A traditional Hindu ceremony, in most cases, is quite extravagant and beautiful, incorporating many different rituals and traditions. It is often filled with chanting and Sanskrit blessings dating back to a time long ago. The wedding ceremony is known as 'Samskara', and in India, it can last for days or even weeks. In the West these ceremonies have been modified, they are usually a little less extravagant, but can still last over two hours.
Requirements: Sari, Fire, Puffed Rice
The central component
of a Hindu wedding ceremony is 'Saptapadi', or the 'Seven Steps'. In this
ritual the Bride’s Sari is tied to the Groom’s Kurta. Alternatively, a shawl
may be draped from his shoulder to her sari. The couple then link ‘pinky’
fingers and the Groom leads his Bride in seven steps around a ceremonial fire.
While this is taking place the celebrant chants the seven blessings and vows for a strong union. These are adapted here in English from the Hindu ceremony.
1. “May this couple be
blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one
another in all ways.
2. May this couple be
strong and complement one another.
3. May this couple be
blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.
4. May this couple be
5. May this couple be
blessed with a happy family life.
6. May this couple live
in perfect harmony… true to their personal values and their joint promises.
7. May this couple always
be the best of friends.”
With each step, they
throw small pieces of puffed rice into the fire, representing prosperity in
their new life together. The action of walking around the fire indicates that
they agree to these seven blessings. This is considered the most important part
of the ceremony as it seals the bond forever.
This ancient ritual can
be easily adapted into a contemporary civil marriage ceremony with the use of
an ornamental pot of fire that can be placed on a small table. The bride and
groom can then take seven steps around the table, while the seven blessings are
spoken in English.
It is not necessary to
be Hindu to incorporate a ritual such as the Seven Steps in a marriage
ceremony. Rituals and Traditions are becoming ever popular, with couples all
over the world trying to find a ritual that is different and unique, that will
make their ceremony memorable. As long as they remain respectful of the culture
to which the ritual belongs, the use of it then makes for a beautiful and
meaningful experience for all.