Sujata & Ani | A beautiful Indian wedding at B.R. Cohn Winery Sonoma
Wedding Venue: B.R. Cohn Winery Sonoma
Wedding Planning & Design: Anais Event Planning & Design
DJ: Wicked Entertainment
Videography: Studio MSV
Makeup: Styles by Ann
Cake: Let’s do Cake
Groom suit: Armani
Indian wedding dress: Anita Dongre
Photography: Karen Gorgon
HINDU WEDDING CEREMONY
Ganesha Pooja & Sankalpam
Any Hindu ceremony always begins with a prayer to Lord Ganesha, who is the remover of all obstacles and is the embodiment of peace, friendship and happiness. His blessings provide for an atmosphere of tranquility and harmony in which to perform the ceremonies. Sankalpam sets the stage for the ensuing pooja, specifically announcing the intention of the rituals, time, place, performers etc
At this point Sujata has already performed Gowri Pooja independently in her quarters with her family members before coming to the ceremony. Gowri represents purity and austerity.
Swagatam and Madhuparkam – Welcoming Anirudh
Anirudh arrives in a Baraat (lively wedding procession) to the rhythm of the dhol, accompanied by his family and friends. They are all received with fanfare at the entrance by Sujata’s family with naadaswaram music, flowers, aarati and sweets – symbols of happiness and good tidings to come. This ceremony is known as the milni or meeting in which equivalent relatives from the groom and bride’s families greet each other. It symbolizes the unification of the two families.
Kanya Agamana – Arrival of the Bride
Sujata is dressed in a white sari with a red border. White symbolizes purity and red represents strength. She is escorted to the mandap by family and friends carrying lamps. The lamps are made of rice flour, sugar and milk – symbols of prosperity, light and sweetness that Sujata will bring to her new home. When she reaches the mandap, she sits facing Anirudh. A veil or antarpat symbolizing traditional barriers is held in front of Anirudh to prevent him from seeing Sujata, symbolizing their separate lives up until the moment of marriage.
In the Brahma Vivaah, the highest form of Hindu marriage, Sujata’s parents “give away” the Bride as one of the noblest acts they will perform in their lifetime. In essence, Sujata’s parents are handing over Goddess Laxmi (their daughter) to Lord Vishnu (Anirudh). This is where Sujata’s family hands over their daughter’s responsibility to Anirudh. This is their greatest gift to him and is done by placing her right hand on his right hand. Anirudh accepts Sujata’s hand with honor.
Thereafter, Sujata’s parents wash Anirudh’s feet, as a gesture of respect because on the day of the wedding the Bridegroom is considered as “Lord Vishnu” himself who has come to marry their daughter who is considered as Goddess Lakshmi. Anirudh is made to chant a shloka* three times and thus give Sujata’s father assurance three times that the he will remain forever her companion in joy and sorrow. Sujata and Anirudh commit to remain faithful to each other, while pursuing Dharma (righteousness, duty), Artha (wealth, prosperity) and Kama (desire). Sujata’s mother pours holy water on Sujata’s father’s palms, which flows into Anirudh’s and then into Sujata’s palms, symbolizing the continuity of life, repaying the debt to their forefathers and the passing of the family heritage to the next generation.
Until this time, Sujata and Anirudh are sitting opposite to each other. After kanyadaanam, they sit side by side.
Sumuhurtham (Jeelakarra(cumin seeds)-bellam(jaggery) dharana)
Per Andhra tradition, at the actual muhurtam time, the couple is asked to place a paste made from cumin seeds and jaggery on each others’ heads. This custom is referred to as Jeelakarra-Bellam. This ceremony is observed to communicate that the relationship of the married couple is unbreakable and inseparable. This forms the first contact between the couple and unites them. The antarpat is then lowered to symbolize their unity.This is the most auspicious part of the wedding ceremony. The guests bless the couple by showering rice upon them.
Anirudh then ties the two sacred yellow threads, each with a golden disc, around Sujata’s neck with three knots. The knots represent the physical, mental and spiritual strength of their union. (2 knots by Anirudh, one by Anirudh’s sister Grishma for 2 separate sets of threads).
Anirudh applies kumkum on Sujata’s forehead, now as a Soubhagyavati. Sujata applies a sandalwood tilak on Anirudh’s forehead, now as a Grahastha meaning a “householder” leading a family-centred life. With the wedding ring exchange, they commit to support each other, in good times and bad times, in happiness and sorrow, with unending love.
EXCHANGE GARLANDS AND WEDDING RINGS AFTER MAANGALYA DHARANAM
In the Talambraalu ceremony is a fun event. Sujata and Anirudh shower pearls and rice (Talambralu / Akshatalu) on each other to symbolize prosperity. This denotes the couple’s desire for happiness, enjoyment and contentment. Initially they take turns to shower, as it progresses it gets more entertaining when they begin to compete with each other.
The marriage is solemnized before Lord Agni, the sacred fire. Lord Agni is a symbol of light, power and purity and acts as the principal witness to the wedding ceremony. Sujata and Anirudh hold hands and walk around the fire four times starting their transition into married life, supported by Sujata’s brother Nikhil, as her lifelong supporter. The circles symbolize dharma (righteous conduct), artha (attainment of prosperity), karma (life’s enjoyment) and moksha (attainment of eternal union with God), the four great goals of family life. They repeat the sacred pledge of marriage and request Agni to be the messenger for their prayers to various Gods, for Santati (children), Sampatti (wealth & prosperity) and Deergh-arogya (long & healthy lives).
After the Agni Pradakshina, Sujata moves to the left side of Anirudh; indicating her transition to Anirudh’s family.
Saptapadi – Taking the Marriage Vows with Seven Steps
The couple takes seven steps together to reiterate their aspirations of their married life. During this Sujata’s saree pallav is tied to one end of Anirudh’s Kanduva. Anirudh and Sujata walk seven steps together symbolizing the beginning of their journey through life as partners, while taking their oaths of caring, protecting, understanding, loving and guiding each other. The 7 steps reflect their guiding principles in life. As they take each step, the couple exchange the following vows
Together we will:
Share in the responsibility of the home
Fill our lives with physical, mental and spiritual strength and courage
Prosper by righteous means
Acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust
Be blessed with strong and virtuous children
Attain self restraint and longevity
Be best friends and eternal partners
The newly wed couple then takes an oath:
Having taken these steps together,
I vow that I will not swerve from the path of my love and friendship with you
Let our thoughts, decisions and actions be in unison
We will remain loving and devoted to each through good and bad times
Sthaalipaakam is a ritual wherein Anirudh helps Sujata tread on a stone adorns the her toes with silver toe rings.. The manthras say “Let thy mind be rock-firm, unperturbed, by the trials and tribulations of life”. It is believed that the man bends to the woman in order to claim her as his. Also in order to ward-off the evil eye, Sujata is adorned with a string of black beads during the ceremony. These beads along with the silver toe rings symbolize that she is a married woman.
Some fun time….
Right after, a pot full of water is placed in front of the couple and a ring is put in. Anirudh puts his right hand in and Sujata puts her left hand in and they fish for the ring. They do this three times and the winner is supposed to be the dominant one in the marriage.
Dhruva, Arundhati star & Asirvad & Aarathi
Sujata and Anirudh gaze up at the pole star (Druvaloka) and meditate on stability in the marriage union. Each night as the stars rotate in the sky, the pole star always remains fixed. In the same way as life is constantly changing, the union of Sujata and Anirudh should remain fixed like the Pole star. Anirudh shows Sujata the stars Arundhati in the Saptharishi constellation (the Big Dipper). Arundhati, the wife of Maharishi Vashista, Is exemplified as an ideal wife, to be emulated by the Bride.
The ceremony ends with the new couple seeking blessings from the priest and their family and friends.
Congratulations Sujata & Ani!