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Oh! Parama sukham -Chapter 17
Paramasukham continues

“You are divine by nature “,  that is what the bridegroom tells her, when he leads the bride, holding her right hand, towards the homakuntam, sacred fire and makes her sit by his side, on a fresh mat, “the moon gave you strength, the gandharvas beauty and Agni, youthfulness so that you may give me your service.” 

Divine nature of wife is mentioned while she is at the threshold of becoming a part of our life and it continues till the end of the wedding function to be repeated often at different later events. ‘Subaghe !’ is a word often used to address the bride, which is the base for  à¤¸à¥Œà¤­à¤¾à¤—्यवती ‘soubaghyavathi’ in  our wedding invitations. ‘ Greha Lakshmi’, ‘ Soubaghgya Lakshmi’ ‘Ma inti Mahala Lakshmi’ – Wife is always divine.
The  ‘mangalasootram’ or ‘thali’  would have been a later introduction as there is no mention about that in the earlier procedural guides. But it became the most prominent identification mark along with ‘metti’ and ‘kumkumam’ symbols for the married status of women with living husband, ‘Metti’ is mentioned even in Ramayanam. It is made of silver.
Metti worn in feet is believed to contribute in the regularization of the  menstrual cycles and revitalizing the productive organs, promoting the conceiving capacity. Silver being a good conductor, absorbs the earth’s energy and passes it through the body refreshing it. Wearing silver at the lower part of the body is a practice in vogue even by males in some villages, either as waist belts or ankle rings,  by farmers and other working class . The upper part of the body was always adorned by gold. Somebody, someday might do some research on this subject and come out with scientific facts. There is some basis for every practice in our cultural and religious practices.

“I am tying this mangalasutra, my life support, on your neck, oh! Subhaghe! (auspicious woman!) may you live long happily.” 
And then, for Paanigrahanam, :
“I am holding this hand of yours; you have been gifted to me by the gods to head my family and present me with good offspring and be with me till my old age. May the auspicious  Saraswathy  protect this act. May the Universal purifier, the god Vayu, unite your mind with mine! —–”

The ‘Sapthpadhi’ manthras are equally meaningful. 

“You have taken the first step; May the God  Mahavishu follow your step  and provide you food.
“You have taken the second step; May the same God follow your step and give you good health.
“When you take your third step, may the God follow you to perform  your austerities.
“When you take your fourth step, may He follow you to give you comforts and happiness.
“When you take your fifth step, may  He follow you to give the wealth of cattle
“When you take your sixth step, may He follow you so that the seasons are favourable to you.
“When you take your seventh step, may He follow you to help you in participating in ‘homamas’ and other rituals (which are part of married life).

It was significant that holding the bride’s hand, I helped her to get from the seat and later, in moving each step ahead, around the sacred fire. The first body contact was thus established with a note of support to the bride and in such a way that she could depend on the extended helping hand of her husband not only to get up but also to walk around the fire, which again was  symbolic.

The next mantra of ‘sankalpam’, uttered looking at the bride, was poetic:
“After these seven steps made together, we have become friends. Let us remain together always. You don’t leave me and I too won’t. Let us be one in body and thoughts and let us do everything together. I am the sky and you the earth . I, the mind and you, the word. —–Come, let us join to enjoy life.” 
The subsequent homa mantras  as well, are  pregnant with meaning, consideration and compassion towards the bride and sincere prayers to the gods to make the married life meaningful and enjoyable. Not only for the wealth of worthy progeny but for their long life, health are sought from the Gods .The prayer for the long life for the mother so that she could enjoy the fruit of her action, is significant.

“Dasasyam puthranadehi, padim ekadasam krithy”. (Bless her to have ten children and make her husband, the eleventh”) is moving..

What a lovely way to start the family wife? 

My words, while helping the bride to step on the granite stone, were encouraging and meant to remove her fear in entering an unknown world.
“Mount it and be firm like this stone. Fight with those who fight, but tolerate the enemy ( if a need arises)”
Then came the bride’s turn to pray for the longevity of her husband.

The following mantra should open the eyes of those who unknowingly despise our scriptures for not giving enough importance for our women:
“Samrajsree swasurea bahva; Samrajsree swasruvam bavaha;  Nanandari samrajsree bavaha; Samrajsree  adhithea vrishu. ( You be a queen to your father-law; you be a queen to your mother-in-law; you be a queen to your brothers and sisters-in-law).
The next mantra  extends  the list to  all relatives of the husband and children and even property. 
Agnisakshi : Agni has a premier position among the gods in Vedams, the first Rik  Agni meele purohitam’  eulogizing Agni. Agni is the very symbol of the Supreme, the Paramatma, who makes the sun to shine,  illumines and energize the universe. Agni feeds through the products generated in earth from the sun shine and when the inner fire is extinct, when the prana vayu leaves discarding the body, It is Agni who purifies it and takes it to the Originator.

In a homam, He is not only the main deity; he is the chief priest who conducts the yagnam ; he receives the offerings and also  carries them to other gods. He is the sarva baksha, (who devours everything ) too. He is the fire of life, friend, mediator with the gods in the heaven . He is the Hothru who sings the Riks. He is everything. He is the Rishi, the first and foremost Rishi, says Rig vedam.

There is no mention of the lighting of fire, no homadraviam, no human priest, no yagnam, everything is Agni. In the micro level, our heart is the yagnabhoomi. The antar yagnam takes place in every heart. Churning and churning.

That reminds me of the Palzhimadhanam, the churning of the ocean of milk by the mightiest, using the strongest tools. Is it not the symbolic presentation of the war taking place in our own heart between the positive and negative forces, day in and day out ?. Deadliest poison as well as the life-saving nectar emerge.The poison gets absorbed if there is a Mahadeva within us and if not, it burns us, everything related to us. 

Coming back to the kalyanana panthal, that Agni, the mightiest power, the sacred purifier and benefactor stands as a witness for our union, accepts our offerings and blesses the couple with healthy body and mind and progeny. 

“Look at the star Arundathi.”  I asked my wife pointing to the  sky, “ How bright she is ! “
“Where is the star ?” asked the innocent girl.
“Look at my heart” I replied, ” Arundathi is there; and you are that star “

That star continues to shine there.

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