Kanyadaan: A Hindu Marriage Ritual
Indian weddings are ornate and grand ceremonies held amidst collective presence of parents, siblings, friends and relatives of the bride and the groom present at the scenario. Giving away one’s daughter to her husband’s family is an emotionally charged situation in a marriage with all dear ones gathered around the bride to send her away.
The ritual of Kanyadaan It is an important ritual in Indian weddings when the father or in absence of the father, uncle of the bride gives away the bride to the groom. Hindus believe that daughters in the house are representative of Lakshmi and therefore giving away the daughter to another family for her happiness is an important event. This ritual signifies that father is handing over responsibilities of his daughter to the groom. The groom who represents Vishnu promises his father-in-law to take care of the Lakshmi whom he was giving away with lot of faith and trust. It is widely believed that when a father successfully performs his duty in Kanyadaan, it brings good fortune to bride’s parents.
This ritual followed by Saptapadi (7 vows taken by the bride and the groom walking around the fire) sanctifies Hindu marriages. In Hindu tradition the groom and the bride represent God Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi: Vishnu is one of the Gods of Hindu Trinity, he fulfills role of the Preserver and Protector of the Universe. According to Rigveda, the name itself suggests that he is the one who is present everywhere. Lakshmi, his consort represents a beautiful woman and Goddess of wealth, prosperity and good luck. Therefore, traditionally, the groom and bride are ideally considered as Vishnu and Lakshmi. Above are some of the checks that an astrologer will ensure for horoscope compatibility. The resolve brought forth through this ritual: Every Indian ritual is practiced to fulfill a resolve. It is believed that a gift given with honesty and with earnest wishes ensure success of purpose. Father of the bride initiates the ritual by relating about his family lineage.Then he seeks bliss in heaven, purification and upliftment of souls for ancestors from both bride and groom’s side. The ritual: After the father announces that he is giving away his Lakshmi to the groom considering him as Vishnu, the ritual of sanctifying the oath begins. In south India, a pot of water is sanctified through chanting of mantras or vedic hymns. A copper plate is placed,the bride places her palm on her father’s palm, to hold water. The groom also places his palm below his father-in-laws palm so that when the priest pours sanctified water from a pot into the palm of the bride,the water flows from her hand into the hand of her father and then flows into the palm of the groom. In north India, palm of the bride is placed on a pot, her palm is held by palm of the groom. In the hand of bride, flowers and betel leaf are placed and sacred water of holy Ganges is poured while chanting mantras and then hands of the couple are tied with a white cloth amidst shower of flowers from guests. After the priest completes chanting of mantra the groom accepts his responsibility in a customary manner and declares that he is accepting the bride as his wife because he wants to walk the path of Dharma. Through the path of righteousness he and his wife would acquire progeny, wealth and happiness.