Awarding Bride in Charity
The bride’s parents will announce that they are entrusting the bridegroom with their daughter who represents Lakshmi, the Goddess of fortune. The bride’s father will then place her hand in the hand of the bridegrooms for what is known as the hasta melap. The mother of the bride pours water on to the open palms of the bride and groom who hold a coconut and other sacred articles symbolizing the giving of the bride in charity by her parents. This is accompanied by the chanting of Vedic hymns ending with the words svasti to invoke auspiciousness.
PRATIJNA & PANI-GRAHANAM
Vows and Holding of the Bride’s Hand
The bride and groom recite a mantra pronounced by the priest promising to never do harm to each other in all endeavors in life. Then the groom takes the bride’s right hand in a certain gesture and promises to protect and cherish her throughout their life together.
Binding the Knot of Affection
The sister or any female member of the brides will tie the groom’s cloth to the bride’s saree or chunni (scarf). The knot represents that they are bound to each other in mind, body and soul for the rest of their lives.
Establishing the Sacred Fire or Havan
The priest will light a small fire in a copper vessel known as an agni kund. The fire is invoked to act as a pure and sacred witness to the vows that are to be taken by the couple.
Circling the Fire Together
The couple walks around the sacred fire four times. Each round represents four aspirations:
1. Dharma: Life of piety and goodness
2. Artha: Ample wealth and successful livelihood
3. Kama: Fulfillment of desires
4. Moksha: Attainment of liberation
Offering of Oblations into the Fire
During this stage of the ceremony, oblations are offered to the sacred fire. The brother of the bride puts fried rice into her hands, half of which slips into the bridegroom’s hands under hers, which then slips into the fire. This is done three times while the bride prays to God for the long life, happiness and prosperity of her new husband.