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Part 2: Kumudavalli--Thirumangai"s Vaidhika Vivaham

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sun Dec 10 1995 - 06:10:00 PST

	In the last posting, I referred to the Veda Mantras playing a key  role 
in every step of the traditional  Hindu Marriage. Thirumangai asked for the hand
of 
Kumudavalli, got permisison form the father and married her in the ceremony
prescribed by the Vedas. The mantras for this ceremony comes mostly from the 
Rks housed in the tenth Khanda of Rg Vedam, where  a daughter of Sun God by 
name Suryaa is given in marriage to the bridegroom by the name of Soma.These
mantras 
are in 10.85 section mostly.

                 Many Divya Desams have references in their Sthala Puranam about
the Lord
seeking the hand of Maha Lakshmi, who is raised by a Maharishi, after finding
her as 
an Ayonijai. For instance , In Oppiliappan Koil, Markandeya Maharishi accedes to
the 
request of Sriman Narayana , who seeks the Hand of his daughter Bhoomi Devi. 
She  was found as a child in the Tulasi forest by the Maharishi .AtKumbakonam, 
Sarangapani weds Komalavalli, the daughter of Hema Maharishi. 
At Thiruvahindrapuram, Hemabjavalli, the daughter of another  Muni marries 
Devanathan in a Vedic Ceremony.At Thirupathi , Srinivasan marries Padmavathi 
after seeking her hand from the father, Akasa Rajan.At Thiru Idavendai Bhagavan 
got the name of Niya Kalyanar thru his marriage of the 360 daughters of Kalava
Rishi.
He married them all one a day and made them all into one named Akilavalli
Nacchiyar.
The most celebrated one is the wedding, where Ranganatha seeks the hand of Andal
from the father Periyazhvar and weds her in a ceremony at Srivilliputtur. Andal
had already 
dreamt about that and has described the wedding  in her Nacchiar Thirumozhi ,
 Varanamayiram section exactly as prescribed in the Vedic Ceremony.

In the following sections, I will describe the Steps of  a Vedic Wedding and
their 
significance.

Step 1: VAK DHANAM: This  step is  a part of Kanya Varanam, where the
Brahmachari sends
two elders on his behalf to the father of a girl, whom he wishes to marry.The
elders 
convey the message of the Brahmachari and ask for the daughter"s hand. The two
mantras
in the form of Brahmachari"s appeal to intercede on his behalf come  from
 Rk 10.32. 1(Pra sugmantha--)    and  10.85.23. The first mantram begs the
elders to proceed & return 
quickly with success  back from their mission on his behalf. The  second mantram
(Anruksharaa
Rujava:) asks for the Deva"s blessings for the elder"s  safe journey to the
house of the father of 
the would -be-bride. The mantram prays to Aryama and Bhagan for a marriage full
of harmony.
The father accedes to the request of the elders and the resulting agreement for
betrothal is known
as Vak Dhanam.

Step2: Kanya Dhanaam--Here, the Brahmachari  meets his  father in law.Latter
seats him facing
 the eastern direction and washes the feet of the future son in law, who is
considered as the 
Vishnu Swaroopan. All honors are given including the ceremonial washing of the
feet of the groom 
by the Father in law and offer of Madhu Parkam(a mixture of Curd, Honey and
Ghee) to the 
accompaniment of selected Veda Mantras.

Step 3: Vara Prekshanam--In this ritual, the bridegroom and the bride look at
each other 
formally for the first time. The bridegroom worries about any dhosas(defects)
that the bride
 might have and prays to varuna ,Brahaspati ,Indra and Surya to remove every
defect and
 to make her fit for harmonious and long marriage life blessed with progeny and
happiness
(Mantra: Rg 10.85.44). The bride groom recites the  mantra  and wipes the
eyebrows of the 
bride with a blade of dharba grass ,as if he was chasing away all defects. The
Dharba 
grass is thrown behind the bride at the conclusion of this ceremony.

Step 4: Mangala Snanam and the wearing of the wedding  clothes by the bride:
Five Veda mantras are  recited to sanctify the bride in preparation for the
subsequent 
stages of the marriage. This  aspect of the marriage is known a s Mangala
Snanam. 
Sun God (Suryan) , water God (Varunan), and other Gods are invoked to purify the
bride
in preparation for the harmonious married life. Next, the bride wears the
marriage clothes to the accompaniment of additional Veda Mantras. The bridegroom
then ties a dharba rope around the waist of the bride and leads her to the place
,where the   sacred fire  is located for
conducting the rest of the marriage ceremony. The bride and the groom sit on a
new mat in front of the fire. The groom recites three mantras  ,which invoke
Soman, Ghandarvan and Agni to confer strength
beauty and Youth on the bride.

Step 5: Mangalya Dhaaranam: There is no Veda Mantram for tying the Mangala
Sutram 
(auspicious thread) around the neck of the bride by the groom. Latter takes the
Mangala 
Sutram in his hands and recites the following verse:

Maangalyam Tantunaanena Mama Jeevana Hethunaa I
Kantteh Bhadnami Subhage sanjeeva sarada: sadam II
 
(meaning: This is a scred thread .This is essential for my long life. 
I tie this around your neck. O maiden having many auspicious 
attributes ! May thou live happily for hundred years (with me).

Step 6: Paani Grahanam: After Mangalya Dharanam, the groom lowers his right palm

and encloses it over the right hand of the bride. He covers all the five fingers
of the 
right hand of the bride with his right palm thru this act of Paani Grahanam. He
recites
mantras in praise of Bhagan, Aryama,Savita, Indran, Agni,Suryan,Vayu and
Saraswati ,
while holding the bride"s hand. He prays for long life, progeny , prosperity and
harmony
with the bride during their married life. The closed fingers of the right hand
of the bride is 
said to represent her heart. The Paanigrahanam ritual symbolizes the bride
surrendering
her heart in the hands of the groom during the occasion of the marriage.

Step 7: Saptha Pati:  During this ritual, the groom walks with the bride to the
right side of the
Sacred fire. All along , he holds his wife's right hand in his right hand  in
the way in which 
he held her hand during the Paani Grahanam ceremony. He stops, bends down and
holds 
the right toe of his wife with his right hand  and helps her take seven steps
around the fire.
At the beginning of each step, he recites a Veda Mantra to invoke theblessings
of Maha Vishnu.
Through these seven mantras, he asks Maha Vishnu to follow in the footsteps of
his wife
and bless her with food, strength, piety, progeny, wealth, comfort and health.
At the conclusion
of the seven steps, he addresses his wife with a moving statement from the Veds
summarized below:

Dear Wife! By taking these seven steps, You have become my dearest friend.I
pledge my 
unfailing loyalty to You. Let us stay together for the rest of our lives. Let us
not separate from 
each other ever. Let us be of one mind in carrying out our responsibilities as
Grahasthas. Let
us love and cherish each other and enjoy nourishing food and good health. Let us
discharge our prescribed Vedic duties to our elders, ancestors, Rishis ,Devas
and  Gods. Let our aspirations 
be united. I will be the Saaman and let thou be the Rk(Saaman here refers to the
music and
Rk refers to the Vedic text that is being cast into music).Let me the upper
world and let thou be the 
Bhoomi or mother Earth. I will be the Suklam or Life force . Let thou be the
bearer of that Suklam. 
Let me be the Manas and let thou be the Vak or Speech. May thou follow me to
conceive children 
and gain worldly as well as spiritual wealth.May all auspiciousness come your
way. This series
of Veda mantras starting with "Sakhaa Saptapadhaa bhava----" and 
ending with "Pumse Putraaya ---" are rich with meaning and imagery.

8.Pradhaana Homam: After Saptha Pati, The couple take their seat on the western
side of
the sacred fire and conduct Pradhaana Homam .During the conductance of this
Homam,
the bride must place her right hand on her  husband's body so that she gets the
full benefit 
of the Homam through symbolic participation. Sixteen mantras are recited to the
accompaniment
of  pouring  a spoon of clarified butter into the sacred fire at the end of
recitation of each of 
the mantras. These mantras salute Soma, Gandharva, Agni, Indra, Vayu, Aswini
Devas, Savita,
Brahaspati, Viswa Devas and Varuna for blessing the marriage and beseeches them
to confer long 
wedded life , health, wealth, children and freedom from all kinds of worries.
One prayer -the sixth
mantra-- has a  sense of humor and provides deep insight into human psychology.
The text of this
mantra Is: " Dasaasyam putran Dehi, Patim ekadasam krithi". Here, the groom asks
Indra to
bless the couple with ten sons/children  and requests that he be blesssed to
become the 
eleventh child of his bride in his old age.

9. Ammi stepping: After Pradhaana homam, the husband holds the right toe of his
wife and lifts
 her leg and places it on a flat granite grinding stone  known as "Ammi" in
Tamil. Ammi stands 
at the right side of the sacred fire. The husband recites a Veda mantra , when
he places
 the right foot of his wife on the Ammi: " May thou stand on this  firm stone.
Let thou be rock-firm
during your stay on this grinding stone. May thou stand upto  those, who oppose
you , while
you carry out your time-honored responsibilities as a wife sanctioned by the
Vedas and tradition.
May thou develop tolerance to your enemies and put up a fair fight to defend
your legitimate rights
as the head of the household in a firm manner , equal to the steady strength of
this Ammi.

10.Laaja Homam: After Ammi stepping, a ceremony of doing homam with parched rice
is
conducted. Here, the wife cups her hands and the brothers of the bride fill the
cupped hands
 with parched rice. The  husband adds a drop of ghee to the parched rice and
recites five Veda
 mantras. At the end of each of the recitation , the parched rice is thrown into
the sacred fire as 
Havis (offering)  to Agni. Through these mantras, the wife prays for long life
to her husband 
and a marriage filled with peaceand harmony. At he end of the Laja Homam, the
husband 
unties the Dharba belt around the waist of his wife with another mantra. The
husband states
thru this mantra that he unites his wife and ties her now  with Varuna pasam
and invites her
to be  a full partner in his life to enjoy the blessings of wedded life.

11. GRAHA PRAVESAM: This ceremony relates to the journey of the wife to her
husband"s home. The husband carries the homagni in a eathern vessel during this
journey home.  There are many Veda
mantras  associated with this journey.These mantras pray to the appropriate
Vedic Gods to remove 
all obstacles that one can experience in a journey. The bride is requested to
become 
the mistress of the house and is reminded of her important role among the
relatives of her 
husband. After reaching her new home, she puts her right foot first inn the
house and recites
the following Veda Mantram: " I enter this house with a happy heart. May I give
birth to children,
 who observe the path of Dharma! May this house that I enter today be prosperous
forever and
never be deficient  in food. May this house be populated by people of virtue and
pious thoughts".

12. PRAAVISYA HOMAM: After Graha Pravesam, A fire ritual known as Praavisya
Homam is 
performed by  the couple to the accompaniment of thirteen Veda Mantras from Rg
Vedam.
Jayaathi Homam is also part of the Praavisya Homam. This homam offers the
salutation 
of the newly married couple to Agni Deva and asks for strength and nourishment
to discharge the 
duties of a Grahasthas for the next one hundred years. After that, the bride
shifts her position 
from  the right side of her husband to his left side.  At that time, Once again,
she recites a 
Veda Mantram invoking the Gods for blessings of children and wealth to perform
the duties 
of a householder. 

                 At  the end of the above Homam, a child is placed  on the lap
of the bride and she offers
a fruit to the child, while reciting a prescribed Veda Mantram. Yet another
Mantram asks the 
assembled guests to bless the bride and then retire to their own individual
homes peacefully.
During the first evening of the stay in her new home, the couple see the stars
known as Dhruvan
(pole star) and Arundhati. The husband points out the pole star and prays for
the strength
and stability of the household thru a Veda Mantra. Next, the husband points out
the Arundhati 
star to his wife and describes to her the the story of Arundhati and her
legendary chastity.

                The rich and meaningful ceremony of the Hindu marriage (Kalyana
Mahotsavam of 
the temples) is thus carried out  in concert with sacred Veda Mantras. The bride
and bridegroom 
should enunciate clearly the Veda Mantras and reflect on their meanings during
the different 
stages of the marriage ceremony.This way, they can be sure of a long, happy and
prosperous
married life and play their appropriate role in  society to the fullest
extent.Srinivasa Kalyanam 
is performed in the temples to remind us of these hoary Vedic traditions behind
a Hindu marriage.

Lokaa: Samasthaa: Sukhino Bhavantu
Sarva Mangalaani Santhu

Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan    

                .