Book Review: Vivaha Samskara

The Details Vedic Hindu Wedding

Reviewer: Praful Desai, Greensburg, PA

Vivāha Samskāra – The Hindu Wedding Ceremony, by Deepak A Kotwal, Narayan B Datar, Arun D Jatkar, and Dilip Amin. Publishers: World Hindu Council of America, 2011 (161 pages). $12. Copies can be purchased at, or at the SVTemple or the H-J Temple.

The book Vivaha Samskara was conceived, as Deepak Kotwal writes in the preface, when he wanted to understand the religious rites while organiz­ing his own daughter’s marriage. The book, organized into chapters and appendices, begins with a discussion of the sixteen Vedic samskaras (rites of passage) and the four ashramas (stages of life) of the Sanaatana Dharma, describes the seven key elements of the Vedic vivaha ceremony.

The authors then unfold the symbolic significance of steps in the mar­riage ceremony, giving the hymns in Sanskrit with detailed instructions for conducting weddings. The authors also discuss interfaith marriages and offer young couples suggestions for avoiding potential conflicts because of differences in faiths. The final chapter and the several appendices give logistical details of the marriage ceremony.

The authors succeed educating and empowering Hindu young adults entering the married stage of life in offering a well-organized, clearly ar­ticulated picture of the religious, spiritual and sociological significance of the marriage rites. The book fulfills the needs of both Hindu and non-Hindu families for understanding the Sanskrit-based Vedic marriage rites.

The authors invite couples embarking on grahasthashrama (householder stage of life) to regard the vivaha ceremony as a affirmation of their verbal commitment to each other into an indelible accord with community elders, while seeking blessings from the Vedic deities. Complete with the details of rituals and hymns in the Devanagari script with English transliteration and translation, the book is a good source for English-speaking people to grasp the Vedic wedding samskaras.

In writing the book the authors consulted with traditional Hindu priests from North and South India conducting marriages. This gives gravitas to the book as a reference for priests or anyone wishing to conduct a Vedic wedding. The authors maintain a fine balance between vivaha samskara, and their implications for moral guidance.

Finally, the book is a valuable contribution to Hindus and the growing number of intercultural families in the Diaspora as they strive to preserve the essentials of Sanatana Dharma in an ever-changing world. Vivaha Samskara would be an asset in every family library.

  1. No comments yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.