Surprisingly, there is not always an exchange of rings at the Hindu wedding ceremony. What carries a similar importance is the Vedic ritual of tying the mangalsutram around the neck of the bride by the groom. As he ties the knot, the groom recites the following Sanskrit verse: mAngalyam tantunAnena mama jIvanA hethunA; kaNThe badhnami subhage sanjIva Sarada: Satam. Translation: This is a sacred thread. This is essential for my long life. I tie this around your neck, O maiden having many auspicious attributes! May you live happily for a hundred years (with me).

There is another Vedic rite, which I find very touching: the panigrahanam. During the rite, the groom takes the bride's hand and covers it with his own to accept her as his wife.

This is followed by the Saptapadi, the Vedic rite that concludes the wedding rites, and involves taking seven (sapta) steps (padi) walking around the sacred fire. There are detailed translations all over the Internet of the vows made with each step, such as this one. Some are not necessarily accurate or grammatically correct, while others take literary license. It is this simple translation from the monks at the Hinduism Today magazine that I most want to share:

The first step is taken to earn and provide a living for their household or family.

The second step is taken to build physical, mental, and spiritual powers and to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The third step is taken to earn and increase their wealth by righteous and proper means.

The fourth step is taken to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love, respect, understanding, and faith.

The fifth step is taken to have children for whom the couple will be responsible and to blessed with healthy, righteous, and brave children.

The sixth step is taken for self-control and longevity.

The seventh step is taken to be true to each other, loyal and remain life-long companions by this wedlock.

Completion of the seventh step is the moment of completion of the marriage ritual.

However, they do not say, "Kiss the bride!" That is also something sacred, and done in the privacy of the honeymoon suite.