Tuesday, June 23, 2009



Each householder should have an ideal daily routine. The home life should not be left to itself, but taken care of. In addition to those unexpected things that come up every day—a visit of someone, a telephone call, an invitation to go out with someone—every one of you should have an accepted basic programme, a basic schedule for your daily life, which should include an hour of prayer in the morning and an hour of prayer in the evening. The prayer hour might include the reading of scriptural texts, the reading of sacred and inspiring spiritual books, a few minutes of quiet, indrawn meditation, a few minutes of actually articulated prayer, inspiring prayer. The prayer can be spontaneous; it does not necessarily have to come out of some book. Or it can be both, as there are some very inspiring short prayers in the Gospel and also in some other books. The children should also be trained in this way.

There should also be some actual act of external worship. After all, we are embodied creatures and we wish to exercise our bodies also in devotion. When you are in a state of worship, the body also should take on the attitude of worship. You should light a candle, burn a little incense, bow before the Deity, offer supplication, ask Him to enlighten you, to fill your heart with virtue, fill your heart with divine love, goodness and selflessness, and then, bowing low and with genuflection, kneel, press down with your forehead. In this way, you have to humble yourself in the presence of God. Then, as the body genuflects, prostrates and humbles itself, the influence of those little acts has a chastening effect upon the mind. We cannot become completely heedless to these reactions of the body upon the mind and the mind upon the inner spirit. Therefore, each day, you should have an hour when you have scope for the exercise of all these several aspects of your being—for the exercise of the body, the heart and the feelings in prayer; for the exercise of the mind and the intellect in study, reflection and enquiry; and for the exercise of the spirit in inner contemplation, silence, indrawnness and meditation.

Each member of the family should have a private altar. The mother should have her own nook or little corner, where she has her own little prayer, little conversation with God, little asking for guidance, little intimate communion with God. The husband, likewise, should have a little altar for himself, and if this cannot be had, at least he must have some time for himself, when he communes with the Maker individually. And the children should be trained right from the very beginning to have such separate little corners for themselves. Just as they have one corner for their toys, another for their books, a third for their pets, so they must have a corner for their own communion with the Most High, and if this habit is developed from childhood, then later on, they will be able to have their own independent spiritual life.

—Swami Chidananda



Householders should not forget even for a moment that marriage is a sacred thing. The sanctity of married life has to be realised in all its fullness and in all its seriousness. Marriage is a sacrament. It is not just the union of two bodies. That is the least important part of it. The husband and the wife should not think there is absolutely no love above their physical life. There is a love.

Marriage is the bringing together by God (through some mysterious law which operates in this universe) of two souls in this vast, vast phenomenon called life in this vast stream of existence where countless millions of souls are moving in their individual planes of spiritual evolution towards the Divine. Through the Grace of God, through the Divine Will, and through the operation of certain laws that govern this universal life, two souls are brought together. That is the meaning of marriage.

Through the coming together of these two souls, God means an important process to be worked out and that is the sharing of the spiritual impulse between the two. What they have earned, what they have learned, and their spiritual potential—the husband and the wife are to share. The husband is to enrich the spiritual life of the wife and the wife is to enrich the spiritual life of the husband and both are to go hand-in-hand toward the Supreme Attainment of the Divine Consciousness. That is the true, inner meaning of family life.

Marriage is sacred. It is not to be treated lightly. It is not to be considered in a vulgar sense. Marriage is an alliance which is for something more than mere physical enjoyment, for something more than even the all-important purpose of the propagation of the race (though, to a limited extent, this is also a purpose of marriage). The offsprings of the husband and the wife are also to be spiritual beings, because they are other souls coming into this earth-plane to work out their own evolution. It is therefore, the sacred duty of the husband and the wife to provide an ideal home and the proper initial impulse to these souls that come as their children. The children are to be held in trusteeship for a while until they grow up and go out into the world. The growth and development of the children will be in accordance with their own spiritual nature, with their own spiritual evolution, with their own Karma which they have brought with them; yet, the mother and the father can give a great deal from their own lives to the initial spiritual unfoldment of their children until the children attain a stage when they can themselves mind their further spiritual evolution. If healthy spiritual ideas are implanted in the young minds from the early age, they are bound to sprout forth at a later stage and bring blessedness to the children.

And, as the children are to be brought up to respect the law of celibacy, of continence, until they are actually married, so the husband and the wife should adhere to the law of continence and celibacy; and for them, this law should operate in the form of a strict moderation of marital life.
Marital life should be based upon self-control, not upon indulgence. Then, the wife should regard the husband as the only partner and vice versa. The wife should not have any other male and she should not think of any other man, but should be devoted to her husband; no thought of any other man should ever cross her mind. All the rest of humanity should be to her like children—she is the great Mother. The husband must have the vow which Rama had—the vow of the single spouse. That means that the thought of another woman will never enter his mind. To him, the only woman is his wife and their marriage ties are sacred. In this way the whole family set-up becomes sacred and holy and the interior life of the spirit goes on unhampered. There is nothing in the exterior life of the being to injure the spiritual life. There is nothing in the exterior life—either in the family life or in one’s personal life to hold back or obstruct the spiritual life.

And thus, both husband and wife go in perfect harmony, and their lives, on the dual wings of exterior activity and interior prayerfulness, go to the ultimate blessed state of supreme God-consciousness—Divine Realisation. Blessedness becomes theirs, in and through their family life, wherever they are.

—Swami Chidananda



(1) Yoga At Home

Sometimes the house becomes a hell when there is no religious unity between husband and wife. If the husband is religious, the irreligious wife does not allow him to study religious books, to sit in meditation, to visit holy places of pilgrimage, to practise Brahmacharya and to have Satsanga with great souls. She is afraid that he will become a Sannyasin even though he gives a solemn pledge that he will not do so. There are always quarrels in the house between husband and wife. The husband has no peace of mind even though he earns a decent sum and has got all the earthly comforts. The wife threatens the husband, “I will burn all your religious books as study of these books has only produced a change in you and you are neglecting me and do not take any interest in household affairs. I will throw stones at the head of the man who has written these books and has inspired you to take recourse to Yogic practices. Fools only will practise Yoga”. How can men live happily with such ignorant and irreligious women? It is better to dwell in the midst of Asuric women like Tataka in the forest than to remain in the company of such horrible women who disturb the peace of the house. If your wife stands in your way of doing spiritual practice mildly suggest to her that you will take to Sannyasa. Then she will come to her senses.

It is the duty of the husband to train his wife also in the religious line. She must do some Japa, and Kirtan. She must study religious books such as Ramayana, Bhagavata and Mahabharata. She must take recourse to occasional fasting. He must take her to places of pilgrimage and attend discourses and Kathas conducted by Mahatmas. The wife must help the husband in his religious and Yogic practices. Then only the house will be a blessed place.

Some have taken Sannyasa on account of the bad behaviour of their wives and their hindrance to Yogic practices at home. If they allowed their husbands to continue their practices and helped them, they would have remained in the Grihastha Ashram. It is the duty of intelligent girls to co-operate with their husbands in leading a religious life at home. Then only can both lead a life of peace and happiness at home. The scriptures declare, “Without religion a house is a burial ground though it is a palace.”

The husband also should not interfere with the religious practices of his wife. He should help her in all possible ways in her spiritual evolution and purity of life.

May there be temperamental, psychological and spiritual unity between the husband and wife! May the husband help the wife and vice versa in religious and Yogic practices! May God-realisation be your watchword! May purity be your maxim! May Dharma be your guide!

(2) To Husbands And Wives

Quarrels arise daily in the house between the husband and the wife on account of misunderstanding and difference of opinion. The wife thinks that the husband should obey and please her in all respects. The husband thinks that the wife should obey and please him in all respects. Is this possible? No. And so they quarrel every hour. It may not come into regular fisticuffs and blows at all times, but they will not speak for some hours in the day. Sometimes there will be boxing and caning also if the husband is short-tempered and lacks self-control. At other times the husband breaks the vessels when he loses his temper. If the wife is like Xanthippe (wife of Socrates) or Jijibai (wife of Tukaram), the table will be turned. There will be thunder and rain on the husband’s head. Sometimes the wife, when she becomes angry, refuses to cook the food and lies down in the bed drawing a blanket over her body and head under the pretext of severe stomach-ache. The poor husband runs to the hotel to take his meals in order to catch the pilot train to go to his office. Sometimes the wife goes to her mother’s house without informing the husband. The poor shameless weak-willed husband runs to his mother-in-law’s house to bring her back with fresh glowing, golden promises and entreaties.

The wife must be ever ready to receive a volley of abuses when the dishes are not prepared to the fastidious taste of her husband. These are only minor, unimportant causes for daily quarrels. The major causes are too numerous to be mentioned here. You already know them in full and in detail also.

But still, if you ask a householder, “Which is better; a householder’s life or a life of a Brahmachari?” surely he will say “Householder’s life is thousand times better than the life of a celibate”. He will vehemently fight with all his clumsy arguments to support his view. Do remember the story of the king who took birth as a pig and was rejoicing with his piglings. His case is similar to this king.

People have neither discrimination, dispassion nor subtle sharp intellect. Hence they are not able to know things in their true light. Their intellects are clouded, perverted, turbid, intoxicated and veiled by passion, delusion, infatuation and ignorance. Hence they do not know what they are exactly doing.

When they are swayed with passion, husbands and wives forget all about their quarrels which occurred in the morning. They think that their life is a blessed one. They utter pleasantly some flowery speech for the time being, though there is no real union and love in the core of their heart.

Try to possess self-control. Rise above passions. Be pure. Develop good behaviour, good conduct. Control anger. Be regular in Japa, Kirtan, meditation and study of Gita. Lead a life of ideal householders.

O Ram! Treat your wife like a Devi. She is the queen or Lakshmi of the house. Where woman is honoured there is wealth, prosperity, success and peace. O Lila! Become a Pativrata. Do not quarrel with your husband. Become like Savitri, Anasuya or Sita.

May you all lead a life of Purity with devotion and attain the supreme blessedness in this very life!

—Swami Sivananda

Monday, June 22, 2009



I will tell you a very, very easy method of Sadhana by which you can attain God-consciousness even while you live in the world amidst multifarious activities. You need not have a separate place or room and time of meditation. Close your eyes for a minute or two once in every two or three hours and think of God and His Divine qualities such as Mercy, Love, Peace, Joy, Knowledge, Purity, Perfection and so forth during work and repeat mentally HARI OM or SRI RAM or RAM RAM or KRISHNA KRISHNA or any Mantra according to your liking. Feel that the body is a moving temple of God, your office or business house is a big temple or Vrindavan and every activity such as walking, talking, writing, eating, breathing, seeing, hearing, etc., are offerings unto the Lord. Work is worship. Work is meditation.

Give up expectation of fruits and idea of agency (I am the doer. I am the enjoyer). Feel that you are an instrument in the hands of God and He works through your organs. Feel also that this world is a manifestation of the Lord or Visva Vrindavan and your children, wife, father and mother are the images of the same Lord. See Him in every face and in every object. Have a cool balanced mind always. If you develop this changed angle of vision and Divine Bhava in dally life by protracted and constant practice, all actions will become Yogic activities. All actions will become worship of the Lord. This is quite sufficient. You will get God-realisation quickly. This is dynamic Yoga. This is very powerful Sadhana. I have given you a very easy Sadhana.

Write daily for half an hour in a notebook your Ishta Mantra, observing Mowna and without turning to the other sides. Write down in bold types on slips of paper “SPEAK TRUTH”, “OM PURITY”, “I MUST REALISE GOD NOW”, “ IAM AN EMBODIMENT OF PURITY, MERCY, LOVE, AND PATIENCE”,—and fix them in bedroom, dining hall, front-rooms and verandah. Keep some slips in your pocket and diary also. This is an easy way for developing virtuous divine qualities.

May the Lord bless you all!

—Swami Sivananda



Duties of a Woman

Manu says “Let a woman attend to her household duties most cheerfully and with great dexterity, keep her utensils and apparel clean, her home tidy, her furniture free from dust, all eatables pure, clean and free from dirt. Let her never be lavish in expenditure. Let her cooking be done so nicely that the food may act on the system like a good medicine and keep away disease. Let her keep a proper account of income and expenditure and show it to her husband, use her servants properly and see that nothing goes wrong in the house.” (Chapter V-50).

“Let the husband and the wife read and recite the Vedas and other Shastras that soon give increase of wisdom, teach the means of acquiring wealth and promote their welfare. Let them also carefully revise what they have studied during their student life and teach the same. As far as a man thoroughly understands the Shastras, so far as can his knowledge advance and so far may his love for them grow.” (Manu IV-19, 20).

She should do such noble actions which would please her husband and would bring him glory, honour, faith in God and the final attainment of God-consciousness. She should be humble, active and straightforward. She should have a knowledge of the duties of the Grihasthis. She should herself do all the works of the house. She should know cooking well.

She should respect all her husband’s relatives. She must serve her old mother-in-law and father-in-law. She must do prostration to old ladies in the house, father-in-law, mother-in-law, Sadhus, Sannyasins and Bhaktas. She must give alms to poor people, Sannyasins and Brahmacharins when they come to her house. She should give blankets and clothes to Sannyasins. She should treat the guests and friends of her husband with respect. She should invite them for dinner on auspicious days. She should serve poor and sick people, Sadhus and Sannyasins. She should be charitable and spend one-tenth of her husband’s income in charity. She should cut the coat according to the cloth. She should never live beyond the income of her husband. She should never borrow. She should make both ends meet. She should never allow the expenditure exceed the income of her husband. She should have a very large heart, she should get up at four in the morning and practise meditation. She should wake up her children also at this time and make them do Japa and Kirtan.

The sleeping apartment must be furnished with the pictures of saints, Rama, Krishna, Narayana, Siva. Husband, wife and children will draw inspiration when they look at the pictures. The child in the womb is influenced by the sentiments and emotions of the mother. If she studies daily Ramayana or Bhagavata and leads a pious life during her period of pregnancy, she will give birth to a noble and pious child.

Napoleon’s mother always kept with her pictures of Greek and Roman heroes and sang songs of these heroes. Thus the heroic spirit was created in Napoleon while he was dwelling in the womb of his mother. Abhimanyu learnt the way to go inside the Padma Vyuha (Chakravyuha) when he was in his mother’s womb.

Mother is the first Guru. The child learns the alphabet from the mother. The child learns to speak from its mother. She maymake him a saint or a ruler or a rogue. She imparts her virtues to her child with the milk.

—Swami Sivananda



Radiant Immortal Soul!
Blessed Couple;
Jai Sri Ram! May God bless you!

Upon this very happy and auspicious day of your sacred marriage, I pray to the Lord to shower His grace upon you both and grant you happiness, health, prosperity and success in life. I am very happy to give you this little message about the greatness and glory of married life and the sanctity of the home of a house-holder in the Grihasthashrama. This message, I give in the name of Parama Pujya Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj invoking his blessings and Guru-kripa upon you both. Receive this message with earnest attention. You will be greatly benefited.

The significance of married life is great indeed. Fortunate indeed is that couple who start married life with right understanding of its importance and greatness. Marriage is a sacred spiritual partnership between two souls who have come upon this earth to evolve an ideal life of nobility, virtue and Dharma and attain their goal of divine perfection through such ideal life. Therefore, the home of the married couple is a sanctified centre of spiritual life. The home is their place of worship, prayer, spiritual Sadhana and daily meditation. The cultural ideal of your holy motherland, Bharatavarsha, regards this second stage of a person’s life, namely, the Grihasthashrama, as the sacred field for the practice of noble virtue, Paropakara and Dharma and for the awakening of your true inner spiritual nature. You are Divine Atman. You are not merely a physical creature or a mental-intellectual being but you are a spiritual being far superior to the lesser biological and psychological aspects of your temporary human personality. You are divinities without birth or death. Your eternal, imperishable, immortal, spiritual nature must be realised and experienced in this very life. To attain this wonderful experience the wife and the husband must help each other. They are mutual helpers in this grand adventure of ideal living and spiritual unfoldment.

The home is a sacred arena for the attainment of self-conquest and self-mastery which is more thrilling than the scaling of Mount Everest. The daily life of the Grihastha and his Grihalakshmi must be the sublime process of manifesting their inner divinity and expressing it outwardly through thought, speech and action. Lead this divine life. Truth, purity and universal love and compassion constitute the basic foundation of such divine life. The essence of divine life is selflessness and Seva, devotion and daily worship, concentration and regular meditation and to discriminate between the real and the unreal, the divine and the undivine, between the spiritual and the unspiritual.

Blessed couple! May you both lead such a divine life! Feel that your house is the abode of God. Make God the most important factor in your life. Give God the central place in your daily life.
God who is the Lord of the universe is the master of your home also. Feel it a sacred privilege to be servants at His feet. Tell Him with deep feelings, “I am Thine, all is Thine, nothing belongs to me. Thou art everything O Lord. Bless me to worship You and to serve You in and through all beings.” Feel God’s divine presence always in your home. Feel that you are doing everything to please Him, to glorify Him.Make your home the holy house of prayer. Both of you must worship together, pray together and glorify God together. Uphold Dharma. Love and respect each other. Evolve the life of harmony, beauty and mutual regard. Develop noble character. Let moderation and a wise self-control be the keynote of your life in all things. Create a sublime spiritual atmosphere within the home. Shine with lofty virtue. Let your life be an inspiration to other young couples. Make such an atmosphere at home that one who enters your homemust feel at once inspired and elevated. Such is true success in life. In such a home Satya-Yuga will prevail. Kali-Yuga cannot enter there. Such a home is Vaikuntha on earth. Such is the glory and greatness of Grihasthashrama.

Always regard your married life in its correct perspective and recognise its sanctity, spirituality and divinity. This is the wisdom. This is the way to joy, peace and blessedness. This is the secret of spiritualising all your activities and living Yoga in daily life. Thus the home-life will become the gateway to immortality, spiritual perfection and divine realisation. Verily, Grihasthashrama, when it is rightly understood and nobly lived, becomes the great portal to eternal blessedness and liberation. Our salutations and adorations to ideal married couples who are visible divinities and worthy of our worship. In that home where dwell the Pativrata Nari and her loyal and devoted husband like Bhagavati Mother Sita and Maryada-Purushottama Lord Rama there the Devatas from Devaloka come to offer worship and feel themselves sanctified. All the sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati abide in such an ideal home. That home is sacred like Varanasi, Prayaga, Ayodhya, Mathura and Dwaraka. May this world be blessed by such ideal married couples, and such sacred houses of ideal Grihasthashrama! I wish you joy and peace. May your life be radiant like the shining sun and bring light into the lives of many others!

Hari Om Tat Sat!

With regards,

Prem and Prayers for your highest welfare and happiness,

at the feet of Sri Gurudev,
(Swami Chidananda)

Typical South Indian Brahmin Wedding

Typical South Indian Brahmin Wedding

My wedding was a typical Hindu Brahmin Wedding conducted in Trivandrum, Kerala – My hometown. It started on August 23rd morning at around 7:30 am and ended on 25th afternoon at around 12:00 pm. Over these two day, I went through all the rituals and ceremonies performed in a brahmin wedding. It was fun and pretty tiring too.

I guess it would be interesting for some to read about the the key events of a Brahmin Wedding.

The marriage ceremonies begin with vratham performed separately by the bride and the groom. For the bride, it means the tying of the kappu, the holy thread on her wrists, which is meant to ward off all evil sprits. It symbolizes a kind of protective armor for the bride.

For the groom vratham begins with invocations involving the Gods Indra, Soma, Chandra and Agni. From thereon the groom prepares himself for a new chapter in his life as a householder or grihasta. The days of his bachelorhood or brahmacharya are over now. The acceptance of his is all what the vratham is about.

Janavasam & Nischaiyartham
Inviting the groom to the ‘mandap’ and sorting out any differences between both families. This is a very important aspect of the marriage where any differences between the families are sorted out. This ceremony takes place in a temple. The bride’s family brings turmeric, betel leaves, nuts and clothes for the groom. The bride’s brother then garlands the groom, and sugar candy is distributed to all present. The groom is then escorted to a decorated car and the family leaves in a procession for the ‘mandapam’.

Once the procession reaches the marriage venue, the bride is led outside by her close friends to get a glimpse of her future husband! ‘Aarthi’ is performed and a coconut broken to ward off evil. The groom is then led to the ‘medai’ (an elevated place in the ‘mandapam’ where all the ceremonies are performed). Members of both families sit opposite each other and a ‘lagna patrika’ (marriage contract) is written and read aloud by the ‘pujari’. ‘Thamboolams’ (platters of betel nuts, dry fruits, nuts, coconuts, turmeric and ‘kumkum’) and gifts are exchanged. The cone shaped ‘parupputhengai’ (a special sweetmeat) is an important part of all these ceremonies.

Kasi Yatra
This is a very important part of the ceremony. Immediately after his student life, the young bachelor has two alternatives before him – Grihasta or Sanyas. Being by nature in a satwic state due to strict adherence of bachelorhood and observance of austerities, he is drawn towards asceticism. Therefore he makes his way to Kasi, complete with slippers, umbrella, a fan made of bamboo etc. On his way the bride’s father intervenes and advises him of the superiority of married life to an ascetic life. He also promises to give his daughter as companion to face the challenges of life.

Dressed in the traditional ‘panchakatcham’, holding an umbrella, a fan, a walking stick, and a towel containing ‘dal’ (lentils) and rice tied to his shoulder, the groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage. As he steps out of the ‘mandapam’, the bride’s father pleads with him not to go to ‘Kashi’ (a sacred pilgrimage site in the city of Benaras) and marry his daughter instead.

After much ado the groom accepts and returns to the ‘mandappam’ to get married! The umbrella is to remain with the groom, to remind him in the future of this advice. As promised his wife stands by him in his life.

Malai Mathal
The bride and groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective maternal uncles. This is an expression of continuing sibling support to their mothers. And in that position the two garland each other thrice for a complete union. In the shastras, the exchange of garlands symbolizes their unification, as one soul in two bodies. It is inward acceptance by each of the very fragrance in the other.

The marrying couple is seated on a swing. They rock forth and back, as women sing songs to praise the couple. The bride and groom are given a sweet concoction of milk, sugar and bananas to eat. Water and lighted lamps are circulated around the swing in order to guard against demons and ghosts. Colored globules of cooked rice are waved in a circular motion and thrown away to propitiate the evil spirits.

The chains of the swing signify the eternal karmic link with the Almighty. The to and fro motion represents the undulating sea-waves of life. Yet in mind and body they shall move in harmony – steady and stable.

Pallikai Seeds Sowing
This is a fertility rite. Pallikais are earthern pots prepared a day earlier. Pots spread at the base with hariali grass and Bael leaves (vilvam). Nine kinds of presoaked cereals are ceremoniously sown in these pots by sumangalis. After the marriage, the sprouted seedlings are released in a river or pool. This ritual invokes the blessing of the eight direction quartered guardian angels (Ashtadikh Paalaks) for a healthy life and progeny to the couple.

Kanya Danam
Giving away the bride. The bride is made to sit on her father’s lap and is given away as a gift by him to the bridegroom. In the bride’s head, a ring made of Darbha of Kusa grass is placed. And over it is placed a yoke. The gold Mangal Sutra or Thali is placed on the aperture of the yoke. And water is poured though the aperture.

The mantras chanted at this time say:

Let this gold multiply your wealth, Let this water purify your married life, And may your prosperity increase. Offer yourself to your husband.

The symbolism of the yoke is drawn out of ancient rural life where the only mode of transport for households was the bullock cart. It is supposed to signify that just as a bullock cart cannot run with just one bull, the marriage needs both the bride and groom. Both of them have to face their responsibilities together.

The bride is then given an auspicious ablution. A new sari, exclusive for the occasion, called the koorai is chosen. The colour of the koorai is ‘arraku’ i.e. red, the colour associated with Shakti. This sari is draped around the bride by the sister of the bridegroom, signifying her welcome to the bride. A belt made of reed grass is then tied around the bride’s waist. The mantras then chant:

She standeth here, pure before the holy fire. As one blessed with boons of a good mind, a healthy body, life-long companionship of her husband (Sumangali Bhagyam) and children with long lives. She standeth as one who is avowed to stand by her husband virtuously. Be she tied with this reed grass rope to the sacrament of marriage.

Thanksgiving vedic hymns follow, to the celestial caretakers of her childhood, the dieties of Soma, Gandharva and Agni. Having attained nubility, the girl is now free to be given over to the care of the human — her man.

The vedic concept underlying this ritual is figuratively that in her infancy Soma givers her the coolness of the moon. In the next stage of life the Gandharvas gave her playfulness and beauty. And when she becomes a maiden Agni gave her passions. The father of the bride while offering his daughter chants:

I offer ye my daughter: A maiden virtuous, good natured, very wise, decked with ornaments to the best of my abilities. With all that she shall guard thy Dharma, Wealth and Love

The bridegroom returns his assurance to the bride’s father saying three times that he shall remain for ever her companion in joy and sorrow, in this life and life after.

Kankana Dhaarana
The bride ties a string fastened to a piece of turmeric around the wrist of the bridegroom to bind themselves by a religious vow. It is only after tying the kankanam that the bridegroom gets the right to touch the bride. A little later, the bridegroom ties a kankanam to the bride’s wrist.

Mangalya Dharanam
The tying of the Mangal Sutra or Thali takes place at exactly the pre-determined auspicious hour. The bride is seated over a sheaf of grain-layden hay looking eastward while the bridegroom faces westward. The bridegroom puts the gold Mangal Sutra around the neck of the bride. As he does so the Nadaswaram is played loud and fast so as to muffle any inauspicious sounds at the critical hour. This is called Getti Melam. Sumangali ladies sing auspicious songs. At the same time as the mangal sutra a turmeric thread is also put around the bride’s neck. To this three knots are tied. The first one by the bridegroom. The other two knots are tied by the groom’s sister to make the bride a part of their family. The vedic hymn recited by the bridegroom when he ties the knot is:

I pray to the Almighty that I be blessed with a long life. I tie this knot around your neck. Oh Soubhagyawati, may providence bestow on you a fulfilling life of a Sumangali for a hundred years to come!

Paani Graharam
This means holding hands. The groom holds the hand of the bride. The mantras say:

The Devas have offered you to me in order that I may live the life of a Grihasta. We shall not part from each other even when we grow old.

Saptha Padhi
Holding the bride’s hand the bridegroom walks seven steps around the holy fire with her. This is the most important part of the marriage ceremonly. And only when they walk these seven steps together (i.e. perform the saptha padhi) is the marriage complete. With each step they take a vow. The belief is that when one walks seven steps with another, one becomes the other’s friend. The mantras said at this time mean:

Ye who have walked with me, become my companion, whereby I acquire your friendship. We shall remain together – Inseparable. Let us make a vow together. We shall love, share the same food, share our strengths, thesame tastes. We shall be of one mind. We shall observe the vows together. I shall be the Sama and you the Rig. I shall be the upper world and you the earth. I shall be the sukhilam and you the holder. Together we shall live, beget children and other riches. Come thou, o sweet worded girl.

Pala Dhanam
Gifts are exchanged between the families of the bride and groom. Any gift not accompanied by a token gesture of a coin of small denomination that represents the stored value of human effort is considered incomplete; thus respecting the value of human effort through which wealth is acquired. Also no gift shall be taken without a return gesture, which merits the gift received. Pala Dhanam as ordained by the scriptures is thus an action signifying mutual arrangements between the families, to be based on the principle of equality and respect for each other irrespective of one’s economic stature in life. The return gesture by the family of the groom could never equal to the gift of the bride given to the groom. Hence, the same coin given to the groom’s family is returned to the bride’s family an acknowledgment of the priceless gift received.

Pradhana Homam
A crucial part of the wedding is the homage paid by the couple to Agni, the God of Fire. They couple goes around the fire, and feed it with ghee and twigs of nine types of holy trees as sacrificial fuel. The fumes that arise possess medicinal, curative and cleansing effects on the bodies of the couple. Agni, the mightiest power in the cosmos, the sacred purifier, the all-round benefactor is deemed as a witness to the sacred marriage. Hence the term ‘Agni Saakshi’ or witness by fire.

Treading on the Grindstone
Holding the bride’s left toe the bridegroom helps her to tread on a grindstone kept on the right side of a fire. The mantras chanted say:

Mount on this stone, and let thy mind be rock firm, unperturbed by the trials and tribulations of life.

This ritual is symbolic of the solid rock foundation for the union.

Arundhati and Dhruva Star
Next the groom shows the bride the star Arundhati (from the Saptha Rishi or Great Bear constellation) as also Dhruva or the pole star. Arundhati is the wife of the Vashishta Maharishi and exemplified as the ideal wife – the embodiment of charity. Dhruva is the one who attained immortality through single-minded devotion and perseverance. This is symbolic of the fact that such virtues are to be emulated throughout marital life.

Laaja Homam
This comprises the bride’s own offering into the sacrificial fire. As an expression of sibling support to her marriage her brother helps her. He gives her a handful of puffed rice grains which she hands to the bridegroom, who on her behalf, feeds it to the fire. Through this food offering, the bride seeks a long life for her husband and for propagation of her family. Participation of the bride’s brother indicates the continuance of links between the two families even after marriage. The couple circles the fire three times. The feeding of puffed rice to the fire is also repeated thrice.

Graha Pravesham
Taking with her fire from the Laaja Homam, the bride takes leave of her home and enters the new home of her in-laws. The vedic hymns recited at this time sound like the mother’s advice to her daughter:

Be the queen of your husband’s home. May your husband glorify your virtues! Conduct yourself in such a way that you win your mother-in-law’s love. And be in the good books of your sister-in-law.

The evening of the marriage day is the time to relax and play. The newlywed wife calls her husband for play, inviting him through a song. Much to the merriment of all gathered, there follows a series of playful games. The bride anointing the groom’s feet with colour paste, fanning him, showing him a mirror, breaking papads over each other’s head. Wrenching the betel pack from each other’s hands. Rolling the coconut from one to another as in playing ball and so on. During these events women sing songs, making fun of the bride, the groom and the in-laws.

These events bring out the qualities of the bride and the groom’s sporting spirit, kindness, co-operative nature thus surfacing the hidden traits for the other to note, thus bringing about better understanding and compatibility.

Shanthi Muhurtham
The consummation of the marriage at night fixed for an auspicious time for a happy, ever-lasting married life that is full of understanding and care. Two souls united in a sacred act of fulfillment, to bring forth progeny as nature’s best creation.

[ Source: Original article on the internet by Padma Vaidyanath ]


Telugu Marriage Rituals are generally observed by Hindu people who live in the region of Andhra Pradesh. These wedding rituals are full of rich symbolism with more stress on spirituality rather than on religion. The marriage usually takes place in any month with the exception of the months of Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya, which are considered inauspicious for weddings.


This ritual determines the auspicious hour at which the wedding will take place with the help of a learned priest.Weddings don’t usually take place in the months of Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya.

This ritual is akin to the haldi ceremony where the couple is anointed with turmeric and scented oils

Performed at the groom’s house, it is a sort of thread ceremony that involves making him wear a silver thread on his body.

Kashi yatra
During this ritual, the groom pretends to leave for Kashi, a pilgrimage center to devote himself to God and a life of prayer. He carries a walking stick and other meagre essentials with him to imply that he is not interested in becoming a householder. The girl’s brother intervenes and requests him to accept his daughter as his life partner and to fulfill his responsibilities as a householder The groom relents after which he is taken to the marriage venue.


Mangala snaanam
Mangalasnanam refers to the ceremonial bathing at an auspicious hour early in the morning of the wedding for the bride and the groom together so as to make them pure for the other sacred rites.

After the couple goes back to their respective homes, they are anointed with oil as an aarti is performed by their families.

Ganesh Pooja
Before the marriage ceremony is commenced with, Lord Ganesh is worshipped, as he is believed to be the remover of all obstacles.


The wedding ceremony begins with the ritual of Kanyadan where the father of the bride hands over his daughter to the groom, who is separated from the bride through a curtain that is placed between them. Then amidst the chanting of sacred Vedic shlokas, the couple applies a paste of cumin seeds (jeera) and jaggery on each other’s hands to symbolize that they are inseparable. Then the bride is accosted by ten married women, six of whom hold plates full of rice and turmeric powder while the rest four hold lamps that have been made from a mixture of rice flour, sugar and milk. The next step is the tying of the mangalsutra during which the curtain screen is removed, followed by the exchange of the garlands amidst the showering of flowers and turmeric rice. Then the couple takes seven steps together where the bride’s end of the sari is tied to the groom’s dhoti. The marriage ceremony finally culminates when the groom slips silver toe rings on the bride’s feet.


Grihapravesh marks the entry of the new bride in her husband’s home for the first time.

Uniting the mangalsutra
On the 16th day after the wedding, the two mangalsutras are combined together on a single thread

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A Tamil marriage ceremony is held over two days and is generally an occasion for all the near and distant relatives to come together. The Tamil community’s belief in simple living is reflected in their marriage rituals too, which are holistic in nature. According to rituals, a Tamil wedding cant be held in the months of Aashad (July 15th to August 15th), Bhadrapad (September 15th to October 15th) and Shunya (December 15th to January 15th), as they are considered inauspicious as well as Tuesdays and Saturdays. The Naathaswaram and the Melam are the two musical instruments, commonly found in Tamil Nadu that play an important role in all the Tamil marriage rituals.


Finalizing the marriage agreement

Once the match is finalized, an auspicious day is chosen to draw up the marriage agreement which is then placed on a plate full of bananas, coconuts and betel leaf. To mark the occasion, the girls is gifted a silk sari while the boy is also given cash or clothes by their respective in-laws.

Paalikali Thalippu/Karappu

Performed by the girl’s family, this ritual involves decorating seven clay pots with sandalwood paste and kumkum powder, which are then filled with curd and nine types of grains nava dhaanyam. Later they are watered by five or seven married ladies from both sides who are then presented with gifts. Next day, they are thrown in a pond in the fond hope that if any fish eats the grains that would have sprouted by now, then it would bless the couple.

Sumangali Prarthanai

Women who pass away before their husband are considered lucky and called Sumangali. This ritual involves praying to all the sumangalis to ensure that the would-be bride should also be blessed with such a fate and organizing a feast for married women and gifting them saris.


This is a bathing ritual performed separately at the girl and boy’s house where they are anointed with scented oils after which they are not supposed to leave their homes till the marriage.

Receiving the Groom and Family

The groom’s wedding entourage arrives a day before the wedding and is received amidst much celebration with a tray containing offerings of flowers, paan supari, fruits and mishri. The groom is specially welcomed by being speinkled with rose water and fed with sweets by the bride’s mother.

Nandi Devata Pooja

The Nandi Devta Puja is performed by five Sumangalis after which they present the couple with gifts of cloth.

Navgraha Pooja

This is performed to propitiate the nine astral planets that are said to rule over a persons’ destiny.


The Vrithim ceremony entails tying of the holy thread around her wrist while the groom prepares himself for his impending marriage and other responsibilities.

Naandi Shraartham

As a symbol of the souls of the ancestors of both sides, eight or ten Brahmins are invited. The two families seek their blessings and honor them with gifts of paan-supari, fruits, flowers, coconuts, sweets and dhoti-angavastram (clothes).


Janavasanam refers to the formal betrothal where the groom is first brought to the venue amongst lot os music and dance and is received by the bride’s family with 5 kinds of guests.


The bride’s parents perform a Ganesh Puja after which the girl comes and sits out. She is applied a tilak of chandan and kumkum and gifted a new sari by her the groom’s family even as the pallav of the sari she is wearing is filled with fruits, paan supari, turmeric, kumkum, coconut and flowers.



Mangalasnanam refers to the ceremonial bathing at an auspicious hour early in the morning of the wedding for the bride and the groom together where a aarti is performed by the ladies of the house. Then the bride and the groom go to their respective homes to bathe and dress.

Gauri Pooja

After bathing and dressing up, the bride prays privately to Gauriamma.

Kaasi Yatra

During this ritual, the groom pretends to leave for Kashi, a pilgrimage center to devote himself to God and a life of prayer. He carries a walking stick and other meagre essentials with him to imply that he is not interested in becoming a householder. The girl’s father intervenes and requests him to accept his daughter as his life partner and to fulfill his responsibilities as a householder The groom relents and is taken to the marriage venue.

Pada Pooja

The bride’s mother washes the groom’s feet on his return. Then she calls for her daughter who is escorted to the mandap by her maternal uncle.


The groom is led to the marriage mandap where he and bride exchange one of their garlands thrice to symbolize their unification. Then they are seated on a swing and offered milk and bananas by the elder ladies of the house who also throw colored rice balls in four directions to ward off the evil spirits. Then as they go back to the mandap, the father of the bride performs the ritual of Kanyadan and hands over his daughter to the groom who gratefully accepts the ‘daan’. Then the groom ties a piece of string attached to turmeric around his waist and the bride’s wrist after which she receives a new sari from the groom. As she leaves the mandap to change into her new sari, the ‘mangalsutra’ is blessed by all the elder of the family which the groom them places around his bride’s neck. The marriage finally culminates when the couple take sevens steps together. The couple then goes out the marriage venue so that they can spot the Pole Star and the star of Arundhati. On coming back to the mandap, the bride makes offerings of parched rice grains in to fire after which the groom puts on toe rings on his bride’s right feet. Then the couple drinks Panaham, a traditional beverage made with jaggery, cardamom and black pepper in water.


Nagoli Vasthra

This ritual involves the presenting the groom with a suitcase, new clothes, and a diamond ring


Grihapravesh marks the entry of the new bride in her husband’s home where she is welcomed with an aarti after which she enters the house by tipping over a jar filled with rice.

Sambandhi Virandh

This involves the exchange of gifts between the bride and the groom’s families.


This ritual is marked by the sister of the groom presenting a gift to her new sister-in-law after which the couple indulges in traditional wedding games.


The reception is hosted by the groom’s family where the new bride gets the chance to be acquainted with family and friends.

Bridal Night

On the wedding night, the couple is presented with an idol of Krishna by the bride’s mother as well as gifts. As they come out next morning, women of the house sing songs.


The family of the bride prepares an elaborate meal for the groom’s party. They also pack food for the bride’s new home (Kattusadam). A relative accompanies the bride as a chaperone, to her matrimonial home and comes back with gifts from the groom’s family.

Sadva pooja

In the groom’s house the next day, the bride serves the first spoon of “payasam” to women assembled for a Sadva pooja.

Sumangali Prarthanai

This is similar to the ritual held before the wedding involving married women but the only difference is that it is held in the bride’s new home now.

Maruvidu Varudal

This marks the visit of the newlyweds to the bride’s parents who shower the couple with more gifts.


It is a well-known fact that India is a melting pot of myriad different cultures and religions, which is what lends a unique flavor to this beautifully diverse country. Naturally, in a country with so much variety, one wouldn’t really expect the weddings to be similar in nature. Marriage Rituals in India are vastly different and lends a special significance to the occasion of the wedding.

Most of the marriage rituals in India have evolved from the ancient Vedic marriage rites. A look at the process of Vedic marriage is enough to see that how the different wedding rituals all share similar elements, and though the names might have changed, essentially they remain the same.

The Vedic Marriage consisted of the following steps:


As a girl/boy reach the appropriate age for marriage, their parents start looking for a prospective spouse by matching the horoscopes to see whether the Gunas of the girl and the boy matched or not.


Nischitartha refers to the confirmation of the alliance from both sides.


Ankurapana refers to the lightening of the ceremonial sacred fire of the yagna


It referred to the oblations made in to the sacred fire.


It is the graduation ceremony for the boy


It is a sacred thread ceremony that all men have to undergo before they are considered eligible for marriage. It involves wearing a white thread known as jynau on the upper part of the body.


Kashi Yathra was the indecisive journey of the groom as he set out for Kasi for sanyasa before the bride’s parents reminded him of his responsibility and brought him to the marriage mandap.


Considered one of the most sacred and pure sacrifices that a man can ever perform, this ritual involved the offering and giving away the daughter by her father to the prospective groom for marriage


Veekshanam is the auspicious moment at which the groom and the bride look at each other during the wedding ceremony.


It refers to the first physical contact between the couple as the groom takes the bride’s hand in his.


It refers to the seven steps that the couple must take together around the Agni signifies that the bride and groom go together in all the seven planes of consciousness in performing the dharma


This ritual marks the encircling of the ceremonial fire by the groom and the bride seven times.


This ritual involves placing a thread containing the marks of the Vishnu or Shiva in the neck of the bride by the groom.


It refers to the ritualistic trading on the grindstone where the bride is helped by her husband as she places her right foot on the stone and moves her foot against it.


Here, the couple gazes out together on the Arundhati star as a reminder to the pair about their cosmic responsibilities that they have to perform in the coming walks of life.


Grihapravesam marks the entry of the wife into her husband’s home for the first time


It refers to handing over the daughter to the groom after the marriage ceremony is over.


Sobhananu refers to nuptials which first take place in the bride’s own house followed by in the groom’s residence. It denoted the beginning of the sexual life of the couple.


It refers to the act of sex through which the mother becomes pregnant and gives birthto another life form or the Jiva.

Indian Marriages are highly unique and each community has its own set of rituals and rites that make these marriages different from the other while still retaining the basic essence of a Vedic marriage in accordance with the Indian traditions.