|Vivaha or Marriage Ceremony
|The following liturgy for the Vivaha or Marriage Ceremony has been taken from the Manual of Brahmo Rituals and Devotions by Sitanath Tattwabhushan. The book was first published in 1924 with its second edition in 1971 by the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. The language is archaeic and can be suitably modified keeping in mind with the occassion and times.
As Brahmo marriages are usually registered under Special Marriage Act, a notice of the marriage in the form laid down by the Act, and signed by both the parties, is sent to the Marriage Registrar at least 30 days before the day fixed for the celebration of the marriage. On the day the notice is signed, or on a previous date, a Vagdan or Engagement ceremony takes place in some cases. It is intended to inaugurate a period of preparation for taking the solemn vow of matrimony. It is usually a short ceremony consisting of a prayer like the following preceded and followed by a hymn:
"O God of love, Thou Searcher and Inner Ruler of our hearts, thou hast drawn together the hearts of these thy children and thou seest the intentions they have formed. Impress upon them the solemnity of the vow they are going to take. Help them in searching their hearts, in cherishing pure desires and motives, in feeling the responsibilities of the life they are going to enter, and in laying down plans for the conduct of that life. Enable them to feel the difficulties before them and humbly to trust in thee for counsel and guidance. Save them from all kinds of fickleness, and enable them to proceed with calmness and firm determination in the path they have chosen. Reveal thyself as the aim and object of their lives and help them to take every serious step in life in the light of this truth."
In the morning of the day fixed for the marriage, divine service takes place separately in the houses of the bride and the bridegroom for preparing their minds for the actual ceremony. In the course of this service, the ancestors of the parties are remembered and their blessings on the marrage asked for.
Before the commencement of the actual ceremony the preliminary portion of the registration is gone through in the presence of the Registrar, three witnesses, and (in case the parties are minors) the guardians of the bride and the bridegroom. This usually takes place in a room or spot other than that fixed for the actual ceremony.
In the place fixed for the ceremony, the bride and the bridegroom sit facing each other in front of the minister's vedi (dias). The guardians of the parties, the Registrar and the witnesses occupy seats near them. After a hymn the bride's guardian stands up and says to the assembled guests:
"Sriman (Mr.)............. having expressed a desire to marry my .......... Srimati (Ms.) ........... I knowing her consent to the marriage, present her to you all and most respectfully ask you to help in the performance of the ceremony and say "Svasti" (all right)."
The guests say "Svasti."
The bridgroom's guardian then says:
"Srimati (Ms.) ............. having expressed a desire to marry my ............. Sriman (Mr.) ............ I, knowing his consent to the marriage, present him to you all and ask you most respectfully to help in the performance of the ceremony and say "Svasti."
The guests say "Svasti."
Then the minister says to the bridegoom:
"Sriman (Mr.)............. , in the presence of the all-seeing and all-holy God and of these fellow-believers of yours, have you made up your mind to accept Srimati (Ms.) ............. as your lawful wife, and take upon you the duties and responsibilities of a faithful husband?"
The bridegroom says, "I have so made up my mind."
The minister to the bride:
"Srimati (Ms.) ............. , in the presence of the all-seeing and all-holy God and of these fellow-believers of yours, have you made up your mind to accept Sriman (Mr.) ............. as your lawful hisband, and take upon you the duties and responsibilities of a faithful wife?"
The bride says, "I have so made up my mind."
After a second hymn the minister conducts the usual invocation and adoration with special reference to the ceremony,
or he substitutes a short service like the following:
"O thou all-pervading and all seeing Being, thou art present within and without us as the witness and presiding deity of
this solemn ceremony. It is thou who hast drawn together the hearts of these two children of thine and manifested a particle of thy infinite love as the bond of the union thou art going to effect. We give our hearts' deepest gratitude to thee for having removed all obstacles to this holy union and enabled us to bring these two souls at thy feet. It is thy love and the light of thy holiness that have guided them so far and will ever guide them through the trials and difficulties of the life that lies before them. It is thou that art the object and goal of our life and it is as a help to union with thee that thou art bringing about this union of souls. We consecrate ourselves to thee and seek thy blessing and inspiration in tying this holy knot."
The minister then joins the right hands of. the parties and twines a garland of flowers round them.
The bridegroom then says:
"This day, the ........... day of the month ........... of ........., in the year ........, the day after the full (or new) moon, the day of the week, I, in the presence of the all-seeing and all-holy God and of the friends and fellow-believers assembled here, of my own free will and with a heart free from hesitation, and knowing your consent to this union, take you as my lawful wife. In prosperity and adversity, in happiness and misery, in health and sickness, I will assiduously promote your welfare as long as I live. In virtue, riches, and pleasure I shall ever endeavour to make you my companion. May my heart be yours, may your heart be mine, and may our hearts thus united be the Lord's! May you be my friend, may I be your friend, and may our friendship never be dissolved!"
The bride then says:
"This day, the ........... day of the month ........... of ........., in the year ........, the day after the full (or new) moon, the day of the week, I, in the presence of the all-seeing and all-holy God and of the friends and fellow-believers assembled here, of my own free will and with a heart free from hesitation, and knowing your consent to this union, take you as my lawful husband. In prosperity and adversity, in happiness and misery, in health and sickness, I will assiduously promote your welfare as long as I live. In virtue, riches, and pleasure I shall ever endeavour to make you my companion. May my heart be yours, may your heart be mine, and may our hearts thus united be the Lord's! May you be my friend, may I be your friend, and may our friendship never be dissolved!"
The bride and bridegroom then pray together:
"Help us, O Lord, in keeping this holy marriage convenant."
Then the bridegroom and the bride exchange their garlands and rings.
The minister then addresses the married couple in the following manner:
"Sriman (Mr.)............. and Srimati (Ms.) ............. , the solemn vow you have just taken indicates briefly the duties you are to do as husband and wife, the direction in which you are to proceed in making your married life a success. Never regard your vow as a mere form gone through once for all, but remember it day after day, and endeavour to be true to it. Marriage in its reality and fullness is not an event that takes place on a particular day at a particular hour. It is in ideal that has to be realised by a lifelong endeavour. It is an ideal friendship the closest and deepest friendship conceivable. At the beginning of the married life it is often very partially realised, and even in advanced life the realisation is still imperfect except in rare cases. But the imperfect realisation does not make the ideal less truly an ideal. By personal and social efforts, continued through years and generations, we must endeavour to realize the true ideal."
"An essential condition of the realisation of the ideal marriage is mutual respect between the parties. Respect must lead to marriage and respect must be the guiding principle of the married life. Want of respect mars the ideal of marriage and obstructs its actual realisation. If, in marriage, the husband thinks that he is superior to his wife, and she inferior to him, that he is independent and the wife dependent on him, and that he is the end while his wife is only a means, the marriage relation is ill-conceived, and this wrong conception must lead to numerous evils."
"The fact is that the parties have perfectly equal rights, and if one party has intellectual or spiritual excellences which are wanting in the other, he or she must resolve to share them with the other as if they were their common property; that if the wife is dependent upon the husband in certain matters, so is the husband on the wife in others; and that they are both mutually ends and means, both helping each other to attain a common end. Proceed with this true ideal of marriage, respect each other in heart, word and deed, and you will be rewarded with success at every step."
"But you must be prepared for many a failure too, - failures which must be taken as only partial and means to the final success. I hope you will both be blessed with a good deal of enjoyment in your married life; but you must always remember that neither enjoyment nor sorrow is our destined end or way, as the poet truly says. Enjoyment and sorrow are both only means to the end, the perfection of the soul. When troubles come, troubles which may seem to obstruct your realisation of the marriage ideal, do not think your marriage a failure. They are as much messengers of God, - disguised messengers, - as pleasures. In overcoming them, even in attempting to overcome them we achieve success and go forward on our path. Keep your mind always open to good advice from pious and experienced men."
"Make your home an altar of God and an institution of the Brahmo Samaj. You will now be judged by a standard higher and broader than that by which you have hitherto been judged. You will now be judged not merely as individuals, but as husband and wife, and as householders. You will be expected to be always ready to welcome friends and guests, help the poor and suffering, and serve the Brahmo Samaj, the country and every good cause with your united hearts and hands. We all wish you success in the new career which opens before you, and shall watch your endeavours and help them with all our might."
The minister then prays as follows:
"Reveal thyself, O Lord, to these thy children. Reveal to them the true ideal of a husband and a wife, and help them to realise it in thought, feeling, word and deed. Reveal thyself to them as the goal and object of their lives and make their married life with all its duties, trials, joys and sorrows, means to the attainment of that goal. May this marriage be a blessing to the parties, to the Brahmo Samaj, to the country and to the world! May the home thou hast built today be an altar of thine and help to all good causes. Give strength to us all to help in making the union we have brought about through thy grace all that we desire. May thy will be done and thy kingdom established in this united life and in all families on earth, as it is in heaven."
The ceremony closes with a hymn, after which the married couple bow down to the minister and other elders and receive their blessings.
The latter part of the registration is then done in the presence of the three witnesses.
Some donations are to be made to the Brahmo Samaj.