To complete the symbolic union, the groom’s scarf is tied to the bride’s sari in a cord known as Hasta Melap or “Complete Union.” This knot and the joined hands of the couple symbolize the union of two souls joined together in holy matrimony. The family and relatives present also come together to bless the couple and shower more grains of rice and rose petals on them for their everlasting happiness.
The sacred fire, representing Agni, the God of Fire, is lit to symbolize purity and act as witness to the union. The bride and groom jointly offer ghee, or clarified butter, rice, and sandalwood to Agni to signify the spirit of sacrifice and partnership.
The bride and groom will circle the fire four times. The four pheras symbolize the four goals of married life. Dharma - to remain true to one’s beliefs and values; Artha – to provide for one’s family; Kama – to obtain emotional and physical fulfillment; Moksha - to achieve enlightenment and liberation
The couple holds each others hands and take seven steps, each symbolizing a sacred vow:
1. Let us live with honor and respect.
2. Let us be happy and enjoy life.
3. Let us share joys and pains together.
4. Let us not forget parents and elders.
5. Let us observe all acts of charity.
6. Let us live a long and peaceful life.
7. Let us be friends with love and sacrifice.
The above pledges having been made, the groom puts a red mark on her forehead and places the sindhur powder in the parting of her hair. The brilliant red vermilion powder represents the life giving blood that flows in us all. By anointing the bride with the vermilion, the groom is promising to cherish her and protect her as if she were his own life. He also promises to protect her with his own life. At this time, he also offers her an auspicious necklace – Mangal Sutra - to signify their marriage.