add few more events like Bidhai (formal send off to the newly married daughter) Saptarishi and Dhruva Prarthana (prayers to the seven sages and Dhruva) and formal Gruh Pravesha (newly married couple enters the home). These events are normally done by both the families.