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Arya Samaj weddings are simple but rich in significance and are performed according to Vedic rites. Unlike other Hindu weddings, an Arya Samaj wedding does not involve lavish décor and are known for their simplicity and are usually inexpensive. The mantras chanted during the ceremony are translated into a language which the couple understands and the couple is explained the meaning of every mantra. An Arya Samaj wedding can be performed by any religion. The pre and post wedding rituals may vary depending on the regional and cultural background of the couple. Arya Samaj weddings do not believe in idol worship hence the wedding is performed with fire as the witness. The wedding ceremony is short and simple and usually lasts for about an hour.
Pre Wedding Rituals
Sangeet: This is a fun ceremony which is held at the bride’s home a few days before the wedding. This involves the bride’s female friends and relatives singing folk songs and celebrating the new phase which is going to unfold in her life.
Mehendi: This is a function for women of the family and the bride’s female friends which is held at the bride’s home, usually two days prior to the wedding. This first step is to purify the bride before she is decked for her big day. A paste of turmeric and sandalwood is applied to the bride-to-be. This is considered to purify the bride and beautify her looks. Then intricate henna designs are artfully drawn on her hands and feet to adorn the bride for her big day. Mehendi is also applied to the guest present at the ceremony.
Brahmbhoj: This ritual involves feeding sixteen Brahmins on the morning of the wedding. This is a very important and customary ritual practiced at all Arya Samaj Weddings. It is considered very auspicious and the Brahmins are usually served by family members.
Chudha and Nath: This ceremony is observed by North Indian Arya Samajis such as Punjabi’s. The ceremony is conducted by the bride’s maternal uncle. He slips a set of twenty-one red ivory bangles. Twenty-one is considered to be an auspicious number and the red colour is associated with brides during weddings. Her uncle also gifts a nose ring- nath for her wedding.
Varmala Ki Kriya: The wedding ceremony commences with the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom. The bride garlands the groom first. The exchange of garlands demonstrates public acceptance of each other for a life time.
Swagat Vidhi: This is basically the welcome ritual conducted by the bride. The bride offers sacred water to the groom to wash his feet.
Madhupark Se Satkar: This is a ritual where the bride offers a mixture of curd, ghee and honey to the groom. The ritual indicates the commitment of the bride to feed and nurture her family.
Thread Ceremony and Yagna: The groom wears a sacred thread. This is the initiation ceremony and symbolizes the transition from a boy to a married man. Fire is worshipped during the yagna and alms are given away at the end of the ceremony. Fire is considered as a witness to the sacred ceremony and hence the vows are always taken in front of the fire.
Godan: This is one of the most sacred rituals followed by Hindus where a calf is given away as alms to a Brahmin.
Pratigya Mantra: This is a ritual where the bride and groom hold hands and take vows in front of the fire which is meant to make the marriage strong and sacred.
Parikarma: The couple circles the fire four times during this ceremony. The bride prays for the health and prosperity of her husband while the groom promises to protect his wife and respect all women.
Kesh Mochan: In this ritual the groom gently loosens the brides hair and let’s it cascade down freely. He recites a mantra and assures her that he would never do anything to hurt her.
Saptapadikriya: The ends of the bride’s saree and the groom’s shawl are tied together, and the couple walks seven steps to signify their seven needs: nourishment, strength, wealth, health, progeny, good luck and a loving relationship. At the end of this ceremony the older members of the family sprinkle water on the couple and advise them to be calm and good tempered at all times.
Suryadarshan: The couple worships the Sun God during this ceremony. They pray for good health and prosperity for their new life together.
Hriday Sparsh: The couple touch each other’s heart and make a promise to be gentle with each other.
Sindoor Daan: This is a common ritual where the groom applies sindoor on the wife’s hair parting.
Dhruv Darshan: According to this ritual, after the marriage is completed, the couple is supposed to see the Polestar together; as it signifies the bond, which lasts for a life time just like how the star is constant in the sky.
Reception: This ceremony is usually followed by the wedding where the couple is blessed by all the people present.
Taking off the Chuda: The Chuda worn by the bride on the day of the wedding is taken out by her sister-in-law a couple of months after the wedding; usually within a month to a year after the wedding depending on personal beliefs. She also presents the bride with a set of new clothes and jewellery on this day.