In Hinduism prayers are an essential part of the traditional wedding ceremony. Beginning days before the wedding and occurring until the end of the final ceremony, a number of religious rituals are performed with the intent to evoke the presence and blessings of the deities, convey the familial support and solidify the union and commitment of the bride and groom.
The Mandap Muhurat is a religious prayer ritual performed at the homes of the bride and groom and on the day of the wedding ceremony. During the Mandap Muhurat, a priest leads the families of the couple in prayers to Lord Ganesha, asking for his blessing and the removal of bad luck and negative energy from both the wedding and the marriage. The small pillared structure under which the couple gets married is the mandap. On the day of the wedding, the groom prays to Lord Ganesha once more underneath the mandap.
The Kanyadaan is a ritual performed during the wedding ceremony by the parents of the bride to indicate their blessing of the marriage between their daughter and the groom. Kanyadaan also symbolizes the offering of the bride to the groom as a gift, as he is representative of Lord Vishnu and is being trusted to care for the bride. During the ritual, the right hands of the bride and groom are joined together by the bride’s father and then the bride’s mother pours holy water over the united hands while the priest recites sacred prayers.
The sacred fire ritual, known as the Havan, is a ceremony performed during the wedding to ask for marriage blessings from the deities. During the ritual, a fire is lit with clarified butter, wool and wood, and offerings, such as puffed rice and herbs, are thrown into the fire while the priest chants mantras. Most often, the priest's mantras are intended to pray for Agni, the god of fire, to act as a divine witness to the wedding.
In addition to evoking the deities during the Havan, the Saptapadi is a ritual that is performed while the couple walks around the sacred fire, solidifying the marriage. Known as both the Seven Blessings and Seven Steps, the priest and the couple recite the seven marriage vows during the Saptapadi. The blessings that the couple pray for include abundant resources and food, a strong and prosperous marriage and family, eternal happiness and harmony and lasting friendship. As the Seven Blessings are spoken, the bride and groom take seven steps around the fire while their hands are held by their interlocked little fingers. Oftentimes, the bridesmaids will throw flowers at the couple as they perform their walk around the fire.
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