In the Hindu religion, all new beginnings are marked by the auspicious havan. The idea is to offer prayers to the pantheon of Gods for prosperity and perpetuity of the said event. Fire has a very prominent place in Hindu rituals. According to the Vedas, a human being is made of five elements - fire being one of them - which are also represented in the Supreme. Therefore, the sacred fire is supposed to signify a communion of man with God. As such the offerings made into the ritual fire or havan, such as ghee or camphor, symbolise physical attributes (in this case, ego) which are sought to be consumed by the fire to bring about purification. Thus such a ritual purifies the environment by cleansing all impurities in the physical and psychic bodies.
All auspicious beginnings are marked by a havan, as such it also forms an integral and indispensable part of marriage rituals. The pheras and the saptapadi are taken around the havan kund. The havan, or the sacred fire, is symbolic of Agni - the Fire God, who represents Shakti (the universal power). Vedic texts pronounce fire as 'the mouth of all pujas'. It is through fire that our prayers are said to reach God. The offerings are made to the chants of shlokas which invariably end with a 'swahaa'. 'Swa' - means self and 'ha' means ahamkaar or ego. Thus by chanting 'swahaa' we are offering our ego to be destroyed by the Fire God.
During the wedding phera ceremony, some objects are placed around the fire; these have a holy significance. The kalash, a small urn tied with the sacred red thread (Mauli) symbolises the cosmos. It is placed facing the North, in the centre, near thehavan kund. This positioning signifies balance; balance that one needs to achieve in married life for it to be successful. The kalash is filled with water representing Varuna, Lord of the Sea. Lord Vishnu is represented by the five betel or mango leaves placed at its mouth. In some cultures, the kalash is said to represent the body, the leaves the five senses and water, the life-force.The Havan Samagri is also very sacred and each item is significant. havan Samagri normally consists of a mixture of sandalwood powder, lobaan and ghee. Other essential ingredients are Agarbatti, dhoop, diya, chandan, capoor, roli, Haldi and Mauli. A complete list of samagri required during the wedding pheras can generally be procured after talking to the priest or pundit officiating at the wedding. For the ceremony itself the bride and groom sit before the havan kund, facing the direction of the rising sun, the East. The priest sits in the North, facing the South. In the kund the holy fire is made with the samidha, a combination of sandalwood, mango, peepal and banyan twigs. This signifies the burning of evil with good. Before the fire is lit, water is sprinkled around the area. It is believed that this purifies and rejuvenates the atmosphere on the occasion. But the ancient beliefs hold a more logical explanation. Weddings used to take place in the open, probably even in the jungles. Water was sprinkled around the havan to prevent the fire from spreading. The whole wedding ceremony is one of intense emotional bonding. The act of taking the pheras around the havan kund and seeking the blessings of Gods, relatives and friends alike is, according to Hindu beliefs, vital for a happy married life.