Iyer Marriages - Rites & Rituals - 5
22. Wearing of toe ring by the bride (Puranic)
22. Wearing of toe ring by the bride (Puranic)
This is yet another ritual which has no Vedic mantras. The toe ring (3 in number for each leg) is worn to the bride by the sister of the groom. .In Ramayana when Rama asks Lakshmana to identify the ornaments of Seetha , he identifies only the Noopura which is worn in the ankles. He tells Rama that the only part of Seetha he has seen is her feet. Though Noopura denotes anklets, some authorities identify it as toe ring and claim that this was an ancient ritual.Possibly this was worn to identify a married woman in ancient times.
23. Prayer while tying the string made of Dharbha (Vedic)
The next ritual is tying a rope made of Dharbha grass around the hip of the bride by the groom. He does this by reciting the following prayer: -
Oh fire God, please give a stable and composed mind to this maid, who is going to join me in worshipping you. Let her not get perturbed by anything from now onwards; let her beget lot of children, wealth, grains and house. Let her also get a lustrous pretty body. For getting all these I am tying her with this rope made of dharbha.
24. Groom leading the bride in front of the fire.(Vedic)
The groom then leads the bride by catching her right hand to the mat spread in front of the fire facing east. The bride should sit on southern side and the groom on the northern side of the mat.
"Let God Poosha hold your hand and take you near the fire. After performing the sacrifices in the fire let the Aswini Devas (Doctors of Gods) permit you to come to my house in a cart. If you come after taking permission from them, my family and me will lead a healthy life. After coming to my house. you would become the queen (boss) of my house. And then you should encourage me to do several religious fire sacrifices."
According to Vedic rites this is the first time when the groom holds the hand of the bride. Nowadays this is the second time, the first being while he leads her to Oonchal (swing). According to some people, this sloka also indicates that the groom and bride are supposed to live in their own house and not with the family of groom's parents. It is not clear when the joint family concept came in to India.
25. Agni Muhoortham or holy fire ritual. (Vedic)
After doing Namaskaras to the fire The groom recites the following prayers:-
You (the bride) was had by Soma (the moon) in the beginning .The Gandharva had you after wards from him. Then the Gandharva gave you to fire. That fire is now giving you to me along with wealth.
The God Soma liked this maid first. Then she was with Gandharva and later the God of fire liked her. After being had by all these gods, I am the first human being to have her. So because Soma, Gandharva and Agni (god of fire) have already given her wealth and capacity to have children, me and this maid will have all the good fortunes in this world.
Naturally this is prayer is not well understood. Possibly it indicates that she was innocent like a baby (moon) attractive as a maiden (gandharva) and enticing and sensual as fire (agni). Some authorities are of the opinion that these slokas indicate that the Vedas did not approve pre puberty marriages. Though the Sanskrit words indicate that she was married by moon, gandharva and Agni in turn, some people interpret the word as "looked after" not "married"
26. Pani Grihanam (Vedic)
Literally this means "holding of hands. Because this is the first most important Vedic ritual, scholars believe that this should be done during the auspicious time. Normally the bride folds fingers her right hand fingers into a conical form upwards and the groom holds it in his hand folded downwards by surrounding all her fingers.( One authority says that " If he holds her hand leaving her thumb then they both will have only female children and if he holds only her thumb leaving out the fingers , then they will have only male children).The following prayers are recited by the groom:-
Hey maid, I am holding your hand so that you will have several good children and live happily with me till ripe old age. The God Aryama has given you to me to lead the life of a householder.
The gods Bhaga and Agni were leading this life before me with you and have now given you to me for the purpose of raising my family.
Hey Goddess Saraswathi, you are blessed with all the luck, riches and food and so we who have held our hands today, hope to get riches and pleasures by your blessing. I announce this loudly in front of all so that you will definitely bless me.
Hey Maid, Let Vayu (god of wind) who has the capacity to travel in all directions, who keeps a gold coin in his hand to give to those who pray him and who is the friend of fire God (Agni) who has the capacity to purify everything as well as the capacity to make raw food eatable, enter your mind and make you love me for every minute of our future lives.
27. Saptha Padhi (Vedic)
Literally this means the "seven steps". Courts in India have ruled that this is the most important ritual of a Hindu Marriage. They consider that unless this ritual is completed the marriage itself is not over. According to Vedas, once this is over the bride and groom become wife and husband. This ritual consists of the groom taking the right foot of the bride in his left hand and making her take seven steps either in the direction of east or north. The following prayers are recited: -
Let God MahaVishnu who is spread through out the world, Give you food in plenty
Let Him come with you for a second step and give you sufficient strength
Let Him come with you for a third step to make you observe all religious rituals.
Let Him come along with you for the fourth step to give you pleasures
Let Him be with you when you take the fifth step to give you lot of wealth (cow)
Let Him lead you the six stages of life with happiness and welfare
Let him help you in performing Soma Yaga and other prayers when you take the seventh step
The following requests are to be recited by the groom to the bride after she takes the seven steps:-
"You who has taken the seven steps with me should become my friend.
We who have taken the seven steps together would live as friends.
I should get your friendship, Oh maid.
Oh maid, I should never get parted from your friendship.
We who have attained each other, should get lustrous health, serenity, peaceful mind, and should enjoy together the food and all other tastes.
We would plan all things that are to be done in future together.
Let us both make our two minds in to one.
Let us enjoy together all the physical and mental pleasures together from now onwards.
Let us do all religious observations together."
Then again the groom tells the bride:-
"You are the Rig Veda and I am the Sama Veda
I am the Sama Veda and you are the Rig Veda (recited twice for emphasis)
Like these two Vedas we should never separate from each other. We also will not get separated.
I am the world Dyu and you are the earth (dyu is the world above. This indicates that she is below him and should obey his wishes).
I am the material called Shukla (semen) and you are the wearer of this in your womb.
I am the mind and you are the word
I am Sama Veda and you are the Rig Veda
I am telling this because I have lot of care for you.
Please bear me male children in future,
Hey Maid come with me."
Once the prayer and the grooms request is recited the bride becomes groom's wife and joins his family (Gothra)
28. Parinayam and Pradhana Homam (Vedic)
The wife and husband now circle the fire and are seated in front of the fire. The wife sits on the south side and the husband sits on the north side. The wife keeps touching the husband while he does the following 16 Ahuthis (pouring of Ghee in to the fire) with the following Manthras: -
1,2,3. This offering is poured for soma who had this maid. This offering is poured for the Gandhrava who had this maid. This offering is poured for the Agni (fire God) who had this maid.
4.This maid has come out from her father's family where she was a maid and joined my family. I am pouring this offering so that she is excused for the sins she has committed as a maid.
5.Hey Indra, who grants all desires. Please free this maid from her father's family' Please tie her strongly to my family .She is future should develop attachments to my family only. Please make her a part of my family and make her bear male children to me, through her.
Hey Indra , who grants all desires .Please remove the attachment this girl has to her father's family. Please make her affectionate to my family. Let riches, grains, cows and good luck increase in my family.
6.Hey Indra, who grants all desires, Please make this maid have good sons and make her fortunate. I should beget ten sons out of her and I should become her eleventh son.
7.Agni, who is an important deva, should come here. He should prevent infant death to all her children. To ensure that she will not shed tears because of the early death of her children, God Varuna should agree with Agni to prevent the children's death. For this purpose I make this offering in the fire.
8.Let Agni save this maid from all future troubles. He should give long life to all her children. If her organs are not strong enough to bear a child , he should cure this and help her get children. He should give her the happiness of cuddling her children in her lap in the early morning.
9.Hey bride, there should not be any more crying in your house in future. Let all those demons that cause unhappiness desert you. Let those demons that enter the homes and terrorize women should not come to her house. The Gods should prevent you from beating your chest with disheveled hair. I am pouring this offering to help you do all these.
10.Let your behind be protected by the God of Sky; Let your thighs be protected by Vayu; Let your breasts be protected by Aswini devas; Let your sons be protected by Savitha and till you wear clothes; Let you be protected by Brihaspathi.
11.I am giving this offering in the fire so that all the causes which stand against the birth of a son and those which cause the death of a sin in you are removed from you. Like the wilted flowers that you wore on your head was removed and thrown,, Let God remove all such defects in you and transfer them to your enemies.
12.Oh Varuna, please hear this prayer and give me all pleasures just now. As soon as I ask you should give me pleasures. I want to be saved by you only and hence I am praying you,
13.I am reciting this Vedic prayers and surrender to you so that I can save myself. People who do this worship are doing so to save themselves. Hey Varuna, you should help me complete this task, which I have taken up. So please do not rob allotted years from my life.
14.Hey Agni, Help me by reducing the anger of Varuna towards both of us. You who is the greatest among those who are worshipped, you who takes the offering given by us to devas gently and who shines with luster should remove from us all those hateful qualities.
15.Hey Agni, You who are the greatest among all those devas who are worshipped and is the cause of existence of the devas, should save us when it is the dawn and also during daytime. You should be very near us always .You please prevent Varuna from coming to us and troubling us. You who give us all pleasures should consume the offerings given by us. Please come when we call you. And also help us to become happy when we call you.
16.Hey Agni, you are suitable of devotees attaining you and also you attain the devotees directly. And because of that you are suitable for attaining by mind .Hey Agni, because you can be easily attained by devotees, I am meditating on you using my mind and beg to get your blessings.
Hey Agni, you who can be easily attained by devotees should receive from us the offering to different devas and give it to the concerned devas. Also please give us the capacity to demit our sins.
29. Asmarohanam, Lajahomam and Agni Pradakshinam (Vedic)
This is a combined ritual First the husband and wife circle the fire and reach near a stone kept at the north side. The husband holds the thumb of the right leg of the wife by his left hand and places it on a stone. Both of them go near the fire and take their seat. The husband then helps his wife to offer the handful (both palms of the wife are held together .Her brother also takes two hand full of popped rice) of popped rice along with small quantity of ghee given to his wife by her brother to the Agni (fire).Then they circle the fire and repeat this ritual thrice. Though not mentioned in the Vedas, it is a common practice for the husband to give a suitable present to his wife's brother for helping them in this ritual. Normally this should be equal in value to the present given by the bride's family to the groom's sister during Mangalya dharanam for tying the two knots.
The prayer to be recited by the husband while placing the leg of his wife on the stone: -
"Hey bride, please climb on this stone. You should become as stable as the stone in your mind. When some body wages a war at you, you should be boldly oppose them and insult the enemies."
The prayer while putting popped rice in to the fire for the first time: -
"This lady is praying a long life of hundred years for her husband. Please fulfill her desires."
The prayers while circling the fire for the first time: -
1-3.Hey Agni, When the world began, you were given the daughter of Surya (sun god) along with wealth for marriage. Now please give this wife to me so that we can beget children.
Hey Agni, since you have married the daughter of Surya, all the girls in this world are in your custody. So for begetting children, I pray you to bless me by giving a blemish less wife.
4.Hey Agni, please give me a wife who is very attractive and with long life.
5.Hey Agni , bless us to cross like water all problems in our life .
Then he should keep the leg of his wife on the stone second time with the same prayer as of the first time.
The prayer while putting popped rice in to the fire for the second time:-
Maids worship the God Agni , because he is easily pleased and gives them their desires. Oh Agni, she prays you to remove her bonds with her parent's house and also at no time remove her bonds from my house. Hey Agni, performing this offering of popped rice has benefited several maidens. Please accept her offering and fulfill her prayer.
Then they circle the fire and step on the stone once more and make the offering of popped rice for the third time.
The prayer while putting popped rice in to the fire for the third time is: -
"Hey Agni, you have been always in charge of food and the maidens, who are the path of heaven. And because of that you give maidens to us. Please make us both of the same mind and opinion. For this I am pouring ghee into you similar to the water being given to the tree.
Hey , Agni, the portals of heavens through fire sacrifices are not open to those who do not have a wife. You are the giver of the maidens to us. Please make us both of the same mind and opinion. For this I am pouring ghee into you similar to the water being given to the tree."
30. Removal of the Dharbha string from the wife.(Vedic)
The husband recites the following prayers and then unties the dharbha string he has tied earlier...
1. I free from the rope tied by Lord Parameshwara who ties this rope of Varuna for all the good-minded beings, I give you the position of pleasure with me to you in the world of Brahma.
2. I free you form the string of Varuna tied by the Lord Parameshwara who gives blessings to his devotees. You can live with me in Brahma loka where the blessed go and be with me without the fear of the rope of Varuna.
31. Jayadhi Homam (Vedic)
This homa is performed at the end of the main Homa for successful completion of the function and for a prosperous living. It is not a specific marriage ritual but is performed as a prayer on similar occasions.
These prayers and fire sacrifice was done by Indra when he went to war with Asuras as taught by his teacher Brihaspathi. It consists of 13 prayers. This is followed by 18 prayers with offering in the fire to the devas and ancestors which are meant to increase knowledge and Brahminical sathvic qualities. This is followed by 12 prayers, which are for the benefit of the country we live. Another three prayers called Vyahrithi homa, Swishtakrith homa and Prajapathi homa follow these.
After a total of 48 offerings to the fire, the fire from the Homa is preserved in a new mud pot and is taken by the wife to the Pravesya homa which takes place in the husband’s home. She is also supposed to keep and guard this fire carefully all her life.