Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ceremonies to solemnize a Hindu Marriage

Q: What ceremonies should be observed to solemnize a Hindu Marriage?

Hindu marriage can be solemnised according to the customary rites and ceremonies of either the bride or the bridegroom. Customary rites and ceremonies mean religious rites traditionally performed by the caste or community to which the bride or bridegroom belong. It should be shown that such custom has been followed definitely from ancient times and the members of the caste, community or sub-caste had recognized such ceremonies as obligatory. Rites and ceremonies consistently followed for more than 25 years within a particular community and had been uniformly observed and not discontinued at any point of time would be said to be customary rites and ceremonies for the solemnization of a valid legal marriage. According to the Arya Samaj rites, the invocation before the sacred fire and the sapthapadi are essential ceremonies.

Q: What is sapthapadi?

Sapthapadi symbolizes those aspects of life, which the parties to a marriage undertake to share in togetherness. The seven steps taken stand for the vows they make before the almighty. It is only on taking the seventh step that the marriage would be said to be solemnized

Q: Is sapthapadi, i.e., the custom of the bride and bridegroom taking seven steps, an essential part of a Hindu Marriage?

If the customary rites and ceremonies traditionally performed by the caste or community, to which the bride or the bridegroom belong, do not include 'sapthapadi gaman', it would not be an essential part of the marriage. If it is proved that 'sapthapadi', is not a part of the ceremony it need not be performed. Otherwise 'sapthapadi' remains an essential ceremony in a Hindu marriage.

Q: Would a marriage be valid on the observance only of sapthapadi?

Where 'sapthapadi' and invocation before the fire is observed, without observing the customary ceremonies, which are neither ancient and definite nor obligatory and unalterable, such marriage would still be valid.