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How We Integrated Our Jewish and Hindu Wedding Traditions Into One Ceremony

    Poonam and Mark’s Hindu and Jewish Ceremonies Integrated

    Mark is Jewish and I am Hindu. We wanted to have one ceremony where we were able to integrate important aspects of the Hindu AND Jewish Ceremony. I took some time to learn about both ceremonies by reading about the traditions and talking to our Pundit and Rabbi. We then picked the most important aspects to us of our traditions and integrated them into one. We also took into consideration what was important to our parents to incorporate in each of our wedding traditions.

    Here is how I and where I integrated the Hindu and Jewish Wedding traditions: 

    We had a Rabbi and Pundit in their traditional wedding outfits. 

    1. Ketubah signing (Jewish wedding tradition) 

    This occurs prior to the start of the baraat amongst close friends and family.  The ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract that, traditionally, details the groom’s obligations to his bride. We did this prior to the start of the baraat in a private room with our close friends/family.

    2. Barat Swagat and Dwar Puja  – the Hindu tradition of welcoming the groom and his family.

    The groom, with his family and friends, arrives at the ceremony site with his Baraat where the Bride’s family and their friends greet them. The Bride’s mother welcomes the Groom, he is asked to break a small pot representing the world (this is similar to breaking the glass in the Jewish wedding tradition)  He is escorted to the Mandap (the Indian Wedding Altar also our Chuppah) by the brides family, where the wedding ceremony will take place.

    Integration #1: Mandap and Chuppah

    Pundit introduces the Hindu ceremony. Welcomes our guests and introduces our mandap. Our Rabbi introduces the Jewish ceremony and also welcomes our guests into our Chuppah, commenting on how both ceremonies are similar in that aspect.

    3. Var pooja: the Hindu tradition of honoring the groom. 

    The bride’s father respectfully offers the groom a seat and washes the groom’s feet. He offers the groom a mixture of Panchamrut as a part of welcoming ceremony.

    Integration #2: Welcoming our families

    Hindu Tradition: Our Pundit welcomes both of our grandparents.

    Jewish Tradition: Our Rabbi has a moment of silence to honor and remember those who have passed away and welcoming those who have passed away to our ceremony.

    4. Mangalashtakam: the Hindu tradition to request of blessings. 

    Prior to bride entering the Mandap, a curtain or Antarpat will be placed in front of groom’s face, as a symbol of traditional barrier right before arrival of the Bride into mandap. 

    The priest recites auspicious verses of blessings and the bride will be escorted to the mandap.

    5. Kanya Aagaman: (Arrival of the Bride)

    Bride’s maternal uncle (Mama) will escort her to the Mandap/Chuppah.  After the Bride takes a seat, the priest will recite Manglasthakam for blessing from ancestors and family elders who could not be able to attend the ceremony and after that the curtain is removed with spiritual slokas. (Very similar to the Jewish tradition of welcoming those who have passed away to our wedding to bless us)

    6. Ganesh Puja: the Hindu tradition to pray to Lord Ganesh. 

    The parents of bride perform a worship of Lord Ganesh to seek the blessing for the wedding ceremony

    7. Jay Mala: the Hindu tradition of exchanging of garlands. 

    Bride and Groom will exchange flower garlands, signifying the union of two bodies and two souls into one entity.

    8. Hastapita Karanam, Kanya-Sanskar Sankalpa and Hasta Melap (Hindu traditions) 

    The Bride’s parents’ places haladi – turmeric paste– on bride’s both palm. The parents with the ancenstor’s blessing transfer the responsibility of their Sanskar (cultural values given to their daughter from childhood to now). The Groom and Bride’s hands are filled with beetle nuts, copper coins, and rice, signifying unity, prosperity, and happiness.

    Then parents’ place the Bride’s right hand on top of the Groom’s right hand, symbolizing the union of the couple to take care of each other.

    9. Varmala /Granthi Bandhna (Hindu traditions) 

    A Varmala (a hand-woven cotton string) is place around Groom and Bride. The bride’s mother ties their garments (the bride’s sari or dupatta) to the groom’s garment in a knot, symbolizing the sacred union

    10. The Oath Taking Ceremony:

    Integration #3:  Pundit recites our oath taken from the Vedic mantras and Rabbi recites versus from our Ketubah.

    11. Agni Pratistha: the Hindu tradition of lighting of the sacred fire. 

    The nuptial fire, symbolizing the divine witness, Agni, is installed in Havan Kunda. Offering to Agni represent commitments made in the presence of God.

    12. Mangal Fera: the Hindu tradition of taking  steps around a scared fire. 

    The priest asks bride and groom to rise and circle the holy fire four times recognizing God as witness to this union. The couple moves in a clockwise manner to symbolize proper direction in life. These mangal pheras also signify four basic covenants of Hindu philosophy: Dharma (A life of righteousness), Artha (A life of prosperity), Kama (A life of happiness- by performing righteous deed), and Moksha (A life towards a path of spirituality- with goal of liberation).

    13. The Hindu tradition of Saptapadi (Seven vows) while taking seven forward steps together with the seven Jewish wedding blessings.

    Integration #4: Pundit recites each vow in English,  then recite it in Sanskrit. The Rabbi will recite the blessings in Hebrew, followed by the English translation.  Each step will be recited with a vow in Sanskirt and a blessing in Hebrew.

    The seven vows in Hinduism represent the seven guiding principles of married life: Respect, Love, Patience, Honesty, strength through good and bad times, Harmony and Healthy Family. The seven blessings (Sheva Brachot) in the Jewish wedding traditins will be recited in Hebrew.

    14. Kansarbhoj. the Hindu tradition of feeding of sweets to each other and the Jewish tradition of drinking wine/grape juice. 

    Hindu tradition: The bride and groom are now united in marriage and seek the blessings of the gods and goddesses. The Bride’s mother brings the couple some sweets to feed each other. The Bride and Groom feed each other with mouthful of sweets signifying they are husband and wife and it is their duty to provide sweetness for each other and their family.

    Integration #5: Feeding each other sweets/drinking wine (grape juice) together. 

    Hindu tradition: feeding of sweets (kaunsar) to each other

    Jewish tradition: immediately after  reading a truncated version of our Ketubah we drink a cup of wine (grape juice for us).

    15. Sindoor-daan / Mangal- Sutra / Ring exchange:

    Integration #6:

    Hindu tradition: The Groom now takes a pinch of sindoor (red powder) and places it in the parting of the Bride’s hair to symbolize their colorful life together. Groom will place the mangal sutra on the bride.

    Jewish tradition: ring exchange. A solid gold band is placed by the groom on the bride’s finger with Shehecheyanu prayer in Hebrew.

    16. Mangal Tilakam:

    Application of Tilak by bride on the forehead of her groom with the concept that she is honoring him and pledging to increase his status and honor in the society.

    Integration #7

    Hindu ceremony: Shoes: Cousins will need to bring back grooms’s shoes in exchange for a gift from the groom. Without this we cannot complete the Jewish ceremony, thus he has to pay up! 🙂

    Jewish Ceremony: Breaking of the Glass. Mazel Tov!

    Now we are Married!

    I hope you liked our version of an integrated Jewish and Hindu Wedding Ceremony!