Mantras recited during weddings are full of meaning and hold valuable lessons for us, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. One mantra, which is recited during the Sesha homa, shows how the couple must value each other as gifts that have come to them through penance. A good marriage is indeed a boon and it is best to begin with ones best foot forward, and that is what the recitation of the mantra, in fact, aims at. The mantra is to be recited by the bride first. She must say that she has been blessed with such a good man as her husband because of her penance. Then she must look at him. Then, the bridegroom must recite the same mantra, and then he too must look at the bride.
Usually, the sandhyavandana ritual should be performed before any other ritual. But in the case of this particular vivaha mantra, it is prescribed that it should be recited by the bride and groom even before the men perform sandhyavandana. This is one of those rare exemptions to the usual rule that prAtasandhyAh, that is the morning Sandhya ritual, should precede all others. When weddings were five days affairs, the sesha homa was on the fourth day. Apastamba dharmasutra says that recitation of this Rg Vedic mantra will lead to mutual affection between husband and wife, and therefore will result in a happy marriage without rifts and without serious differences.
The idea that a wife and a husband must view each other as the results that have come to them due to penance is a lofty one. Adi Sankara, in his Sivanandalahari, stresses the importance of such penance resulting in mutual benefit. Sankara uses the words, nijatapah phalAbhyAm, that is Siva and Parvathi obtained each other as the fruit (phala) of the focused penance (nijatapah) of each of them.