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Wedding Ritual

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on November 11, 2011 | Comments (10)

As I described previously, I have just been married! I didn’t have a chance to post on Monday, as I usually do, because I was on a sort of mini-honeymoon. We went to a beautiful hotel in the north of San Diego where we watched the sunset and then sat in front of a delightful fireplace while listening to a brief  thunderstorm that came through.

Sunset from our hotel

The next day we went to the San Diego Safari park, an area of 900 acres where animals from around the world have room to run, walk, and interact with other animals. They have specialized in saving endangered species and have had more births of rare animals than any other site in the U.S.

A View of Safari Park
Another View of Safari Park


A meerkat sunning himself in the morning light.

A giraffe seeming to do yoga to get low enough for a drink.
This particular species of giraffe is almost extinct.
Note the other animals roaming in the background.
A lazy lion getting warm in the sun
Later he would get up and assume the same position on top of an SUV left in the enclosure for that purpose.

I designed and wrote our marriage ritual based around ancient Indian traditions. There were several specialized issues to deal with. First, my parents are deceased, so having any activities with them had to be eliminated. Second, the bride’s parents are divorced and remarried, so I needed to include all of them. Jayson was the minister who officiated. Here is the ritual:

The Wedding of Holly Suzanne Allender
and Donald Michael Kraig

Jayson: Welcome to the wedding of Holly Suzanne Allender and Donald Michael Kraig. You are all specially invited as family or close friends of the bride and groom. Thank you all for attending. I am Jayson, an ordained minister who will be performing this rite based on the ancient traditions found in India, a spiritual path that both Holly and Donald have come to appreciate and admire. Since most people in the West are unfamiliar with this, I’ll be narrating the process as well as leading it.

I stand here under the canopy which, in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, is called a mandap. We begin with the Baarat, the wedding procession. First, please stand and welcome the Bride and her entourage. (Music. Bride leads her party to the right side of the mandap but do not enter. Her mother and step-father remain half-way up the path.)

Typical mandap.
(We have not received the professional pictures yet.)

Jayson: Now please welcome the Groom (Music. Groom enters with party. They jokingly push him on while he pretends to resist. At the point where they’re standing, the bride’s mother performs the traditional Indian welcome by performing the aarti, making three large clockwise circles with a lamp in front of groom)

Jayson: The act of aarti, being performed by the bride’s mother, is a traditional Indian wedding blessing and greeting.

(Bride’s mother uses incense ash to make 3 horizontal lines across groom’s forehead.)

Bride’s Step-Father: May your body, mind and spirit join with that of our daughter.

(Groom and his party move to the mandap, left of the bride and her party, but do not enter)

Jayson: The ancient faith of India has been described as monotheistic with thousands of gods and goddesses. They have many names, but are merely ways to better understand and relate to the Ultimate Divinity. I now call on all the gods and goddesses to be here now, overseeing this ritual of loving union. May they bless this couple today, tomorrow, and forever.

Bride: I welcome you to this rite with this gift from my heart (she places garland around his neck)

Groom: I welcome you to this rite with this gift from my heart (he places garland around her neck)

Jayson: The next part of this rite is called Kanya Danam, the giving away of the bride. It begins with the father of the bride making a libation of sacred water imported from the Ganges river and known as Ganga jal. (Father pours some water to earth from a small pot).

Jayson: Before the bride and groom may enter the mandap, the bride’s father extracts vows from the groom.

Bride’s Father: Before we agree to give my daughter to you, we must demand three vows from you.

Groom: I vow to support your daughter as she finds her path through life. I will not condemn or direct her, but I will support her in a lifetime adventure of self-discovery.

Bride’s Step-Mother: We accept your first vow. What is your second?

Groom: I vow to support her in finding her own unique individuality, including fame, wealth, and respect as she so desires.

Bride’s Father: And the third vow?

Groom: I will remember that we are human. We will be happy or sad, angry or pleased, and all the various levels in between. And during all these ups and downs I vow to always remember what is bringing us here today in front of our friends and loved ones, love. I vow to always remember to love your daughter at all times.

Bride’s Father and Step-Mother: We accept your vows.

Bride’s Father: Before this assemblage, I, the father of Holly Suzanne Allender, do, of my own free will and that of my daughter, hereby hand her to you in marriage.

Groom: I promise to protect her in all ways.

Jayson: Will the bride and groom please enter the the mandap. Members of the entourages may be seated. (Done. Jayson uses thread to tie groom’s right hand to bride’s left hand.)

Jayson: We call on Ganesh, the breaker of obstacles, to destroy any and all barriers to the bride and groom’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual happiness. Om gam ganapataye namaha!

Jayson: Will the bride and groom please look at each other. Do you have a token of your love and symbols of this union?

Bride & Groom: Yes.

Jayson: Will the ring-bearer approach.

(The Ring Bearer, a close friend of the bride, brings up rings tied on pillow. Groom puts ring on bride’s finger. Bride puts ring on groom’s finger.)

(Jayson lights fire in Homa/Fire Pit. Wood has previously been soaked in ghee [clarified butter], but lighter fluid is ready)

Typical fire pit (Havan Kund) for the lighting of sacred fire (Homa).
Like the one used in the actual marriage, this one is made of copper.

Jayson: Fire has amazed humanity from the beginning of time, It heats and cooks and lights, but it can also destroy.

As I light this ancient symbol of power, may it bring happiness, long life, and a lifelong relationship.

(Jayson pours Samagree [a special incense] into fire)

Jayson: May these sweet scents bring the sweetness of the Divine’s blessings to you both. And now comes the part of this rite known as Paanigrahana, the holding of the hand.

(Groom faces West and takes Bride’s other hand.)

Groom: O Saraswati, I beg that you give us that which you symbolize, knowledge, music, art, science, and the wisdom to forgive disagreements and remember the beauty of our union.

Bride: O Lakshmi, I beg that you give us that which you symbolize, wealth in all areas, including financial, spiritual, mental and physical, along with the wisdom of how to use it.

(they release hands)

Jayson: Now comes Laya Homa, the oblation of parched grain

(Bride’s sister pours half of the grain [unbroken and uncooked rice]  she has into Bride’s free hand. Bride offers some of it to the fire)

Bride: This grain I spill. May it bring to me well-being and unite you to me. May Agni hear us.

(Bride’s sister shakes Bride’s hand so the rest of the grain goes into the fire)

Bride: Blessings on my husband. May my relatives all be prosperous in all areas of their lives. Svaha!

Jayson: Next comes Agni Parinaya, the circumambulation of the the fire.

(Bride & Groom walk three times clockwise around the fire)

Bride & Groom: We ask for prosperity together, far more than we could ever have apart

(Bride & Groom walk three times around the fire)

Bride & Groom: We ask that no matter what separates us —for a moment, hour, or longer— that we are always brought together

(Bride & Groom walk three times around the fire. They put free hand on each other’s hearts)

Bride & Groom: We pray for the union of our hearts, minds and spirits.

(Bride and Groom walk three times around fire. Bride pours remaining grain into fire)

Bride: To Bhaga svaha!

Jayson: Now comes the rite of Asmaarohana, the mounting of the stone.

Groom: Come, beautiful one. Come step on the stone. (Bride puts toe of right foot on stone)

Groom: Be strong like a stone. Resist all enemies, known and unknown. Overcome any and all who might attack you.

Jayson: Now comes the most important part of the ritual. Without Satapadi, the seven steps, there is no marriage.

Take your first step together around the fire. Do you promise to nourish each other and look after each other’s health? Will you be noble and respectful to one another? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Take your second step. Do you promise to grow together in strength? Will you develop your physical, mental, and spiritual powers in order to live in a wonderful lifestyle? Will you be together in perfect love and perfect trust? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Take your third step. Do you promise to work toward wealth in all areas of your lives, material, emotional, and spiritual? And will you do this only by proper means that lead to an increasingly spiritual life? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Take your fourth step. Do you promise to share joys and sorrows? Will you acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love, respect, understanding and faith? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Take your fifth step. Do you promise to encourage each other’s productive endeavors? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Take your sixth step. Do you promise to be together forever? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Take your seventh step. Do you promise to be lifelong friends? Will you be true and loyal to each other? (Step taken)

Bride & Groom: We do.

Jayson: Repeat after me:
With seven steps we become friends
Bride & Groom: With seven steps we become friends

Jayson: Let me reach your friendship
Bride & Groom: Let me reach your friendship

Jayson: Let me not be severed from your friendship
Bride & Groom: Let me not be severed from your friendship

Jayson: Let your friendship not be severed from me
Bride & Groom: Let your friendship not be severed from me

Jayson: Will the Bride and Groom bow their heads. (Done. Jayson places one hand on each of their heads)

I now confer this blessing:
May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one another in all ways.
May this couple be strong and complement one another. May this couple be blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.
May this couple be eternally happy.
May this couple live in perfect harmony.
May this couple always be true to their personal values and their joint promises.
May this couple alway be best of friends.

The perfect halves thus make the perfect whole. By the power invested in me both spiritually and under the laws of the state of California and the country of the United States of America, I hereby declare you to be married. The groom and bride may now seal their vows and end this rite with a kiss. (Done) Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you for the first time, Donald and Holly Kraig.

The new Mrs. Holly Allender Kraig immediately after the wedding.
Note the traditional henna patterns on her hands, arms, and feet.
These were applied at a traditional party for the women participants held two days before the ritual.

Reader Comments

Written By Leanna McDowell
on November 11th, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Kraig!!! Bright blessings be with you and your delicious bride!
Love and Good Wishes….
Leanna McDowell
of the Blue Moonshine Ranch

Written By Jayson
on November 11th, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

Congratulations again, Donald. I was a beautiful day. My favorite line “The perfect halves thus make the perfect whole”. Best wishes to you both.

Written By Diane
on November 11th, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

thank you so much for sharing your very special day with us…may you both be blessed by all the manifestations of the One……Saraswati, Lakshmi and (one of my favourites, Ganesha!) Jai!

Namaste and love from my heart….


Written By Devin O'Branagan
on November 11th, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

Congratulations, and many blessings on your union!

Written By Harry Koulakes
on November 11th, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

I Wish you both the Very best in your lives. I am glad to have met you Donald, you are humble ,which will make you excellent husband in life. Your wife is beautiful, may a thousand blessings be with you both .Congradulations!

Written By Nancy
on November 11th, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

amazing. Found this because of my cousin Jolene. I have never experienced anything like this and feel as though I was personally invited, somehow. May the happiness and love that you feel today, last forever in your hearts.

Written By Joseph & Teri Garver
on November 12th, 2011 @ 10:39 am

Don & Holly,
well, we haven’t seen you in many years now, Don, but was very happy to see you two found each other and wish you a very fun and exciting relationship!! All our Best!
Joseph & Teri

Written By Lori Brown
on November 12th, 2011 @ 11:14 am

Congratulations. It sounds like a beautiful ritual and many blessings to you both.

Written By Kyle
on November 13th, 2011 @ 11:12 am

Mazal tov!

Written By Chetan
on November 6th, 2014 @ 5:54 am

Congratulations. Very beautiful ritual. Many blessings to both of you. Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment with us.

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