Festive songs were heard throughout the land as preparations for the divine wedding of Shiva and Bhavani took place. Homes were cleaned and decorated with finest ornaments with men and women, both young and old, adorned their finest garments. The most delicious dishes were prepared and presented in golden thalis. It is difficult to describe the grandeur of the city and the food prepared for this auspicious occasion.
The guests began to arrive from all directions for the wedding, their eyes were treated to a view of the incredible banquet that had been prepared in their honor. The wedding prompted the feeling within the hearts of the guests that they had arrived in heaven. The joy felt by those in attendance cannot be described even by a million tongues. The seven sages who were in charge of performing the wedding, blew conch shells to inform the attendees that the wedding was about to commence. The wedding mandap was prepared with such exquisite artistry and beauty, it could have been made by the creator himself.
The Gods were invited to the wedding in the proper way according the the Vedic injunctions and the seers decided upon the perfect astrological moment for the wedding ceremony to begin. The sounds of the Vedas being chanted by the priests resounded throughout the air and Lord Shiva walked forward resplendently to take his seat on the throne.
Then, accompanied by her parents, bridesmaids, and other family members came the most beautiful sight. The mother of the Universe, Bhavani walked slowly towards the throne leaving everybody in awe of her beauty. Adorned with precious jewels, hair prepared in the most perfect way, even the greatest of poets could not possibly describe how she looked on that day. The Gods were left stunned, even the Vedas for a moment seemed insignificant, what chance have I to describe her beauty?
Bhavani took her seat besides Shiva feeling shy, she struggled to caste her gaze upon him but her heart fled to his like a bee to a flower. First and foremost, the divine couple worshiped Ganesha as is prescribed for all wedding rituals. This may appear as contradiction for they are worshiping their own child, but it is not, Ganesha exists eternally.
The priests to the best of their ability performed the sacred vedic ceremony. The divine couple waked slowly around the holy fire as petals where showered upon them by their guests. The universe was filled with the feeling of love as the guests chanted Jai! Jai! Jai! (Glory! Glory! Glory!). Once complete, the guests took the opportunity to greed the newly weds where they were gifted precious jewels and golden ornaments.
Himavan, the father of Parvati said, ‘Lord Shiva, please accept these gifts from me, I am aware you are completely desireless but accept my blessings.’ Shiva reassured his father-in-law and embraced him in his arms. Next came Mena who said, ‘Lord Shiva please give me only one boon, that you will always be good to my beloved daughter, this is my only wish’. The Lord comforted her greatly, with words of compassion he consoled her heart.
Mena called her daughter forward, and said, ‘now Shiva is your husband and you must love him with everything you do, he is your Lord.’ Overwhelmed with the feeling of a mothers upcoming separation from her daughter, Mena poured tears of love. Even the Gods could not prevent their eyes from filling with tears as Bhavani and Mena cried their hearts out.
The divine couple, touching the feet of their parents and taking the blessing of their gifts looked back one last time and departed to distribute gifts to the poor before leaving for Mount Kailash.
The Hindu wedding is perhaps the most spectacular event in the life of a Hindu. It is designated as a samskara, which is a recognised life-transition ritual. The bride and bridegroom are represented as the eternal masculine and feminine principles, be it Shiva and Parvati, Rama and Sita, or Vishnu and Lakshmi.
This is a wonderful opportunity for a couple to perform an ancient Vedic ceremony, something which has been performed for generations for thousands of years. It is an opportunity for the couple to wash away all of their negative qualities and emotions, and embrace positive, Godly ones. Normally couples will circumambulate the sacred fire seven times (saptapadi). The couple prays for blessings with every round. These wonderful blessings are not secular but deeply spiritual. Hinduism considers marriage the union of souls and a great virtue. These seven prayers are as follows:
1) May the couple live with ease, and help each other at every opportunity.
2) May the couple have divine strength
3) May the couple be blessed with prosperity
4) May the couple live in eternal happiness and bliss
5) May the couple live in happiness with their families
6) May the couple be truthful to one another.
7) May the couple forever remain best of friends.
The passage above also gives us a wonderful insight into the profound emotion of the Hindu wedding, particularly at its culmination. The moment when the bride leaves her family for her new home is a deeply emotional moment and shows the tremendous love which exists between families. More than anything the marriage is an opportunity to be in love, to worship and celebrate this love, and to reaffirm this love for the rest of ones life. It is indeed this love which is the real treasure of life.