Interview with Pandit Sharma

A Hindu ceremony cannot take place without a revered priest, or pandit. They perform many rituals leading up to and within the wedding ceremony. We have asked one of our favorite pandits, Pandit Sharma, some questions regarding the significance of ceremonial details. Keep these in mind when planning your ceremony and looking for your pandit.

Why must the ceremony take place under a mandap?
Mandap creates a canopy of protection to ward away the evils sprits during ceremony.

What is the significance of fire?
Fire is one of the manifestations of God and its presence signifies presence of God to witness and bless the ceremony.

Can the couple pick any date for their wedding, or must they consult with their Pandit?
This is a matter of personal belief. Traditionally, Hindus would consult astrologers to define the movements and placements of planets to define an auspicious date and time of wedding. Many people will even ask the Pandit to perform Puja to appease Gods and Planets and then perform the wedding. While some still go this route, many prefer to select a day and time that is more convenient. Invariably once a date is selected couples and / or parents ask Pandit to perform Ganesh Puja, Nav Graha Puja to seek blessings from God prior to the wedding.

Who is involved with the ceremony, besides the bride and groom? What other family members and why?
From Bride’s side her parents are required to perform Kanyadaan / Hasta Milaap ceremony. Her brother or siblings are required to offer her the rice husk during Mangal Phera ceremony. This is to signify that they create a bridge of love between the generations. While it is elegant to ask the Groom’s parents also to be present, it is not necessary. In some families, Groom’s sister or sister-in-law or mother helps him apply Sindoor and Mangal Sutra on his wife’s forehead.

It is also required by law that for all underage couples (below the age of 18 years) their parents must be present to give their consent to the wedding.

Are there different standards for the ceremony, practices that must be done and those that are not necessary but are included?
Hindus are very flexible and allow many variations in the ceremony. There are several examples, (i) many societies perform FOUR Pheras (circles) around Fire, while some do seven; (ii) ceremony steps like Shilanyaas, Mangal Sutra are not universally common and many societies do not do it; (iii) sequence of ceremony steps also varies from North to South, Sindoor for example is the last (or near last) step in North Indian weddings whereas it is one of the first steps in South Indian weddings!

Who brings the supplies?
Pandit can provide a list of items required for the ceremony and these can be bought at most Indian shops. Most Mandap decorators provide a Havan Kund (Fire urn). In addition there are other Puja items (non consumables) that are required. Each items has specifications and it is generally more convenient and cost effective to get these from Pandit.

Is there a donation?
Traditional ceremony has a step included for Gau Daan. Bride’s parents make an offering of cash to the Pandit to pray for the removal of any Avgun (weaknesses or drawbacks) from her life so she can be happy in her new home. Many Pandits also suggest giving a donation to a charity or religious institution based on the affiliation or preference.

Is the Pandit fee tax deductible?
Usually not. This can be better defined by experts.

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