THE 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 money.
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 the bridegroom.
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 auspicious.
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
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 metaphorically!
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 entering it
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
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
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
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 prayers.
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,
but was 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 future.
course, during those days, it was just a graceful gift by the father and the
amount would depend upon how much he could afford.