After the initial exchange of garlands by the bride and groom, the bride and groom are next seated in front of a holy fire, or agni, as a priest recites various mantras from the Holy Scriptures. In Hinduism, fire is regarded as a purifier and a sustainer of life. In a ritual called Mangal Fera the couple offer prayers to the fire, which represents God serving as the coupleâ€™s witness as the two are joined in marriage. Prayers are offered by placing ghee, rice, and flowers in the flame., the bride and groom walk around the fire four times (each a symbol of the four ashrams of life), praying and exchanging vows of duty, love, fidelity, and respect. The priest directs family members to make offerings into the fire. At the end of the ceremony, in a ritual called saptapadi, the bride and groom take seven vows, sealing the marriage forever. These vows are traditionally spoken in Sanskrit, and are one of the most ancient aspects of the Hindu ceremony. The vows validate the marriage; no ceremony is complete without them. During this part of the ceremony the mangalsutra which is the thread of love is the first piece of jewellery to be brought for the bride-to-be. Its appearance is that of black beads strung on a gold chain, and its intricate pendant. The ritual of the groom placing the mangalsutra around the bride’s neck is an essential part of the marriage, along with his applying the sindoor along the parting of her lustrous hair. The original concept of the mangalsutra was that of a black row of beads to ward of the evil eye. Most couples today are also exchanging wedding bands which has been adopted from the western culture.
This is an excerpt from Regeti's Blog written by Amy RegetiHindu Ceremony (3).
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