To lead a life, we need a society. To build a society, we need to carefully structure the dynamic elements in it. One of such elements is “progeny” and the other is “coexistence of a group of people” in a society. Progeny propagates the quantity of the social beings while the coexistence ensures their sustenance (of different groups). Among different groups viz., friends, relatives, casts, sects, genders, etc., the bond of a “Husband-Wife-Child(ren)” forms a basic foundation brick for a social-triangle. Without this triangle, a society does not exist and without a society our race will be extinct, for, we are “social beings”! “Marriage” is one instrument which brings and holds this triangle together and each stable triangle makes the polygonal society firm!
Ancients considered certain acts of life as rituals. A ritual is that which enacts the dramas of creation and gives a stir or an impetus to the individual consciousness so as to orient it towards a path of life which resonates with the plan of nature. But most of ancient rituals exist in the hands of those masters who silently observe and guide the humanity, and hence, are not well known to the common public yet. But, some rituals like “MARRIAGE” are known to everyone. Almost all cultures and civilizations considered the marriage as a ritual rather than a function or an event.
Aim of this article:
Among many ancient civilizations, Hindu culture still retains its Vēdic roots which go back to even more than 5000 years. In this article, we will explore the ritual of a Hindu marriage emphasizing on some main elements. This is a broad overview and hence should be seen as a bird’s eye view. Every sect will have their own customs added or deleted to this overview. The aim here is to explore the heart of the ritual than the particulars of the ritual. All most all Hindus follow most of the following elements in their marriage ritual. But, I am sure that not many know what and why they are doing it. They just ape the instructions of the priest and look forward for a social gathering event for fun. But the elements of ritual, if followed without a knowledge of the essence will be a futile act and a time waste. This is the reason why, I explored and learnt (at least some) the meaning of the elements of our marriage and hence, I wanted to write an article that would help others with similar thirst.
The List of Elements:
- Gōdāna Vrata: Ritual of physical cleansing
- Snātakaṃ and Samāvartana: Convocation of the disciple and Leaving the Guru and starting a journey towards the vast social life
- Vrata Lōpa Prāyaścitta: Rectification of Disciplinary Mistakes
- Suvarṇa Maṇi Bhūṣita Dhāraṇa: Wearing (Gold and stone) Ornaments
- Kāśī Yātra: Going on a Pilgrimage to Kāśi/Banaras
- Vivāha Dīkṣa: Accepting the Path of Marriage
- Yajñōpavīta Dhāraṇa: Wearing the Sacred Thread
- Gṛhastha Āśrama Pramāṇa: Promise unto the household lifestyle
- Kanyāvaraṇa Lakṣaṇa: Choosing the bride
- Varāgamanaṃ: Coming of the Groom
- Kanyāvaraṇaṃ: Accepting the bride
- Kanyā Yācana (by uttering Gōtra): Requesting for the bride by uttering the spiritual liniage
- Mahāsankalpa: Grand Invocation
- Varapūja: Pūja offered to groom by the bride’s father
- Pādābhiṣēka: Washing the feet of the groom by brid’s father
- Kanyādānaṃ: Giving off the bride to the groom
- Madhuparkaṃ: Offering a sweet mixture
- Śubha Muhūrta: The Auspicious MOMENT (of marriage)
- Yōktra Dhāraṇa: Groom tying a palm rope around the bride
- Maṃgaḷa Sūtra Dhāraṇa: Groom tying the auspicious and sacred thread around the neck of the bride
- Akṣatārōpaṇaṃ (or Talaṃbrālu): Shover of sanctified rice grains
- Rakṣābaṇdhanaṃ: Tying of a protective thread around the wrist of bride and groom which will be removed on fourth day from the start of marriage.
- Brahma Muḍi: Tying the Divine knot
- Pradhāna Hōmaṃ: The important fire ritual
- Pāṇī Grahaṇam: Holding the hands
- Sapta Padi: The Seven Steps
- Hōmās: Fire rituals
- Nakṣatra Darśana: Looking at the pole star (Dhruva) and star Alcor (Arundhati)
The list is huge and so are the Hindu marriage rituals. We need to spend more than one article to understand the depths. I plan to write three articles in this series, excluding the present one. So, total we will have four articles. Here, we saw the overview and a list. Next articles will be as follows:
- Part-2: 1 to 8 (Groom’s transition)
- part-3: 9 to 17 (Coming of the Bride into picture of ritual)
- part-4: 18 to 28 (Rituals that include the new couple)
So, one-third of the elements include only groom while the other one-third includes bride’s father and the bride. The rest of them include both the bride and groom. Basically the elements mimic the ancient lifestyle and hence are to be seen only as a un-cut thread of continuity of an ancient thought with a proper transfer of heart of meaning of marriage. The present day modern mind may see these rituals in as many ways of deteriorated view as possible. The lens from which they see is what makes them see what they see! A pure heart and a clean mind are required to squeeze the gist and essence of an ancient thought from the many facet fruit of present day marriage ritual of a Hindu. I hope you, the truth seeker, will throw away any ideas that cause discomfort in your mind and take in only that which suits your temperament, from these articles, for , in my view, I feel what I am expounding is all WHITE and that is only for me and I can not ask everyone to see it the same way and hence this small hope!
Stay tuned for Part-2!