Hindu Marriage Ritual – Vivah, a right of passage

By : Surinder Jain.

A rite of passage with yajna ceremony often marks a Hindu wedding.

Vivaha (Vivāha, Sanskrit: विवाह) is the rite of passage and rituals associated with marriage. While there are many rituals in Hinduism, vivaha (wedding) is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life.  The wedding rites and ceremonies begin with the engagement of a couple, and extend to rites of passage after the completion of wedding. They are typically very colorful, and celebrations may extend for several days. The detailed rituals and process in a Hindu wedding vary. Nevertheless, there are a few key rituals common in Hindu weddings – KanyadaanPanigrahana, and Saptapadi, which are respectively, giving away of daughter by the father, voluntarily holding hand near the fire to signify union, and taking seven steps with each step includes a vow/promise to each other before fire. The Vivaha sanskara is essentially a Vedic yajna ritual, with recitation of Vedic hymns. The primary witness of a Hindu marriage is the Vedic fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni, in the presence of family and friends.

Post-wedding rites of passage include Grihapravesa – the welcoming of the bride to her new home by groom’s mother, father, brother(s), or sister(s), and other relatives. Chaturthikarma – literally, “the rite performed on the fourth day after wedding”, is the rite where the first domestic fire is lit marking the food-related householder life of the new couple.

Honeymoon, or the act of first sexual intercourse after the wedding is known as Nishekam (Sanskrit: निषेक).