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Vedic Marriage Rituals – What Hindu Marriage Ritual Means?

Hindu marriage rituals have undergone a sea change in the last hundred years. The pure simple Vedic marriage rituals have been transformed into complex rituals. Writing on the subject in Livemint in an article titled ‘Vedic rituals recognize the marriage of equals,’ Aakar Patel introduces one of the best books published on the subject – The Vedic Hindu Marriage Ceremony (Sanskrit Text :Transcreation with English Translation) by P. Lal.
Some excerpts from the book as quoted by Aakar Patel in the article
The wedding begins with the purohit addressing the gathered: “Say these words to bless the wedding: ‘May all be holy (Om punyaham), may all be successful (Om riddhim), may all be well (Om svasti).” 
The guests respond: “Om punyaham, Om riddhyatam, Om svasti”. 
The man, karta, giving the bride away then welcomes the groom, who replies: “I am honoured (aham ase). The bride is blessed by the presence of divinity.” 
The couple then receive each other with these words. 
Bride: “I respect you with all my mind and all my heart, I respect your soul with mine. Inside the same as outside, and outside the same inside.”
Groom: “I respect you similarly in the presence of all.” 
Bride: “My mind will move with your mind in love, like water flowing on the path of life. My life is linked with yours, my mind with yours and my vows with your vows. Let us work together as two friends, seekers of the same goal.” 
The groom replies with these words: “Who is giving to whom? It is love that gives to love. Love is giver, receiver, an inexhaustible ocean. You come to me with love, and that is love’s doing.” 
The purohit tells the bride: “As Sachi to Indra, as Svaha to Agni, as Rohini to Chandra, as Damayanti to Nala, as Bhadra to Vivasyat, as Arundhati to Vashishth, as Lakshmi to Vishnu, may you be to your husband.” 
The bride replies: “May the path of my husband be spontaneous, and I shall walk on it with pleasure.” 
This is followed by the Kushandika, the fire ritual. 
The couple faces the fire with the groom standing behind the bride, reaching out in front to cup her palms in his. 
Bride: “May my husband live a hundred years, and my people prosper.” 
Purohit: “May you be as steadfast to your family as the Pole Star is to the earth.” 
Then follows the ritual we associate most with the Vedic marriage, the seven steps of the Saptapadi. 
The couple chants together: “We take the first step for nourishment.” 
They continue in this manner, taking the second step for success, the third for loyalty, the fourth for bliss, the fifth for the good of all animals, the sixth for prosperity, the seventh for illumination. 
They chant together: “With these seven steps I am your friend, may I deserve your friendship and may it make me one with you, loved and loving, sakha-sakhi.” 
The couple then hold hands, and the groom says: “I hold your hand happily, for I am your husband. Let us grow old together, as lovers, as friends, as guides. Be with me and let’s together build the ideal home. May the universe’s powers bless us and the holy waters unite us. Your heart, my will—may they be one. Your mind and my mind, also one. I hope our words delight one another. May divinity unite us. What is in my heart, may it be in yours, tied in the knot of truth. In love, may we see a hundred autumns, live a hundred autumns and hear a hundred autumns.” 
He then anoints his bride with sindoor. 
Bride: (facing Dhruv, the Pole Star): “You are forever stable. May I also be in my new home.” 
Purohit: “Witness this bride and bless her. May she be happy in love. Be as a queen with your husband’s family.” 
Facing the couple he says: “May you always follow the principles of dharma, artha and kama (morality, economics and sexual pleasure).” 
The couple, together: “I will.” 
Purohit: “May this ceremony be blessed by God. Shanti, shanti, shanti.” 
One thing is striking in the exchange: This is a marriage of equals.