Every Wedding Puja, for that matter, every auspicious work beings with the sacred worship of the remover of all obstacles and the first deity to be worshiped i.e. Lord Ganesha Puja or Ganpati Puja. This is always followed by Poonayavachnam. Both, the Ganesh Puja and Poonyavachnam combined mark the beginning of the divine Hindu Weddings.
Kanyadaan is considered to be one of the noblest acts by a daughter’s parents and is performed at the time of marriage. The significance of this prominent Wedding ritual is mentioned below from all the family member’s perspective.
For Bride’s parents:
Today, the bride is Laxmi and the groom is Vishnu. By joining their hands in marriage, we will repay the debt to our forefathers by continuing the next life cycle.
Bride and Groom to each other:
While pursuing Dharma, Artha and Kama, I will always remain faithful to you.
The Bride and the Groom communicate their expectations of married life and show their consent by showering rice on each other. Bride requests his support for a healthy and prosperous family life. Groom requests her support in pursuing Dharma and for her cooperation in his various endeavors for a successful life. They accept each other’s hands with blessings of Heavenly Gods with a promise to stay together for the rest of their lives, symbolically tying each other’s wrists with sacred thread which is called “Sutrabandhanam”.
Groom adorns Bride’s neck with the Mangalsutra, a necklace symbolizing good luck, love and commitment. The Mangalsutra Bandhnam ritual depicts both, the Bride & Groom are tied together by that necklace in holy matrimony and it stands for the longevity of the Husband and thus, the Wife always wears it symbolizing that she is married.
Vivah Homa or Havan is the start of the “Grahasthashrama” for the couple. The couple ignites the Agni, the holy fire that symbolizes light, power and knowledge, and acts as a witness to the marriage ceremony. Bride and Groom repeat the sacred pledge of marriage and request Agni to be the messenger for their prayers to various Gods.
The couple takes seven steps together to reiterate their aspirations of their married life as they get tied in holy matrimony. Uncooked grains of rice are placed in a line at equal distance at seven places. The bride and the groom take seven steps together as the priest recites mantras – each step signifies a different aspect of marriage which is described as:
With the first step, we will provide for and support each other.
With the second step, we will develop mental, physical & spiritual strength.
With the third step, we will share the worldly possessions.
With the fourth step, we will acquire knowledge, happiness and peace.
With the fifth step, we will raise strong and virtuous children.
With the sixth step, we will enjoy the fruits of all seasons.
With the seventh step, we will always remain friends and cherish each other.
Groom applies sindoor i.e. vermilion on Bride’s forehead symbolizing her as a “Soubhagyavati” and thereby blessing her for her future as a wife to him. On the other hand, even the Bride applies Chandan Tilak on Groom’s forehead symbolizing him as a “Grahastha.”