An Arya Samaj wedding is all about simplicity and elegance.
Indian wedding rituals are mainly based on the religion or community that a family follows. Based on Hindu Brahmin weddings, Arya Samaj wedding rituals place a high emphasis on deities like Agni and Surya over Hindu Gods like Krishna, Shiv and Vishnu. Weddings in Arya Samaj are performed as per Vedic rites and thus do not require any flamboyance. In fact, modesty and humbleness is the main essence of Arya Samaj wedding!
If you're curious to learn all that entails an Arya Samaj wedding, then we have you covered! Scroll down and learn all about the wonderful and majestic Arya Samaj wedding rituals and the traditions that they follow.
Arya Samaj Wedding Rituals
Source Ramit Batra Photography
The Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayananda Saraswati in 1875 and has had a distinguished name in Indian society since then. Renowned and respected, the Arya Samaj marriage is based on the Vedic culture and traditions and you can opt for it to celebrate your bond.
While there are many pre-wedding functions in an Arya Samaj Wedding, you do have a few nowadays like Sangeet, Haldi & Mehndi. They're just a form of adding a little extra fun to the celebration. Apart from them, here are their wedding rituals and customs.
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Kicking off the pre-wedding celebration is the Mehndi function. Though traditionally, Mehndi isn't a part of Arya Samaj weddings, couples nowadays celebrate a bright & festive mehndi function with their friends and family. It usually takes place a day before the wedding, during the day, when Henna or mehndi is applied to the bride's hands and feet. Furthermore, almost all other females present also take part in the henna application and get mehndi applied to their hands.
The mehndi designs consist of floral and geometric patterns with lines and various kinds of motifs adorning the bride's hands and feet. It is said that the darker the mehndi design looks later, the stronger a bride's bond will be with her husband.
Source The Wedding Files
Sangeet is the most happening function of the entire wedding. It's an Arya Samaj wedding ritual where both the bride and groom's families come under one roof to dance to their heart's content. In literal terms, Sangeet means 'sung together'. Earlier, both families would come together and dance and sing traditional songs on the dhol. However, sangeets have evolved a lot now and it's all about getting together to dance to the latest Bollywood numbers. Most of the time sangeets have choreographed dance performances from both sides, with some heartwarming and fun performances. It's the best way to release all that wedding planning stress, loosen up and have a lot of fun with your loved ones.
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The haldi ceremony is a very important function that is held either in the morning of the wedding Before the couple is married, they go through the Haldi ceremony, which is where their families gather to spread the oil, water, and turmeric over the couple. The mixture goes everywhere, over their skin and clothes, and is believed to bless the couple. The added benefit of the ceremony is the exuberant glow the bride and groom have thanks to the haldi. It can be held on the morning of the wedding or even the day before.
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In an Arya Samaj wedding, the Bhramhabhoj is a ritual that takes place on the morning of the wedding. This formal occasion is when Bhramin are invited for a feast in both the bride and groom's homes. It's considered an auspicious way to start any wedding celebration in the Arya Samaj.
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Chuda & Nath
Most North Indian Arya Samaj weddings have a ritual where the bride's maternal uncle gifts her a set of bangles, which is the bridal chooda, and a nose ring or a bridal nath. The chooda consists of 21 bangles as 21 is an auspicious number for them.
Swagat Vidhi & Varmala
In an Arya Samaj wedding ritual, the ceremony begins with the bride welcoming the groom to the Arya Samaj marriage temple to get the ceremonies started as per the Arya Samaj marriage process. Following this, the bride and groom chant holy Vedic verses while exchanging the jaimala. The bride puts the garland around the groom first. The jaimala ceremony symbolises the public acceptance of their new relationship.
The Madhuparka ritual is where the bride gives the groom water 3 times- once over his feet, once on his body and then the third time to drink it. The groom repeats the same procedure with the bride. Then, the groom eats a pious mixture of honey, curd and cream called Madhuparka after offering it to the almighty. This ritual in an Arya Samaj wedding is a beautiful act of love between the bride and groom.
In the Arya Samaj, the groom is supposed to wear a sacred thread around his wrist which is tied by a priest. The tread is symbolic of the groom's transformation from a boy to a man and a responsible householder. During this, many Vedic hymns like the Gayatri mantra are recited while worshipping the holy fire. This also marks the transition of the couple to Grihastha Ashram from Brahmacharya.
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Following the Yagna ritual, the Kanyadaan is performed by the parents of the bride. The father of the bride places his daughter's hand into the hands of the groom. This ritual represents the notion that henceforth the daughter's responsibilities fall upon the groom (her husband).
Havan & Godan
Arya Samaj worships the holy fire instead of idols. The sacred fire burning in the middle of the mandap serves as a witness to the union of the bride and groom. The priest brings with him all the elements required for performing the wedding rites. The Havan is usually followed by the Godan ceremony. This Arya Samaj wedding ritual involves gifting a cow or calf to the priests as alms. However, nowadays, instead of a live cow, the equivalent amount of money is gifted to the priests.
Pani Grahan Sanskar
The couple then performs the Pani Grahan Sanskar together by holding hands and chanting mantras with the promise to love and care for each other and their needs, throughout their lives. Following this, the bride and groom take one 'parikrama' around the holy fire together.
Shilarohan is a ritual in the Arya Samaj wedding where the bride's mother places the bride's right foot on a stone while the groom chants mantras given by the pandit. The ritual symbolises a strong and solid bond between the bride and groom, just like the rock. It also represents a prayer made by the couple to strengthen their relationship for the challenges of life they may face.
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Following the ritual of Shilarohan, the Lajahom ritual is performed. It consists of puffed rice (murmura) being offered to the Agni. The bride and groom place their hands on each other and the brother of the bride pours puffed rice into their grasp which they then offer to the agni.
Also Read: A Deep Dive Into Telugu Wedding Rituals
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Phere or Parikrama
Source The Wedding Story
After all the above-mentioned Arya Samaj wedding rituals are performed, the bride and groom take four rounds of the agni or sacred fire. The end of the bride's saree is tied to the groom's ‘angavastra’ in three knots by the groom’s sister following which they take their pheras. The bride prays for the long and healthy life of the groom while the groom vows to protect and care for her under all circumstances- each phera symbolises a promise between the couple.
Kesh Mochan, Saptapadi & Hriday Sparsh Mantra
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Kesh Mochan is the tender ritual where the groom opens the bride's hair, allowing it to flow freely. As he does this, mantras are recited and vows taken during the pheras are repeated by them.
After the Kesh Mochan, the couple takes seven steps, also known as ‘Saptapadi’, followed by one more circle around the fire. This time, the couple walk side by side, hand in hand. After the Saptapadi is done, they then put their hands in each other's hearts and make a promise to love and be loyal to one another always.
Sindoor & Mangalsutra
Similar to all other Hindu weddings, Arya Samaj weddings also have a Sindoor and Mangalsutra wedding ritual. During this, the groom applies vermillion (sindoor) on the bride's forehead. This is the official ceremony that declares the couple as man and wife. At the end of this ceremony, the groom ties the Mangalsutra around her neck. They feed each other sweets and once this ritual ends. the wedding is considered valid for all intents and purposes.
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Following the final Arya Samaj wedding ritual is the Surya Darshan. The Surya Darshan or the Sun greeting ceremony is where the bride and groom step out to worship the all-powerful sun together to receive blessings for a long life of health and prosperity.
Akhand Subhagyavati & Ashirwaad
Source Ami Robertson
For the Akhand Subhagyavati, married women from the bride’s family come forth to wish her eternal happiness which is followed by Ashirvaad. Ashirvaad is the Sanskrit word for blessings. So, after the marriage ceremony is properly over, the bride and groom seek the blessings of all the elders of the family. Blessings are showered upon the couple to live their lives happily, with love and prosperity thereon.
Dhruv Darshan is the ceremony in Arya Samaj where newlyweds view the Dhruv tara (Pole star) together to be blessed and inspired by the paragon of constancy and loyalty. The Dhruv tara is forever a constant in the universe and symbolises the constancy of a newlywed's strong bond.
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Source The Wedding Files
The final celebration of an Arya Samaj wedding is a reception party. It's just like every other reception ceremony in the world of weddings. In this, all the guests are invited to come together for a grand feast thrown by the families of the bride and groom. Often, there's music and dancing involved. An Arya Samaj wedding ritual generally takes place in the Arya Samaj Temples or even in designated Arya Samaj marriage halls.
Once the reception is over, the Arya Samaj draws to a close. Post the completion of the wedding, the couple get their hands on the Arya Samaj marriage certificate as well. Be as that may, Arya Samaj weddings are about the celebration of traditional rituals that bring two people together. They are very culturally grounded while keeping up with the times that let modernity trickle in while celebrating the amazing union of a couple!