The Hindu marriage ceremony we witnessed is called a Vinayagar Pooja as all incantations are all directed to Ganesh, the Elephant- headed Deity, the Remover of all obstacles.
Rituals and ceremonies are an integral part in Hindu religious practices and they have different meanings.
Welcoming of Guests: Guests were welcomed with fragrant rose water sprinkled on them. Sandal wood paste and red saffron (kungkuman) were applied to the forehead. Rock sugar was also offered so that all words and relationships may be sweet on this occasion.
Purification Ceremony of the Bridegroom: The priest tied a saffron thread on the right wrist and a ceremonial straw ring around his right ring finger. There was then the invocation to Ganesh.
Significance of breaking Coconuts: It symbolizes the shattering of the ego. To worship well, the ego must be surrendered or it will obstruct true worship .
Bride's entrance: The bride entered, led by her mother and sister, close relatives and friends. She took the place on the right of the bridegroom. The priest tied a yellow string on her wrist to pronounce her pure and ready for marriage.
The Marriage Ceremony (Manggalya Pooja): The bride and the groom sat on the wedding dais whilst the priest sat on the floor in front of them and invoked Vedic mantras (ancient sacred incantations in Sanskrit).
The priest began the age-old ceremony by lighting a small fire , calling upon God to witness the pledge of fidelity by the bride and groom.
The priest then proclaimed the names of the bride and groom and traced their ancestry for 3 generations. He then called upon God and all present to bear witness to this marriage and bless the union.
Blessing of the Thaali: The thaali is a gold locket strung in a gold chain (kodi). It symbolizes the union of the couple. The bride will continue to wear it throughout her married lfe.
During the ceremony, the thaaali was taken around by a married couple to be blessed by all.
Tying of the Thaali: At an auspicious time known to the couple and their families, the groom tied the thaali kodi around the bride's neck.The musicians on the drum and the trumpet played to a crescendo. It was the moment everyone was waiting for. Simultaneously, the guests showered the couple with tumeric coloured rice. This culminated the marriage ceremony and it signified that they are now man and wife.
Exchanging of Garlands and Circumbulating of the Fire: The newly married couple exchanged garlands to express their mutual love and acceptance of each other.They offered each other milk and other fruits to signify a sweet start to a life of togetherness.
They held hands and circled the sacred Fire doing the 7 rounds or Sapta padi. During this ritual, the priest read the 7 vows.
Stepping on the Grinding Stone: The groom placed the bride's right foot on the granite grinding stone imploring her to bear all difficulties with him and to be chaste.
Blessings: The ceremony drew to a close. The priest offered prayers and blessed the couple. The happy couple was duly blessed by their parents, relatives and close friends traditionally done with tumeric rice.
The guests and relatives were invited to a vegetarian meal to celebrate this auspicious event.
Aalatthi: Two married ladies showed the aalathi to the couple before they left the manavarai. This is to ward off evil.
May the couple live a blessed, happy and prosperous life.