The Madhwa weddings are elaborate and filled with rituals. Some of the rituals are common to other Hindu weddings but some are unique.
This is a very interesting part of the wedding where the groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage. He is
dressed in the traditional panchakatcham. He also holds an umbrella, a fan, a walking stick, and a towel containing dal (lentils) and rice tied to his shoulder and then sets off on a mock pilgrimage to renounce the world.
As he steps out of the kalyana mandapam the bride's father pleads with him not to go to Kashi, the famous pilgrimage site and marry his daughter instead. The groom makes many objections but finally accepts and returns to the mandapam to get married!
While the Kashi Yatra is taking place, the bride performs the Gowri Puja at her house. This is a prayer to secure a good husband.
During the marriage ceremony the bride sits in a bamboo basket. The couple must not see each other until the Kanyadaan - this ceremony is the giving away of the bride to the groom by the bride’s father. They are separated by a curtain. The groom is invited to accept the bride as his wife. After the marriage ceremony is over, the parents of the bride wash the groom's feet.
This ceremony involves the bride tying a string fastened to a piece of turmeric, around the wrist of the bridegroom, this signifies that they are binding themselves by a religious vow. It is only after tying the Kankanam that the bridegroom gets the right to touch the bride. Following this, the bridegroom ties a Kankanam on the bride’s wrist.
Exchange of Garlands
There is an exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom. This symbolizes their union as one soul with two bodies.
The groom ties the sacred 'Mangalsutra' on the bride as she is seated on a sheaf of grain-laden hay, looking eastward, and the bridegroom facing westward. He makes the first knot and two others are completed by his sister.
The word Paani Grahanam means holding hands. The groom takes the hands of the bride in his own and chants manthras that say that the Gods have given her to him and he will look after her throughout life.
This is the ritual where the couple walk around the sacred fire. The groom walks with the bride to the right side of the sacred fire while holding his wife's right hand. He stops, bends down and holds the right toe of his wife with his right hand and helps her take seven steps around the fire. At the beginning of each step, he recites a Vedic mantra.
Once the Sapthapadi is completed, the groom gently places the bride's foot on a grinding stone near the fire and slips silver rings on her toes. The couple is then shown the Dhruva Nakshatra or Pole Star a symbol of permanence and also the 'Arundhati Nakshatra, a symbol of purity and virtue.