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Indian Wedding Ceremony
Lord Ganesha - the Remover of Obstacles - is the one who bestows Happiness, Success, Wealth and Strength and is the presiding deity at the Indian Wedding Ceremony. We pray to him humbly before we begin any endeavor and ask him to bless us so that there are no unruly obstacles in our path. Before starting out upon the path of marriage it's customary to follow a ritual bath of fresh milk curds, turmeric and henna and pure vegetable oils. It symbolizes the preparation and purification of one's body, mind and the very soul for marriage.
In order that the wedding be propitious the bride's hands are decorated with fresh henna paste called "Mehndi" in extremely delicate and intricate patterns. All women also put on "Mehndi" for the protection of the couple’s good fortune. The gay colors and the jingling of colorful bangles adorning the arms of all the women depict the exurbant joy felt and the festive atmosphere brought about by the occasion of the wedding.
The bride’s father and family welcome the groom and a few of his family members. Garlands are exchanged by the bride and groom symbolizing the girl’s choice of a life partner. Then they leave an imprint on a roll of cloth as the official symbol of the ceremony after dipping their hands in orange saffron paste. The groom's sisters bring in gifts of jewellery, clothes and sweets laden and decorated on elaborate trays and fill the bride's lap with them, blessing her on the family's behalf to always live in prosperity and wealth and to bear as many children as she wishes.
The groom mounts a white horse and arms himself with his sword vowing not to return without his bride. It is said that from this time onwards the groom assumes the form of "Lord Vishnu" and his bride to be is the from of "Goddess Laxmi". The bride's father and family welcome this procession of the the groom clad in colorful turbans - "Paghrees" and perform a welcome prayer with he bride's father and the groom promising each other to perform the sacred rites of marriage according to their prescribed religious duty.
The bride and groom are honored by the bride’s family by washing their feet. Then performing "Kanyadaan" the bride's father gives away his daughter to the groom in marriage symbolized by placing her sacredly decorated hand into the groom's blessing that they may become one. Thus the religious vow of the bride's father is fulfilled and he receives the highest blessing of Spiritual Liberation - "Moksha".
The couple make their sacred vows around the sacred fire - "Agni". The bride promises to lead the way in the pursuit of the first three marital roles, vis-à-vis, the establishment of Spiritual Duty - "Dharma", the Protection of Wealth - "Artha" and the Fulfillment of Desire - "Kama". However, she lets the groom lead the way of Spiritual Enlightenment "Moksha". Symbolizing this she leads him around the fire three times and then lets him lead her around the fire once. Then to signify the steadfastness of her vows she places her foot on a holy stone. Eventually the bride and the groom make seven vows of friendship, love, fidelity and spiritual duty by taking seven steps together. To symbolize this the bride change places with the groom, moving to his left, after placing vermilion in the parting of her hair - a sign of protection and blessing.
Thereafter the bride’s mother advises her daughter of her new role and responsibilities, blesses her and bids her and her husband farewell - "Bidaai". The groom's mother welcomes her daughter-in-law - "Bahu Rani" into her new house and believes her to be the form of Goddess Lakshmi. The bride symbolizes the arrival of good fortune by putting her right foot over the threshold of the house into a tray of vermilion powder. She now takes five steps with both her feet covered in red and finally kicks over a vessel filled with coins and rice signifying wealth and fertility. The bride then asks the blessings of the family ancestors by praying to them and Gods and then her sister-in-law - "Nanad" welcomes her to her first meal in her new home.
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