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Hindu marriages are very traditional. Before the ceremony, the priest blesses the bride’s bangles and it is considered unlucky if she removes them before forty days after the wedding. The groom arrives with his family at his wedding party and is welcomed by the girl’s family. Some brides greet the groom by putting a flower garland around his neck after the girl’s mother has already done so. The groom may also choose to do the same.When the bride and groom go inside the temple, the priest calls for Ganesha’s blessing for success; followed by the Navgraha prayer (asking the blessing of all of the planets for peace and wealth). Then the maternal uncle and the sisters walk the couple to the mendap (wedding tent) where the girl’s father performs kanya danam (handing over ceremony to the priest). By spreading turmeric on her hands, she recognizes her change in status from a single woman, a daughter to a wife.The father then places his daughter’s dyed hand on the groom’s hand and he holds it as a symbol of everlasting love. By pouring out some of the sacred water, the father ‘washes his hands’ and gives his daughter away to the groom. At this point the groom recites Vedic hymns to Kama, the God of love, asking for the blessing of pure love. To prove that he is worthy, the groom promises to her father three times that he would with her help to realise light, wealth and true love. These are the great achievements in the Hindu world.To symbolise their union, the priest ties the garments i.e the girl’s veil to the groom’s shawl) while they stand facing each other before they exchange flower garlands and gold rings.Seven is an important number in Hinduism. Once the garments have been tied the bride and groom walk around the fire seven times asking for God’s blessing. During the performance the priest offers magree (a pungent mix of sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice, ghee and twigs). The magree is thrown in the fire while the couple walk around the fire. The sister of the bride (or another female relative), reads a passage from the Holy Scripture.The ceremony of The Seven Steps is the most important part of the ceremony. This is when the couple walk seven steps together, either forwards or round the fire. At each step, they both ask for the following blessings:1. May the Lord lead us to nutrition2. May the Lord lead us to strength3. May the Lord lead us to wealth4. May the Lord lead us to the source of all bliss5. May the Lord lead us to good children6. May the Lord lead us to enjoy all seasons and a long life7. May the Lord lead us to union, loyalty and friendship.This includes with a prayer that the union is for life. At the end of this, that they will be husband and wife.The husband then stands over the right shoulder and touches his heart (Hradayaparsh) as he declares his vows.”I hold your heart in serving fellowship and your mind follows my mind.In my word, you celebrate with all your heart. You are joined to me by the Lord of all creatures!”A gold chain with black beads (mangal sutra) is tied around the girls necks. Some Hindus use threads with the marks of the Hindu gods, Vishnu or Shiva instead (Mangal Sutra Dharana). To show that they are married, the husband puts red powder (sindhoor) in the middle of his newly wed wives hair. This tradition comes from the north-east of India.The groom’s parents welcome the new bride to the family after blessing the couple.They offer the newly wed couple cloth and the guests shower them with flowers to ward off evil.That is the traditional way of a Hindu marriage.Muslims often have arranged marriages. The parents of the boy propose to the parents of the girl. Although it is believed that parents are the best judges and will find a good husband or a wife for their child. The children must agree as well because there is no point getting married if you don’t get along with the person you are marrying.There are 3 parts to a modern Muslim marriage, the Nikah (Agreement to marry), the Thail Mehndi (hen night and stag night) and the walima (party from boy’s side). The Thail Mehndi is performed before the Nikah followed by Walima.However, in a traditional Islamic wedding there is the Nikah and the Walima only. In both receptions it is advised to ensure it is done as simple as possible with no debt incurred in order to have a grand wedding. In some marriages the bride is quite young and she doesn’t have to live with the groom until she is older.A Muslim girl normally wears a shalwar-qameez, which has heavy embroidery in gold thread woven all over it.Nowadays once the parents agree to get their children married they invite family and friends to celebrate (Thail mendhi). During the celebration singing and traditional customs like putting henna on the bride’s hands and giving money to the bride takes place. Although the grooms family is invited he is not. Similarly arrangement is also made for the boy where the bride is not invited.Arrangements are also made to perform the Nikah. This is done by inviting family and friends and an Aalim (a priest or a pious person) and two witnesses. During the early part of the ceremony the Aalim recites the Khutbah (sermon) of Nikah and recites verses from the holy quran. The verses are usually about how important it is to ensure the marriage vowes are adhered to and the duty of the couple to each other. Then the priest and two witnesses approach the bride who at this stage is located away from the groom. The Aalim asks the girl three times if she accepts the groom’s hand in marriage. Only if she agrees does the Aalim proceed. If at this stage the girl refuses then the marriage does not take place.Once the bride agrees to marry, she has to sign a marriage certificate in front of the witnesses who also sign the document. Then the Aalim and witnesses go to the groom and ask the same questions. He also has the opportunity to refuse at this stage. When the groom agrees the Aalim recites verses from the holy quran and the groom repeats the verses. He then signs the marriage certificate, only after both parties have agreed then the marriage is consummated. Once this is done families of both sides embrace each other and the feast is opened to the friends, relatives and guests.At this stage the bridge comes and sits next to the groom and is offered some food.There is a party after the wedding called a Walima. The boy’s family invites the girl’s family, friends and relative. Sometime over 800 guests are invited and the tables are set 3 or 4 times to accommodate all the quests. The marriage may have started at 1 0′ clock but some of the guests don’t get served until three hours later. Also in traditional weddings the men are segregated from the women. A stage is set up where the bride and groom are seated with their immediate family members.A Muslim wife has many rights, which are agreed in the wedding contract. Prior to the wedding an agreed amount of money (Mahr) is acknowledged by the boy’s parents. This money is given to the bride when she gets married by the groom. In some cases brides decide not to accept the money. This money is a kind of security for the girl in Islam if unfortunately the marriage breaks down and results in seperation.This is the way of an Islamic MarriageIf I were in the position of marrying a man I would say this for my vows: I love you ………… and I know that you love me. For years I have prayed that God would lead me to the right man, and now that day has come. I promise to be faithful to you. I will love, serve, and obey you as long as we both are alive.

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