"It's not a spectator sport!"


3. Customs of the Marriage Ceremony

India, the land of mysticism, and philosophy, has symbolism in all its customs. Even in the marriage ceremony everything that is done as a custom or rite is symbolical. But bride and bridegroom wear on their hand a pearl-embroidered heart; they wear saffron-coloured garments for the ten days that the wedding ceremony lasts; they are anointed during the wedding ceremony on their heads, shoulders, elbows, and chins, and on their knees and feet. The bridegroom has a sword in his hand during all those ten days. On the last day of the wedding both bride and bridegroom are veiled with a low-flowing veil made of jasmine flowers and trimmed with roses, and after the conclusion of the marriage ceremony they are unveiled.

Now, the meaning of this veil of flowers is that a new phase of life begins for them. They are no more the same as before; new responsibilities, new hopes, and a new life they have to begin. The meaning of the sword in the bridegroom's hand is that the bridegroom shall uphold the honour and dignity of his family, of his wife, that he shall stand in arms to defend the honour and dignity that the union of bride and bridegroom has completed. And the heart on the hand denotes that both of them shall let their action be directed by their heart. The anointing means that the hands and feet and head of either shall be ready to serve the other when occasion arises, that they shall not be stiff at any time when their service is called for. Saffron colour, in the East, is considered to be the colour of all sorts of good luck. It is the imperial sign. Love-letters are written in saffron colour. The invitations for the wedding are written in this colour, for this colour represents light. Light in heaven and gold on earth, both are yellow. Therefore yellow is preferred to all other colours to be the omen on some good occasion of life.