(The Wedding Ceremony)

"VARA PUJA" - The bridegroom's
feet are
washed in milk and
wiped with silk by
the bride's father.
As a Brahmachari, the
groom represents the male
principle of Godhead.
The design of "Mangal Sutra"
or "Thali" varies in families.
                    The Thali rests on the bride's chest, symbolizing that her man occupies her whole
                    being, through her heart. The bride represents the female principle of Godhead
                    -The Shakthi.

                    "KANYA DHANAM" -
                    The bride sits on her
                    father's lap and is
                    gifted by him to the
                    bridegroom. On the
                    bride's head, a ring
                    made of "Darbha of
                    Kusa grass (dried
                    grass of sacred
                    variety)" is placed.
                    Over this a yoke is
                    placed. The gold
                    "Thali" is placed on
                    the aperture of the
                    yoke and water
                    is poured.

                    The manthras chanted say:
                    "Let this gold multiply your wealth, this water purify your married life. May
                    your prosperity increase. Offer yourself to your husband." The symbolism of
                    yoke is drawn from ancient rural life, where the mode of transport was the
                    bullock cart. It is just as a cart cannot run with one bull, marriage needs
                    both partners to face their responsibilities together.

The bride is then given
an auspicious ablution.
A new saree called the
"Koorai" chosen. Its color
is "Arakku (red - the colour
assoicated with Shakthi)".
The sari is draped around
the bride, by the bridegroom's
sister, welcoming her.
A belt of reed grass is then
tied around the bride's waist.
The manthras then chanted:
May "She standeth here, pure
before the holy fire. As one
blessed with a good mind, a
healthy body, life-long
companion-ship of her husband
- "Sumangali Bhagyam" and
children with long lives. She
standeth as one avowing to stand
by her husband virtuously. Be she
tied with this grass rope to the
sacrament of marriage".
                    Thanxgiving vedic hymns follow, to the celestial caretakers of her childhood,
                    the dieties of Soma, Gandharva and Agni. Having attained maturity, she is now
                    free to be given over to the care of her man.
                    The vedic concept underlying this is that, in her infancy, Soma gives her the
                    coolness of moon. Then the Gandharvas gave her playfulness and beauty.
                    And when she becomes a maiden, Agni gave her passions.
                    The bride's father chants:
                    "I offer ye, my daughter: A maiden virtuous, good natured, very wise, decked
                    with ornaments to the best of my abilities. With all that she shall guard thy
                    Dharma, Wealth and Love."
                    The bridegroom reassures the bride's father by saying thrice that he shall
                    remain her companion in joy and sorrow, in this life and life after.

                    "MANGALYA DHARNAM" -
                    The tying of the "Thaali"
                    takes place at a
                    pre-determined auspicious
                    hour. The bride sits
                    on her father's lap
                    looking eastward while
                    the bridegroom faces
                    westward. A turmeric
                    thread is put around the
                    bride's neck. To this
                    three knots are tied-
                    the first by the

                    bridegroom and the other two by the groom's sister to make the bride a part of
                    their family.
                    The vedic hymn recited by the bridegroom says:
                    "I pray that I be blessed with a long life. I tie this knot, Oh Sowbhagyawati,
                    may providence bestow on you a fulfilling life of a Sumangali for a hundred
                    As he does so the Nadaswaram is played loudly to muffle any inauspicious sounds.
                    This is called "Getti Melam". Sumangali ladies sing auspicious songs.
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