The institution of Hindu wedding, can be traced back to Vedic times. The ceremony is usually held on a day in the "bright half" of the northern course of the sun. A few months before the wedding an engagement ceremony or "Mangni" is held. During this ceremony, the families get together exchange gifts, bless the couple and announce the date of the marriage. For a Hindu love before marriage is not very important. The elders, considering the family caste, background, status and the bride/grooms character, mostly arrange the Hindu wedding. Though love marriages are today accepted, it is still frowned upon to marry inter-caste.
The Hindu wedding is extended over a period of four days. The actual wedding, according to Hindu rituals takes place in the bride's house. The groom comes along with his close friends and relatives and the bride's family receives them with a great feast. It is considered highly inauspicious if the groom returns from the bride's house without marrying the girl. After the wedding has been solemnized, her mother and female relatives bid the bride a tearful farewell. This is because according to Hindu rituals, after the wedding, the bride belongs to the family of the groom and his house becomes hers. On their arrival at the groom's place, the groom gives another feast. During this feast, the new relatives welcome the bride with gifts of jewelry and clothes. The third day is for introducing the bride to all the relatives and friends of the groom. Her dowry is displayed and accepted by her new family. The nuptials are consumed on the fourth day of the Hindu wedding. This comprises of a number of rituals like bathing in turmeric, drinking milk, dressing up etc. to arranging the nuptials room with flowers. To the Hindu love starts on that night.
The wedding rituals are briefly described below:
Vara Satkaarah - reception of the bridegroom and the bride's mother blesses the groom with rice and tilak of vermilion and turmeric powder.
Madhuparka Ceremony - bestowing of presents to the groom by the bride's father
Kanya Dan - the bride's father gives away his daughter
Vivah-Homa - the sacred fire ceremony
Pani-Grahan - the groom accepts the bride as his lawfully wedded wife
Pratigna-Karan - the couple walk round the fire and take Hindu wedding solemn vows
Shila Arohan - the mother of the bride prepare the bride with counsel for the new life
Laja-Homah - rice is offered to the sacred fire by the bride
Parikrama or Pradakshina or Mangal Fera - the couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act
Saptapadi - the couple take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.
Abhishek - sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and the pole star.
Anna Praashan - the couple make food offerings into the fire then feed a morsel of food to each other
Aashirvadah - Blessings by the elders