Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Hindu Marriage

Recently I attended a marriage of one of the close friends of mine. Apart from enjoying the marriage like any others I have attended earlier, this was one of the learning experiences for me. So, I decided to share it. Among all the procedures, I am going to discuss only those, which I observed and was able to understand.

I will start from the setup called ‘mundop’. Just before entering the mundop the bridegroom was forced to take a bath in front of hundreds of people. That can be embarrassing for anyone, but he has no other choice. Possibly, it is necessary to purify the body, mind and soul before entering into a deal that is going to change his life completely. However, no one can guarantee the purification of mind and soul, the bath at least confirms that the body is neat. Soon he was at the hot seat, and at his side was obviously the bride.

No!! it was her father. Of course, a person must talk and deal with the father of a girl first if he wants to take her (exactly she has to be taken with, as if she cannot move along) with him. That is a matter of values. Whatever! These two businesspersons were accompanied by their personalized pundits (I found all this business, so the involved persons seem businesspersons to me). It was quite logical that when a deal of lifetime is going on, there must be a guru type person (who understands everything) present at the site with both the parties. Now soon they started chanting mantras (which I could hardly understand), that seem like the terms and conditions of the agreement that is going to happen between them. This went on until the bridegroom accepted all the conditions and signed in form of some ahutis in the holy fire. Without wasting much time, the girl was brought with all respect and was made to sit alongside the businessman no. 1 (bridegroom).

Now this was the preparation of one of the ugliest business that is done on this earth. It is called ‘kanyadan’. Or in formal definition, the handing over the charge of the girl to the bridegroom. (This ritual is not only followed by Hindus, but it is in Christianity also, a Christian having a daughter, living in ultramodern New York or London also performs the same; I don’t know about other religions but there must be some similar act). Whatsoever! The interesting thing in kanyadan was both bride and bridegroom were asked to place their hands on each other’s with a bowl containing grains. This bowl was connected through a thread to the plate kept at other end, where the second party (parents of the bride) was sitting. The parents then started watering that plate with another bowl full of water (accompanied by a currency bill of INR 100) in their hands (Possibly the provision of currency bill was amended later by the pundits currently in power as it always goes into the pocket of concerned pundit). As if, they were watering the new world of the couple. As if, they were assuring their well-being.

After the handing over of the commodity (harsh but true), the focus was on the couple. They were asked to revolve around the holy fire and pledge for each other. One of the pundit started reciting the statements that has to be followed by both of them. These pledges were also a little embarrassing for me, as they were not balanced. Again, they treated the bride as commodity (if not commodity they treated her at a lower place than the bridegroom for sure).

I found the culture/ritual/procedure of marriage beautiful and fascinating that almost everyone does. However, there were many things to understand.

Why it was imbalanced? Why there was ‘kanyadan’ not ‘vardan’?  that might prove good for the couple.

What is the need of these rituals at the first place? Especially when nobody understands that what is going and why. (Possibly not even the pundits know, if they know what, they must not know why).

If we try to go back to the days, when these procedures were being written by the then pundits. They designed the system so well that no one dare to suspect. And time to time amendments were done as per their requirements only (I can’t believe that everything was same at that time). They could have amended the procedure of kanyadan as ‘ladka=ladki’ today. But they were not concerned about this. Their concern has always been people’s ignorance, so that they can introduce as many currency bills as possible in the system. These procedures are long followed by people and are still following possibly with higher enthusiasm than ever.

I find nothing wrong in this system but the problem is people are following unknowingly and are following everything. Some of which are not updated by our pundits and are out of date.

I wanted to write more but due to lack of time, I cannot continue right now. I’ll be more than happy to discuss things over it.


  1. Good introspection!!! This is wht we r following since time immemorial and dis is wht u will also follow sm day without questioning anyone. These rituals were made to help the successors of fat old pundits earn their bread by chanting shlokas which no one can understand. I wonder whether these pundits really chant meaningful shlokas or they abuse in sanskrit :D

  2. Though my pen name is Blasphemous, but I'd consider this as blasphemy.

    After giving to introspection, and before coming to conclusions, there is a phase where we hunt, for relevance. I think you missed it. That is why you wont realize why it is Kanyadaan, and not Vardaan.

    The little girl who was cradled in her fathers court, brought up with utmost care and delicacies, is not his love, but his life.
    When he parts his heart with the "Dulha" his "Son in law", he makes one of the biggest sacrifices. And in earlier days, it was with a sankalp, never even to drink the water from his daughters new home. It was a sacrifice, a daan, 'Kanya'=='Devi' so kanyadaan, a mahadaan.

    I have not read any scriptures, but a little respect for all religions and a desire to read scriptures some day makes me a staunch opposer to people who find its right, wrong, and never suspect the real wrong.

  3. @All: Thanks for the read!
    @Nishit: We are not following, but people are. We may join them or keep our self aside.
    @Anonymous Someone: I haven't missed anything. The explanation provided by you is good and is logical. But my question is why is it the girl who have to depart, why cant the boy depart from home, or both or none?
    The answer lye in the fact that, down the ages females are oppressed due to their physical and natural weaknesses. This is the reason why a girl has to depart from her loved ones and not the guy.
    First thing, the females were not allowed to work outside like men, so there was no need to give them proper education and other professional skills. This made them dependent on men. Gradually the society grew as patriarchic society where father is the first parent.
    (And the reason behind all this seems to be the uncertainty of the biological father, whether biological mother is confirmed. So, to maintain the certainty of being biological father of offspring's' it was necessary to take away the freedom of females, which was very easy. Evidences from history suggest that females were considered not more than a commodity in the society (not only in ancient India, but in ancient world). There are many such evidences, search on it or we can discuss it.)
    Now coming to kanyadaan, kanya being the weak part, who had to depend on someone, was considered as a responsibility. This responsibility was/is (still) transferred to her husband during the marriage, with all respect.
    These terms like mahadaan and sacrifice are added, so that no one can raise fingers on the system. This is why the so called 'kanyadaan' is considered a great sacrifice, which leads the father towards the good (punya). Sacrificing his love for the daughter and handing over her to her husband may seem logically great (and it is actually). But why only the girl? It is illogical, at least today, as we talk about gender equality these days.
    It is similar to that we say about castism. We all are against it, but everyone is still following/forced to follow in some way(credit goes to our reservation system). But in this case we are not even aware of it.
    The division remains. Either we must accept that society is divided righteously or get rid of these divisions. If not as a whole, as a person.
    Talking about scriptures, these are written for the society of that time. Today it has changed completely. With the advancement in technology and raised social awareness due to uniform distribution of knowledge, it is important to bring amendments in these too.
    Earlier the society was faith driven. Not all were required to learn, and even the knowledge was not accessible to all. For that society, only a few intelligent beings were responsible. However today, the whole society is responsible for its being and growth (thanks to the democracy).
    I have gone through a few of them, I admire those who have penned down many subtle things. But again, I am an individual and I have my own intelligence, so does everyone has today (not everyone though).

  4. Anonymous Dear, you started pouring in your Blasphemous thoughts without connecting to the post.

    Good that your are Blasphemous and I like Blasphemous people.

    The author here is talking about the relevance of Shlokas and Mantras which no body understands or cares to understand.

    Traditional marriages have become just a way to follow the trend, nothing wrong in it but the author has just tried to find the 'relevance' and logical explanation for it.

    P.S: As far as Blasphemy is concerned, you will never find more Blasphemous personality than the 'author' :)

  5. @Everyone, the wisdom that was once lost still lays hidden in those Granths that you dont care to read, or understand because you dont understand sanskrit.
    A greatly learned man, and a mathematics HOD at IITD told me once, the same thing that I have heard from many people, but not as convincingly as he did.
    The 'Ravana Sanhita', has all those mathematical formulae encoded in it that we call algebra today. Hearing this from the words of a mathematician, should be enough.

    And just go through the history books again, because Woman, was by no means a commodity, she was adored, and enjoyed the same status as men, if not higher than men. You don't chant the names of a commodity before the names of your fathers when you say, 'Twamev mata ch pita twameva, twameva bandu ch sakha twameva, twamev vidya dravidam twameva, twamev sarvam mum dev devah'. In case you dont understand this, it is the praise of the lord that is spoken in nearly all Hindu homes.
    Shivji wont be 'Ardhnaarishwar' if women were a commodity. Sati won't be Shiv's Shakti, don't limit your thought process to the time where castes started ruining the religion, go beyond, use what he gifted everyone, Common Sense, its not too far to fetch.

    As per the shlokas are concerned, dont jump on to conclusions on your own, if you think they dont understand what they chant, go ahead and ask them.

    P.S. Blasphemous Aesthete is no way opposed to God or his existence, he just refuses to accept the interpretations the present world offers to everyone. He believes in the aesthetics of the creator and his creations.

  6. @Above: I am again mentioning it, but this time in proper words that I am or the article or anyone here is not against the scriptures, but the procedures which are being practiced today.
    Ancient scriptures like Vedas and Upanishads are timeless and purely spiritual/philosophical, which do not talk about these rituals. Such rituals are taken from later Hindu scriptures.
    Moreover, the major concern of the article is beyond Hindu religion or its scriptures as the same practice is done in others religions as well.

  7. @ anonymous
    let us go the time when these rituals were established.The rituals and the custom of performing marriage looks very grandeur & expensive to me.It was as if some xyz pundit made it for some xyz maharaja.The xyz pundit told his friends how much he earned and so on and so on and until some brilliant xyz pundit came and manuscripted it and ended being a custom. The result the poor work their whole life to save for that ritual.Who is happy? The pundit is happy. Who is suffering? The poor and that makes women a burden to their parents. The fault is no ones in particular and everyone in general.When two person want to live their life together and they know they are gonna be happy how come a learned pundit coming into the scene and uttering some rubbish in any way affect their life.If you can really afford it and want to do it there is no one to stop you.But why hammer it to everybody.You know anything which is made to gobble at a gun point leads to misery and leading a chain of events of mishaps. That is evil not the people.

    I really appreciated your views though. As the author has quoted customs needs to be changed with the time.