The Ritual of Laaja Homam
This ritual takes place towards the end of the ceremony and is often not included depending on whether or not the specific region celebrates it. Laaja Homam translates to ‘the offering of puffed rice to the sacred fire’ from its Sanskrit origins. To read more about the Vivaah Homa, the sacred fire pit that is used during the Hindu marriage ceremony on the Mandap, click here. During this stage of the Hindu marriage, the bride offers rice with the help of her brother wishing her husband a long life and for the proliferation of their family. The bride is not allowed to offer the rice with her own two hands and therefore is helped by her brother or closest male relative.
The Groom places his hand beneath his Bride’s so that while her brother pours the rice, it slips through her fingers and a portion of it is shared with him. The reasoning behind having the brother assist with the pouring of the rice indicates the continuation of the links between the two families, especially for after the marriage. The couple then circles the fire together three times while feeding the fire with rice each round.
The ritual is held in observation of the Lord Agni, the Hindu Fire god, the ultimate witness to the marriage. The offering of the puffed rice ensure the couple to be blessed by Agni and to be offered happiness and prosperity in return. Hymns in praise of Lord Yama, the God of Death, are also sung in order to promote the prosperity of her new Husband and warrant his happiness.