VIVAHA (MARRIAGE CEREMONIES)
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The Vivaha is the most Important of all the Hindu rituals. Even during
the Vedic period the marriage ceremonies had been developed
and they have found literary expression in the Rigveda and the
Atharvaveds. Marriage received great importance even in early
times. The Smritis entirely endorse the Ashrama system and
emphatically prescribed that a man should marry after
completing his student life. “Having spent the first fourth
part of his life in the house of the guru, the second fourth
part of his life in his own house with his wife, the third
part in forests, one should take sanyasa (Renunciation) in the
fourth part. One who spends his life in this manner having
conquered all the stages of life would attain enlightenment.
The Smritis highly praise the life of a householder. They call it the
best Ashrama and regard it as the centre and prop of the whole
social structure. Just as all creatures exist depending on
air, so does society depend upon the householder. Because the
householder supports the other three orders, his order is
the highest. One who longs for imperishable heaven and
happiness in this world should uphold the Grahastha Ashrama.
The purest and the most evolved method of marriage is Brahma. It is so
called because it is thought fit for the Brahmins. The Smritis
regard it the most honourable type of marriage, as it is free
from physical force, Imposition of conditions and lure of
marriageable age: In
Rig Vedic times no girl was married before she had reached
womanhood. During the period of the “Ramayana” and the “Mahabharata”
also girls were grown up at the time of their marriage.
When the proper selection of the bride and the bridegroom is
made, the ceremonies relating to marriage begins. In the
beginning they must have been very simple. But as marriage is
a very important occasion in the community, many rites,
practices and customs arose, which were regulated by the
community Itself. As marriage is a festive event in the
communal life, all sorts of mirth and amusements are
associated with it in form of feasts, music, dance, etc.
Decoration of the house and adornment of the bride and the
bridegroom express aesthetic motives natural to any important
event in social life.
are a number of ceremonies, which are suggestive of the
various features in a marriage. The relatives of the bride
have some right over her, therefore, it is necessary that she
should be given in marriage in their presence. A large group
of ceremonies are symbolical, One group of them symbolises the
union between the wife and the husband. For example, Joining
of hands, tying of garments, touching of heart etc. has for
their motives the union of the pair. Another group of
ceremonies has their origin in desire to promote the fertility
of the union or to ensure the abundance of food for the
household. Some ceremonies are connected with the idea that
some danger is attendant on every transitional period of life
and it should be averted by proper rites. Since marriage
inaugurated the most important epoch in one’s life, many
ceremonies are performed to ward off the evil influences
connected with the event.
The preliminary part of the marriage ceremonies consisted in
the Vagdanam (Betrothal) or oral giving away of the bride to
Amongst the Sindhis, during the engagement, misri (crystal sugar) is brought by the boy’s family for the girl
thereby denoting that the engagement is confirmed and
merry-making may start. The Hindus consider eating of sweet
bowl of fruit is placed on the girl’s lap, which is symbolic
of bestowing prosperity, and happiness accompanied with the
blessing that she may bear strong and healthy children.
The couple exchanges engagement rings. This custom dates back to the
ancient Egyptians and is probably a modern addition to the
Hindu rituals. The ring is worn on the third finger of the
hand because it is believed that, that finger has a vein that
leads directly to the heart.
The ring is normally golden. Since gold is supposed to last forever, it
is believed that its use would bless the couple with a long
and prosperous married life.
After the engagement ceremony, the Sindhis have what is called the “Sagri”
the sisters of the bridegroom come to dress up the girl and
adorn her with flowers. Maybe that was the way to get to know
the girl a little better and make her more comfortable, as she
would soon be a part of the family.
little “attar” (perfume) is licked by the “to-be bride”
maybe to bring fragrance to the tongue, literally and
the Sagri the “Ghari Pujan” is done both in the brides house as well as the bridegroom’s. Here married ladies whose husbands are alive are made to grind wheat and
pound turmeric, to symbolise
that now the merriment is starting, food will be required for
the guests. The above ritual is also to symbolise that the
house should always prosper irrespective of the fact that the
luck may change In the bride’s house because their girl
leaving or in the bridegroom’s house because a girl will be
boy fills his cupped hands with grain and offers it to the
priest. This is to indicate that even though he is entering
the Grahastha Ashram he will never forget to give charity and
to look after those less fortunate than him. Oil and turmeric
root is rubbed by the respective mothers on the bride’s and
groom’s hands, feet and backbone. This is what is called
anointing with oil and it is a form of cosmetic besides
helping their physical bodies to become stronger as the
turmeric root and oil contain medicinal properties.
bride’s and the groom’s respective mothers then along with
the husbands of their elder daughters step out of their houses
with pot of water on their heads.
pot of water is placed outside the house and a knife is passed
through it to break any evil spell.
family’s son-in-law would be there as a protector against
any intruder or dacoits. They then enter the house amidst a
great racket, which they create, to ward off any evil spirits
that may want to cast an evil eye on the marriage festivals.
bride and the groom are made to wear old clothes which are
torn by relatives and friends amidst merriment to denote that
their old life is now over and that they are now on the
threshold of a new one.
people claim that it is to make them look shabby so that their
beauty comes out in full glory on their wedding day.
The Nuptial Bath: In
the morning the bride and the bridegroom at their respective
homes take the nuptial bath with scented water and recital of
Vedic verses indicative of the physical union of the husband
and the wife. Then the marriage party from the bridegroom’s
side proceeds to the place of the bride’s father. In the
second half of the day the bridegroom bathes, puts on a pair
of white clothes, decorates himself with scent and garlands
and prays to the family gods.
The Marriage Party:
On arrival, the bridegroom stands outside the gate of the
house facing the east and is welcomed by a group of women
bearing lamps and jars full of water.
the Sindhis the bride is made to come out to receive the groom
where he places his foot on hers to denote that he should be
the dominating force in their future life together. The bride’s
mother and father then wash the feet of the bridegroom. This
is because they believe that due to all the prayers that have
preceded that moment the bridegroom is an embodiment of Lord
Vishnu for that particular day.
the marriage however he would not allow his in-laws to touch
his feet ever again as after that day he is to consider them
his parents and give them their due respect.
bridegrooms finally enters the bride’s house and here,
normally, his brother’s wife would adorn the new bride with
jewels. The end of the sari of the bride is tied to a piece of
cloth across the bridegroom’s neck on his shoulder, and
their hands are tied with a string, which has been blessed by
bride takes with herself gifts in clothes and ornaments given
by her parents, which is commonly known as dowry. The dowry
custom has not only been an Indian custom,
practiced by the Europeans as well.
a matter of fact the word trousseau is derived from a French
word “trusse” which consisted of a few valuable items
presented by the brides parents.
dowry ensured that the bride would be recipient of the share
of her father’s property besides being a security for her
course, during those days, it was just a graceful gift by the
father and the amount would depend upon how much he could