In the Indian traditions, since ancient times, the one custom that has been followed to date is to carry out all imperative rituals under a mandap. Hindu traditions prescribe sixteen rituals that a person is to perform through their life to ensure health, wealth, righteousness and spirituality. Marriage is one of these rituals that create a beautiful bond of love and companionship. It is a known fact that Indian weddings are beautiful with many rituals and décor that can steal your heart. Amidst the various elements that comprise the wedding décor, is the mandap. Ideally, a mandap is a simple canopy that is supported by 4 pillars. However, this custom has gone for a great makeover that blends Indian traditions with the modern designs.
Have you ever thought of the meanings associated with the mandap? A mandap is not just a canopy – it has a great emotional meaning attached to it. The four pillars represent the parents of the bride and groom. It acknowledges that these four people have been instrumental in shaping the bride and groom to who they are and now, they are blessing them to begin a new life together. A deeper philosophy suggests that the four pillars are linked with the Vedic ashramas – brahmacharya, gruhasth, vanaprastha and sanyasa. Some philosophers also link the pillars to the four yugs of Hindu time – satyug, tretha, dwapar, and kalyug, with the mandap signifying that the institution of marriage will last for many yugs, without whose love, support and blessings the marriage would not take place. The simplest meaning being that the mandap is nothing but a humble symbolization of the fact that the couple would be entering a common house.
This is an auspicious ceremony where the work of making the mandap begins. The mandap should be traditionally be set on a stage according to Hindu customs. It is customary for the parents on either side to sit inside the mandap. Ideally, the mandap should be facing east. Everyone entering the mandap should remove footwear as it is considered a holy place. The mandap is important because all important rituals of the wedding are held here. The holy fire, which bears witness to the holy rituals, is at the center of the mandap. The rituals performed are all ancient Vedic rituals conducted by a priest. These include rituals like:
The significance of the mandap is intricately tied to our history. The Vedic culture, which Hindus follow to this day, prescribes that any important ritual, including weddings, must only be conducted under a canopy. Such is the importance accorded to the mandap.
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