A Fire Burns in the Center of the Mandap
In the center of the mandap, a fire is kindled. A Hindu marriage is a sacrament, not a contract. To signify the viability of the ceremony, fire is kept as a witness and offerings are made. The bride's brother gives three fistfuls of puffed rice to the bride as a wish for his sister's happy marriage. Each time, the bride offers the rice to the fire. This offering is known as a homam.
The ceremony begins with a prayer to Ganesha, the god of beginnings and good fortune and the remover of obstacles. Salutations are offered so that Ganesha may pave the way for the couple's married life. The gotra of both to-be-weds' (going back at least three generations) are announced. A gotra is the ancestral lineage or the ancestor's original clan (this is not related to caste or religion). In Hindu law, marriages should not take place within the same clan.