Here's what to expect at a Hindu wedding ceremony.
There are sixteen important sacraments that a Hindu must make. "Sansakaras" means sacraments. A Hindu wedding is considered one of the most important of the Hindu sanskars. Traditionally the ceremony takes place in the bride's city of birth. The bride is the Dulhan and the groom is the Dulha. The service is officiated by a Brahmin priest.
At the ceremony, the mother of the bride greets the groom and places rori, which is vermillion powder on his head and an arti, is performed. An arti is an act of praise. She then takes him to the Mandap. The Mandap is a religious canopy where the four posts are blessed.
The bride is taken to the Mandap with her Mama, who is the uncle on her mother's side. This is after the garlanding ceremony. After the "Kanya Daam" which means giving away the bride, the wedding ceremony commences.
Vivahik Homa means invoking the sacred fire. It involves the Agni, which means fire and represents happiness and knowledge. Offerings are placed into the fire. The Agni Panikram involves the couple circling the fire. This is an important part of the ceremony, and the couple circles around the fire seven times, six of which are led by the bride and the last time is led by the groom. It is a Hindu belief that the moon shelters the bride in the first seven years of her marriage. Following that, the sun protects her for the next seven years and then Agni shields her.
Saptapadi involves the couple taking seven steps around the fire. This represents the blessing of the gods for food, friendship, life, pregnancy, prosperity, religion and strength. Saubhagya Chinha involves the blessing of the bride. The groom presents her with a sacred necklace called a mangalasutra and puts sindoor, vermillion powder, on her head.
The ceremony continues with Hridaya-Sparsha, where the couple figuratively touch each other's hearts. During Anna-Prashan, the bride feeds the groom. Purnauti notes the end of the ceremony where the Priest prays over the couple and guests throw rice and flower petals for good luck.