VEDIC VIVAH SANSKAR
Commentator: Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM
A Vedic Vivah is a Sanskar. A wedding solemnized according to the Vedic rites is a Sacrament. It is not a contract which may be rescinded at will. In a Vedic Vivah, the matrimony is for both spiritual and physical benefits. A man and a woman choose to come close to each other and take on special responsibilities to improve self and society. They take a solemn vow to procreate and raise children who achieve social efficiency.
By entering into a marital tie up, the bride and groom discharge their debt to parents. The Pitra Rin stands fully paid up.
Matrimony is for Happiness. A happy man and a happy woman make others happy. Happiness indeed begets happiness. So, our motto is:
GET MARRIED AND STAY MARRIED. Allow me to quote from VEDIC THOUGHTS: ``Equality between spouses in marital affairs has been the hallmark of the Vedic way of life.’’ A man and his wife are Friends. Their prayer to Prajapati, The Almighty is: ``MAY WE EVER BE IN LOVE.’’ Let us go through the important landmarks of a Vedic Vivah.
JAI MALA In the days of yore, kings and captains used to organize `Swayamvars’ where the princess would choose her life partner after observing his miraculous martial feats. Thus martial art and marital vows went hand in hand. Devi Sita garlanded Shri Ram, Draupadi chose Arjun and Samyukta tied the nuptial knot with Prithiviraj Chauhan. In the Vedic society women had freedom to choose their husbands and vice versa.
Ved Mantras are recited to invoke the blessings of Param Pita Parmatma, the Almighty. The bride takes the lead and garlands the groom, the groom follows suit. One may ask why should the bride take a lead in the Varmala , garlanding , and why should the groom not garland first ? Well, generally speaking, the groom is an invitee at the brides house and, therefore, it is the bride who welcomes the groom by garlanding first. Moreover, in a Swamvar, the bride has chosen the groom of her own free will, without threat or inducement, and by garlanding the groom first she makes her wish to wed him public. One may say that by this ritual, she has announced her intention from housetop. The guests and relatives bless them. They now move to the mandap – the vedi or sanctum sanctorum – where Vivah Sanskar – Vedic wedding will be solemnized.
WELCOME The bride and her people make the groom and his people comfortable by offering an ``aasan,’’ a comfortable carpet piece or mat to sit on. It is the bride who personally invites the groom to be comfortable, to wash feet with water is offered there. She offers him water to wash face with ``Argha jal.’’ She again offers water for ``aachaman’’ – sipping water from cupped hand to refresh himself.
MADHU PARK The bride offers to the groom semi solid edible concoction called `Madhu Park’. It comprises yogurt or curd, honey or purified butter or ghee. It is for health and happiness. The groom sprinkles a part of the Madhu Park in all four directions signifying a desire to share the goodies with one and all.
When the groom looks at the Madhu Park he recites a mantra saying ``Like God, with the help of the sun pulsates this universe with life, I shall, after consuming Madhu Park be in the pink of health and attain longevity.’’ While the groom is holding the vessel of Madhu Park and mixing the three ingredients, he recites three mantras praying to Parmatma for harmony all around him enabling him to gel with nature. May air, water, weather and seasons sun and rain, cows and other animals bring sweetness and joy. He partakes of it thrice eulogizing the health promoting madhu park as the finest and the sweetest grain.
The final phase is giving away a cow or its cash equivalent by the bride to the groom signifying cultural and economic importance of cow in the social system. Further, the bride’s father is indeed concerned about the health of his daughter and son-in-law. Cow’s milk is indeed Amrit (nectar). Hence, this ritual is of importance.
PANIGRAHAN The bride and groom voluntarily and willingly accept each other as equal partners in the life’s journey. In sections of society, under the influence of dark ages, Panigrahan is named as "Kanya Daan" or giving away The Girl. It is a grave error. In the Vedic Wedding it is Pani-Grahan - the two Hold Hands to share joys and sorrows of life. The groom presents clothes to the bride and say: "O damsel! May you live with me until the old age. Now put on, please, the dress that I present to you. May you live long to be a centenarian. May your sons and your wealth not cross limits of honesty and integrity. Thereafter the groom himself dons a "Uttariya" – unsewn cloth across shoulder- and vows to be a centenarian while remaining within limits. He prays for name and fame all around, even among the learned ones.
Now for additional safety from fire and security, one man of groom’s side sits alert with a pitcherful of clean water. Likewise another man of groom’s side sits on the southern end of "Agni Kund" facing North.
A brother or a cousin of the bride sits near the `Vedi’ with puffed rice and Shami’ dried leaves in a winnowing basket. Sitting at the west end, he faces the east. At this stage the bride and the groom address the august assembly: ``O ye learned people assembled here in a Yajna – Shala, please know if for sure we too have chosen to live together in `Gristha Ashram’ happily. Our hearts are placid as water and joined together as water mixes with water. We are as dear to each other as the life giving breath is to the living being. We shall be happy together and love each other as a preacher loves the congregation. Our souls shall be in a union of love forever,’’ The bride and the groom hold each other’s right hand and aligning themselves with nature’s gift – air and water – and say : ``Like the sun draws water through its rays and bestows benefits to all, far and wide, may you and I, by the grace of God, be together in thought and action. May we be amenable to each other’s counsel and ever be favourably disposed towards each other. At this juncture what the groom, inter alia, prays for is: ``the learned bride, with the blessings of God, should have `compassion’ for both man and animal. May she give birth to brave sons. May she not be averse to ``niyog’’ that is, if and when necessary in union with``Devar’’ (one who with the religious sanction deputises for the husband), procreate to preserve and protect the ``dharma,’’ the path of righteousness. May I, the groom, follow suit.’’
The Bride prays: ``May the path to my husband’s home be level and wide and I enter unencumbered by sorrow generating disease.’’ (The Vivah Yajna’’ incorporating Rashtra Bhrita Yajna is performed for making our nation strong and powerful. The individual and the nation are indeed interdependent.) JAYAHOM is for success of the nationhttp://www.aryasamaj.org
PRATIGYA VIDHI The six mantras of mutual love and dedication. The bride and groom take a vow to live together until old age and have unflinching faith leading to love. They shall ever be amenable. We shall live like husband and wife hereafter. God, our creator and preserver, and the learned assembly of men and women are witnesses to our Vivah – eternal bond of love.
The groom makes his intention of receiving the bride and holding her hand forever. ``I am your husband and you are my lawfully wedded wife. Let us two be together in carrying out the house chores. We shall not lead a promiscuous life. We shall give birth to and raise finest children and ever promote peace and prosperity.
The groom addresses the wife as `Prajavati’ – one who will beget finest children. He affirms his pious intention of remaining faithful to her. We shall be centenarians. Likewise the bride affirms that none but he will always receive her loving care and attention. Thus both take a solemn vow not to steal the affection of a third person – never to entertain amorous thoughts out of wedlock. The prospective couple promise to look after each other’s creative comforts and give gifts of fine clothes, attractive jewellery. This state of bliss will beget fine children.
The `Grih ashram’ that is the second stage of life which the bride and the groom are entering now, will be at its zenith when the two do all they can to provide a fine future to their progeny. The bride and the groom promise to each other that they shall NOT cheat on each other. Let us be of help to each other, to keep the ``third person’’ out for good. Mutual love and togetherness will cement our ties and bring bliss.
PERAMBULATION The groom holds the bride’s right palm and helps her get up. Both go round the Yajna kund once. Standing at the original position they recite a mantra to take a vow: the groom says ``I, in command of my senses, knowingly and willingly accept thee. Likewise, knowingly and willingly you accept me. Whereas I am Samved, you are Rigved. You are earth I am sun. We voluntarily and delightedly marry and beget progeny. May our offspring live long until old age – be centenarians and remain in command of senses. The bride follows suit.
STEPPING ON ROCK Bride’s stepping on the rock, called Shilarohan in Sanskrit, is a symbolic act signifying that she should be as firm as a rock. The road ahead is rocky; walk well, stumble not. It is her brother or mother who helps the bride ascend the rock. It is a gentle suggestion. Although she is leaving her maiden home and going to marital home, she may count on their help.
LAJAHOM (Offering puffed rice as ``Aahuti’’) It is a social and psychological ritual of importance. Like a paddy sapling is transplanted and then it blooms, a bride is transplanted from parental home to a marital home where she blooms – blossoms. The puffed rice is a symbol of that.
The `lajahom’ ceremony is a symbol of continuity. The Bride’s brother hands over puffed rice to her; she and the groom make an offering of it to the `havan fire’. The ritual makes them stick together through thick and thin. Further, the bride and the groom will participate in `havan’ and other Vedic ceremonies together. They are entering the Grahastha Ashram’ – to live as lawfully wedded husband and wife – perform their religious and social duties together. After every offering of puffed rice the couple make a parikrama (perambulation) of the `agni kund’ that is the fire. Mantras are chanted for the health and happiness of all concerned.
VENI MOCHAN The groom unlocks the locks of hair of the bride. Thus both stand released from rigours of the `Brahmcharya ashram’ – a life of celibacy for acquiring knowledge and receiving formal education. The groom chants two Ved mantras signifying graduation to the second phase of life. The groom releases the bride from parental home and formally initiates her into the marital home. Welcomes her as one who will beget bright and brilliant children.
GRANTHI BANDHAN Now the vivah sanskar is about to reach the climax. As a part of the preparation for the great moment, the bride and the groom tie the knot – the nuptial knot. It is a symbol of togetherness. It signifies a resolve to face the world together and solve problems.
SAPTPADI: SEVEN STEPS TO BLISS The bride and the groom now take seven steps together and move forward. The vivah sanskar is complete in the eye of the law when Saptpadi (seven steps) is done. Hereafter the couple shares joys and sorrows of life.
LOVE IS SHARING The seven steps of Saptpadi are: The first one:- Strive together for food. The two are indeed partners. It is a prayer to attain moral, mental, physical and financial capability to beget children. The second one:-For health and strength. Acquire unending energy. The third one:- Prayer for acquisition of wealth through righteous means. The fourth one:-For HAPPINESS. Let all our thoughts and action generate happiness. The fifth one:- Give birth to and raise healthy, happy and intelligent children. Begetting children is a sacred duty, enjoined on us by the Vedas. Shirk not, shun not. The sixth one:- Let us gel with nature. Let us be environment friendly. The seventh one:- Let us be friends – `Sakha bhav’ as is among equals. May we ever be in love. Sprinkling of a little water on the groom’s head by the bride is done for cooling effect. He recites mantras for both. Both chant a Ved mantra for a long life and take a look at the sun, if it is daylight. The groom touches his bride’s heart literally and figuratively. He says: ``I pray for compatibility of body, mind and soul. May you listen to me and act accordingly.’’ The bride says: ``May you and I have unity of thought and action. May you listen to me and act accordingly. The Almighty has enjoined on both of us to shun promiscuity and be faithful and loyal to each other. We shall be in LOVE.’’
The groom places his hand on the bride’s head and addresses the assembled guests: ``Kindly behold the bride and bless her before retiring to your quarters.’’ The blessings and flowers are showered and closing offerings (Aahuti) made to agni –fire. Thus blessed, the newly married couple retire for rest. The newly weds have the pitra rin in mind and move forward to take effective steps for Prajanan or procreation. It is both a religious and social obligation which should be fulfilled willingly and happily.
Address: Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM
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