Weddings are a celebration of love and commitment, and can also be a celebration of the couple’s religion and culture. Here is a Hindu wedding ceremony – Jasmin and Kevin.

The wedding date is determined in the stars.

Before the wedding, an auspicious time (known as the muhurta) is fixed for the event. Using the bride and groom’s dates of birth, astrologists calculate the position of planets and stars to reflect the celestial union of the couple. During the ceremony, the gautra of both bride and groom (going back at least three generations) are announced. A gautra is the ancestral lineage or the ancestor’s original clan (this is not related to caste or religion). In Hindu law, marriages should not take place within the same clan.

DAY 1

The Bride’s hands and feet are adorned with henna paint during a Mehendi ceremony.

During the mehendi ceremony, henna is used to apply intricate designs to the bride’s hands and feet. The mehndi ceremony usually takes place one day before the marriage will be held, as the application can take hours.

Prior to the actual the wedding, there’s a pre-party called the sangeet, which translates to “sung together”, where family comes together to sing, dance and revel in the joy of the upcoming union. Family members even give performances! The bride’s family sings a traditional folk song to the groom’s family to welcome them.

DAY 2

Day two started with Kevin’s getting ready in his room with family and friends.

Jasmin’s getting ready was colorful and lovely.

The wedding mandap is a temporary structure constructed for the purpose of the marriage ceremony. It is decorated with anything from flowers and greenery to fabric and crystals.

… and have fun everywhere you go!

The ceremony begins with a prayer to Ganesha, the god of beginnings and good fortune and the remover of obstacles. Salutations are offered so that Ganesha may pave the way for the couple’s married life.

In the center of the mandap, or wedding altar, a fire is kindled. A Hindu marriage is a sacrament, not a contract. To signify the viability of the ceremony, fire is kept as a witness and offerings are made. The bride’s brother gives three fistfuls of puffed rice to the bride as a wish for his sister’s happy marriage. Each time, the bride offers the rice to the fire. This offering is known as a homam.

This is the part of the ceremony during which the bride and groom exchange floral garlands. This expresses the desire of the couple to marry each other. The groom places a necklace of black and gold beads on the bride. Traditionally, Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity, is invoked in the mangala sutra and the bride is said to receive blessings throughout her marriage.

The ring ceremony usually follows.

Just married! Best wishes on this wonderful journey, as you build your new lives together.

The bride wears a red dress. In Indian culture, red symbolizes the rising sun, prosperity and fertility.

DAY 3

What can be more beautiful than two hearts becoming one, guided by the greatest feeling in the universe?!

Wishing you many years of loving each other as much as you do now! I believe in your marriage with all my heart