Update: The final version of my program (click for larger image):

(page 3/back page)                                                                     (cover/front page)

(page 2)                                                                     (page 1)

The pages are meant to be printed double sided on one sheet of paper.

I’ve had a hard time writing this out and finding the real meaning behind all the rituals we perform. My friend Neha’s program was the inspiration behind most of what is below. Let me know if you have suggestions for change.

The traditional Hindu wedding is a deeply meaningful and symbolic tradition performed in accordance with the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures). Marriage is a sacred spiritual bond between a man and a woman who pledge to follow the path of truth and righteousness (dharma). According to Hindu religious beliefs, marriage is considered to be one of the most important sacraments, and an important step towards spiritual perfection. The wedding is filled with sacred and spiritual rituals mixed in with fun traditions and regional flair.

Our families come from two different regions in India, Anjali’s family is Gujrati, Deep’s is from the Punjab. In addition, Anjali’s family has lived in Kenya for generations. You can say we live on the hyphens between all our multi-cultural heritages. To honour Deep’s family’s Sikh religion we celebrated an intimate and traditional Sikh wedding a few weeks ago, and today we celebrate the Hindu wedding of the couple. Enjoy the festivities!

Varghodo – Marriage Procession
The groom, his family and friends arrive at the wedding location in a procession. Deep enjoys the status of var-raja, or king of the day!

Swagat – Welcoming
Anjali’s mother welcomes Deep and asks him whether he is prepared to make the lifelong commitment to her daughter. Deep must bow his head to symbolize his humility and understanding of the tremendous sacrifice his future wife is about to make.
Anjali’s mother then blesses Deep and performs a small puja to bless him. She will also playfully grab his nose to remind him he is taking away her daughter, and that he should be grateful to them for raising her the way they have.
Anjali then comes out and tries to garland Deep. His friends raise him up to show her that she cannot take him away from her. They eventually let him down and allow her to garland her groom. She then returns back to her room.
Deep then breaks an earthen pot filled with curd, honey, ghee, and cotton seeds. The pot symbolizes the earth and the contents, the various experiences the couple will experience in their life together.

Madhuparka – Panchamrut
Anjali’s parents offer Deep madhuparka, a mixture of yogurt, honey, ghee, milk, and sugar, symbols of sweetness and purity. They also wash his feet because they are welcoming him as Lord Vishnu to whom they are giving the Goddess Laxmi in the form of their daughter.

Kanya-Agaman – Arrival of the Bride
Anjali is walked down the aisle by her mama (mother’s brother). The mandap traditionally has four pillars representing the bride and groom’s parents. At the madap, a curtain, antarpat, held up by the grooms brothers, separates the bride and groom. This is done to indicate that the bride and groom are coming as individuals to the mandap. The priest then ties the scarf of the groom to the bride’s veil signifying the commencement of their lives as unified souls. The antarpat is then removed.

Mangalashthak – invocation of the Gods
The presence of the Gods are invoked to sanctify the ceremonial site and bless the attendees. The elders, friends, family and friends then sanction the wedding and the bride and groom acknowledge they enter the union willingly and with the full understanding of the responsibility it entails.

Mala Arpana – Garland Exchange
Anjali and Deep exchange flower garlands promising each other lifelong love and unity.

Agni Puja – Lighting the Ceremonial Fire
Agni is the god of fire and messenger of the gods. He is the acceptor of sacrifice. A fire is lit in the middle of the mandap to symbolize the illumination of mind, knowledge and happiness. The remainder of the ceremony is conducted around this fire.

Kanya Daan/Var Daan – Giving of the Bride and Groom in Marriage
Both Anjali and Deep’s parents give their children to the other in marriage. The joining of the bride and groom’s hands – Hasta Melap – signifies their union as husband and wife. The priest then ties the scarf of the groom to the bride’s veil in a sacred knot. With this they promise to love, protect and cherish one another.

Mangal Phera – Circling the Sacred Fire
Anjali and Deep then circle the fire four times. Before each circle, Anjali’s brothers place rice, leaves and grains in her palms to feed into the fire. These represent the love and support Deep will forever offer her. These rounds represent the four duties the couple is pledging:
Dharma: Duty to society and religion
Aarth: Duty to earn a livelihood honestly
Karma: Duty to family
Moksha: Duty to seek enlightenment

The first three rounds Anjali will lead signaling her role in the union. The last round is let by Deep to signify that he pledges to protect his bride, and he takes spiritual and social responsibility for the family they will create.

After the fourth round, the bride and groom rush to sit down. According to myth the first to sit after the Pheras will have an upper hand in the marriage.

Satpadi – Seven Steps
Anjali and Deep will take seven vows. As they take each vow, they step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like the stone. These are the vows they take:
Together we will share in the responsibility of our home.
Together we will foster strength and courage.
Together we will prosper and share our worldly possessions.
Together we will fill our hearts with love, peace, happiness, and spiritual values.
Together we will be blessed with loving children.
Together we will share our joys and sorrows.
Together we will have a life of understanding, loyalty, unity and companionship.

Mangalsutra and Sindoor
Deep then ties a necklace of gold and black stones on Anjali’s neck to symbolize his eternal love for her. He then puts red powder along the parting in Anjali’s hair. These are the two traditional signs of a married woman. Since in this day and age rings are used for this purpose, they will also exchange rings at this time.

Kunsar Bhojan – Nourishing the Relationship
Similar to the tradition of cutting cake and feeding it to one another in western tradition, Anjali and Deep will feed each other sweets to symbolize their devotion to one another and their commitment to nourish one another.

Akhand Saubhagyavati – Unbroken Nuptial Bond
Married women from each side of the family are given the opportunity to come up and offer their blessings and whisper advice to the newes member of their ranks. Afterall, misery loves company 

Ashirwaad – Blessings
Anjali and Deep obtain blessings from the elders, beginning with both sets of parents, by bowing at their feet. Family and friends are invited to shower the new couple with well wishes and love in the form of flowers and rice.